Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Revisionists Hide the Truth Behind Constitution's 3/5ths Compromise

When one listens to Al Sharpon it is sometimes difficult to determine if he is just ignorant, or if his worldview is so narrow that all things can only be viewed through the prism of race victimization. Case and point is his view that the Constitution is a racist document due to its defining black slaves as three-fifths human. This is such an absurd mischaracterization one has to wonder if he has actually even read the Constitution.

The three-fifths clause, aka the three-fifths compromise is found in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution and states as follows;

“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.”

The three-fifths compromise first showed up when the Articles of Confederation were being debated. The confederation wanted the South to include their slaves in their population count, which was to be used to determine the amount of taxes paid. The South objected since in some slave states, slaves outnumbered free men by 60% (very close to three fifths) and including them would have over doubled the amount of taxes they would have to pay. “After proposed compromises of 1⁄2 by Benjamin Harrison of Virginia and 3⁄4 by several New Englanders failed to gain sufficient support, Congress finally settled on the 3⁄5 ratio proposed by James Madison. But this amendment ultimately failed, falling two states short of the unanimous approval required for amending the Articles of Confederation (only New Hampshire and New York were opposed).” Wikipedia

The three-fifths compromise was resurrected in the Constitution but for an entirely different reason. Rather than counting black slaves as three fifths a person, the Constitution determined that three fifth’s of the slaves would be counted when determining Congressional representatives, which was based on population. The North did not want to allow the Southern slave states to include their slaves for the representative count, since they were not free men and by definition not represented by congress, they viewed counting the southern slaves as free men as a corruption of the constitutional process; but the South argued that unless their slaves were counted, their representation would be far too few for them to sign on to the Constitution; hence there was a compromise.

If Al Sharpton would have look at the three-fifths compromise in a rational manner, rather than his knee jerk reaction, he would have realized, that rather than him wanting the Constitution to recognize black slaves the same as a free man, it would have been to the slaves best interest that they not be counted at all. This would have reduced the control the Southern slave states had even when counting only 3/5’s of the slaves; the “… result (was) southerners dominated the Presidency, the Speakership of the House, and the Supreme Court in the period prior to the Civil War.” Wikipedia

What you also find is the same revisionists that want to brand the Constitution as racist, also ignore the abolitionist movement as the main causation of the Civil War. It is commonly believed by Historians that there were 5 primary reasons for the Civil War; but these "reasons" are still based in the use of slaves and the abolition movement. #1 The invention of the Cottin Gin; which evolved the South to a one crop economy dependent on slavery. #2 State Rights; even here you find slavery to be the center of this political movement. John C Calhoun is often identified as one of the strongest voices toward limited government and states rights; yet you find his strongest arguments were for the protection of white minority rule and the defense of slavery. #3 The fight between Slave and Non-Slave State Proponents; again you the slave states recognizing that the fewer new slave states, the less pro-slavery representation there would be in Congress. When Kansas and Nebraska became territories a federal act allowed the states to use popular sovereignty to determine whether they would be free or slave. This resulted in wide spread violence in Kansas where proslavery Missourians began to pour into the state to help force it to be slave. #4 Growth of the Abolition Movement; one of the key turning points in this movement was the Dred Scott decision. Dred Scott had far reaching implications as it voided the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Act (described above) challenging state sovereignty in the area of slavery. #5 The election of Abraham Lincoln; it was so strongly believed that Lincoln was an abolitionist that South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas seceded from the Union even prior to his inauguration.

So just as with the three-fifths compromise, the revisionists want to re-define the causes of the Civil War, as anything other than the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of men and women to put an end of slavery. The single theme to the Civil was the abolition of slavery and the white men that were in charge that deemed it so important they were willing to sacrifice their lives and tear the United States apart, before they would allow it to continue.

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