Article I, Section. 2 [Slaves count as 3/5 persons]
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons [i.e., slaves].
This essentially says that the slaves were only 3/5ths of a person. And there was a reason for this to be put into the Constitution. But, before the explanation is put in here, here is what happened today in the House when the Constitution was read.
When the Constitution was read today, they left out parts because they were either supposedly offensive or outdated. One of the things they left out because it was offensive, was the 3/5th’s clause that was in Article 1 Section 2 of the Constitution.
The only way that this can be offensive is if you don’t know the history as to why this clause was put in the Constitution. And there was a reason. A good one.
The 3/5ths clause was put in the Constitution not to let everyone know that the slaves were not really human, but because if they were put in as 100% human, slavery would have been a lot harder to get rid of. That is the reason the founding fathers put that in the Constitution, to help get rid of slavery. Here is an explanation of it.
Delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 hotly debated the issue of slavery. George Mason of Virginia argued eloquently against slavery, warning his fellow delegates:
“Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgment of heaven on a country. As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, providence punishes national sins by national calamities.”
Southern delegates, on the other hand, argued strenuously that the new government should not be allowed to interfere with the institution of slavery. Delegate John Rutledge of South Carolina, for example, told delegates that “religion and humanity have nothing to do with the questions” of whether the Constitution should protect slavery–it was simply a question of property rights.
The Constitution that the delegates proposed included several provisions that explicity recognized and protected slavery. Without these provisions, southern delegates would not support the new Constitution–and without the southern states on board, the Constitution had no chance of being ratified. Provisions allowed southern states to count slaves as 3/5 persons for purposes of apportionment in Congress (even though the slaves could not, of course, vote), expressly denied to Congress the power to prohibit importation of new slaves until 1808, and prevented free states from enacting laws protecting fugitive slaves.
Slavery, as all students of history know, continued to be a divisive issue up through the Civil War. Southern states worried that the balance in Congress might tip against slavery, and so were anxious to extend slavery to new territories and states. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 (enacted at a time when slave states and non-slave states had equal representation in the Senate) permitted slavery in Missouri, but prohibited slavery in portions of the Louisiana purchase north of 36°30′.
The Supreme Court, in its infamous decision in Dred Scott v Sandford (1857), ruled that Congress lacked the power to prohibit slavery in its territories. In so doing, Scott v Sandford invited slave owners to pour into the territories and pass pro-slavery constitutions. The decision made the Civil War inevitable. Chief Justice Roger Taney, writing for the majority in Scott, also concluded that people of African ancestry (whether free or a slave, including Scott) could never become “citizens” within the meaning of the Constitution, and hence lacked the ability to bring suit in federal court.
Before the Civil War ended, Congress passed, and sent to the states for ratification, the Thirteenth Amendment which abolished “slavery” and “involuntary servitude” and authorized Congress to enact “appropriate legislation” implementing the abolition. The Amendment was understood to also make blacks citizens of the United States (overruling Dred Scott on that point). The House vote to propose the Thirteenth Amendment followed the Senate vote, and barely made the 2/3 majority requirement. When the vote was announced the galleries cheered, congressmen embraced and wept, and Capitol cannons boomed a 100-gun salute. Congressmena George Julian of Indiana wrote in his diary, “I have felt, ever since the vote, as if I were in a new country.” Ratification by the states quickly followed, and Secretary of State Seward proclaimed the Amendment adopted on December 18, 1865.
Less than a year after ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, Congress used its newly conferred power to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1866, giving black citizens “the same right in every state…to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, …to inherit, purchase, sell, and convey real and personal property; and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property as is enjoyed by white citizens.” Supporters if the 1866 law argued that its guarantees constituted “appropriate” means of “enforcing” the right of blacks not to be held in bondage.
The Thirteenth Amendment, unlike most provisions in the Constitution, is self-executing, in that it directly reaches-even without action by Congress- conduct by private individuals (slave holders). Because of this fact, Congress’s power under the Thirteenth Amendment allows it to punish forms of private conduct when it might not be able to do so under an amendment such as the Fourteenth, which restricts the conduct of states (prohibiting states from denying equal protection of the laws or due process).
The Thirteenth Amendment has not produced nearly the volume of Supreme Court decisions as has the Fourteenth Amendment, or even the Fifteenth Amendment (guaranteeing the vote to black citizens). In 1916, in Butler v Perry, the Court rejected a challenge brought by a Florida man to a state law that required all able-bodied men between 21 and 45, when called to do so, to work for up to 60 hours on maintaining public roads. The plaintiff, convicted of failing to put in his time on the roads and sentenced to jail, argued that the law mandated “involuntary servitude” in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment. Justice McReynolds, writing for the Court, concluded “the term ‘involuntary servitude’ was intended to cover those forms of compulsory labor akin to African slavery which, in practical operation, would tend to produce like undesirable results.”
Jones vs Alfred H. Mayer Co. (1968) arose when the developer of a surburban St. Louis subdivision refused to sell Joseph Jones a home because he was black. Jones sued the developer, alleging a violation of the 1866 Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C. 1982) which granted “all citizens of the United States…the same right as is enjoyed by white citizens…to purchase…real property.” The Court rejected the developer’s argument that Congress lacked the power under Section 2 of the 13th Amendment to ban private discrimination in housing. According to the Court in Jones, so long as Congress could rationally conclude that private discrimination in the housing market was “a badge of slavery,” the statute should be upheld.
Finally, in Memphis v Greene (1981) the Court reversed a 6th Circuit ruling that the closing of a road separating an all-white neighborhood from a predominately black neighborhood constituted a violation of the Thirteenth Amendment. The Court found that the modest inconvenience and speculative loss of property value to black residents was insufficient either to be considered “a badge of slavery” protected against by the Thirteenth Amendment, or a violation of the 1866 Civil Rights Act enacted under the power granted to Congress by Section 2 of the amendment. Four dissenting justices would have found the closing to violate the 1866 Act.
No matter what our society is trying to tell us now, banning things of the past because they do not fit with the PC template of today is stupid. What we need to do, is learn our history, and reading the whole Constitution, and then finding out why it was written the way it was would be a good start. Banning parts of it because they are offensive or outdated is not the way to do it. When you do it that way, it is just cowardice. NOTHING MORE. Today’s reading of the Constitution was a good way to start, but it was pure cowardice to not read it the way it was written, leaving things out that actually should be there.
May God bless our efforts to help get America back, and put God back into our country.
God, Bless America. Bless Americans.