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Friday, March 30, 2007

All That Jazz About "Three Fifths of a Human"

A friend of mine and I discussed the urban myth that is repeated by politicians like Jesse Jackson and Al Gore, Jr. that Blacks were considered in the U.S. Constitution "three fifths of a human." Many thousands have believed that falsehood for years.

Here is is the actual truth:

"The three-fifths compromise was a compromise between Southern and Northern states reached during the 1787 United States Constitutional Convention in which only three-fifths of the population of slaves would be counted for enumeration purposes regarding both the distribution of taxes and the apportionment of the members of the United States House of Representatives. It was proposed by delegate James Wilson.

"Northern delegates generally wished to count only the free inhabitants of each state. Southern delegates to the Constitutional Convention, on the other hand, generally wanted to count slaves at their actual numbers. Since slaves could not vote, Southern slaveholders would thus have the benefit of increased representation in the House and Electoral College (taxation was only a secondary issue). The final compromise of counting slaves as only three fifths of their actual numbers reduced the power of the slave states but is still generally credited with giving the pro-slavery forces disproportionate political power in the U.S. government from the establishment of the Constitution until the Civil War.

"The three-fifths compromise is found in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution:
"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."

That means 3/5ths of a population, not an individual. In other words, lets say that the southern state of Chittlanta had a total population of 15,000. There were 5000 free Whites and 10,000 slaves. The North wanted Chittlanta to have its number of Congressmen based on 5000 persons. The South wanted Chittlanta to have its number of Congressmen based on 15,000 persons (which was immoral because the slaves had no voice in Congress.) The compromise was counting three fifths of the slave population or 60%. Therefore the number of Congressmen is based on 11,000 persons.

Urban myths tend to take on a life of their own when repeated enough times like the other urben myth circulated in Black communities that it was the Republicans that owned slaves and that Abraham Lincoln was a Democrat.

Take time to study and find out facts.

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Booker T. Washington said:

"There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs -- partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs....There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who do not want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public."

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