you're reading...
'everything that's old is new again', agenda, American, annoyance, answers, choices, Constitution, evil, history, ignorance, lessons, politically incorrect, race-relations, tactics, The Republic, The South

Three-Fifths Of An Idea

by Walter Williams  (Human Events)

Many of my columns speak highly of the wisdom of our nation’s founders. Every once in a while, I receive an ugly letter sarcastically asking what do I think of their wisdom declaring blacks “three-fifths of a human.” It’s difficult to tell whether such a question is prompted by ignorance or is the fruit of an ongoing agenda to undermine American greatness. Let’s examine some facts about our founders and slavery.

At the time of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, slaves were 40 percent of the population of southern colonies. Apportionment in the House of Representatives and the number of electoral votes each state would have in presidential elections would be based upon population. Southern colonies wanted slaves to be counted as one person. Northern delegates to the convention, and those opposed to slavery, wanted to count only free persons of each state for the purposes of apportionment in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College. The compromise reached was that each slave would be counted as only three-fifths of a person.

If the convention delegates had not reached this compromise, the Constitution would have not been ratified and there would not have been a Union. My questions to those who criticize the three-fifths clause are twofold. Would it have been preferable for the southern states to be able to count slaves as whole persons, thereby giving southern states more political power? Would blacks have been better off without constitutional ratification and a Union made possible by the three-fifths compromise? In other words, would blacks have been better off with northern states having gone their way and southern states having gone theirs and, as a consequence, no U.S. Constitution and no Union? Abolitionist Frederick Douglass understood the compromise, saying that the three-fifths clause was “a downright disability laid upon the slaveholding states” that deprived them of “two-fifths of their natural basis of representation.”

Patrick Henry expressed the reality of the three-fifths compromise, saying, “As much as I deplore slavery, I see that prudence forbids its abolition.” With union, Congress at least had the power to abolish slave trade in 1808. According to delegate James Wilson, many believed the anti-slave-trade clause laid “the foundation for banishing slavery out of this country.”

Many founders openly condemned slavery. George Washington said, “There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it.” John Adams: “Every measure of prudence … ought to be assumed for the eventual total extirpation of slavery from the United States. … I have, throughout my whole life, held the practice of slavery in … abhorrence.” James Madison: “We have seen the mere distinction of color made in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man.” Benjamin Franklin: “Slavery is … an atrocious debasement of human nature.” Franklin, after visiting a black school, said, “I … have conceived a higher opinion of the natural capacities of the black race than I had ever before entertained.” Alexander Hamilton’s judgment was the same: “Their natural faculties are probably as good as ours.” John Jay wrote: “It is much to be wished that slavery may be abolished. The honour of the States, as well as justice and humanity, in my opinion, loudly call upon them to emancipate these unhappy people. To contend for our own liberty, and to deny that blessing to others, involves an inconsistency not to be excused.”

Completely ignored in most discussions of slavery is the fact that slavery was mankind’s standard fare throughout history. Centuries before blacks were enslaved Europeans were enslaved. The word slavery comes from Slavs, referring to the Slavic people, who were early slaves. What distinguishes the West, namely Britain and the U.S., from other nations are the extraordinary measures they took to abolish slavery.

The Founders knew without the South’s vote, they wouldn’t survive as a Republic.  And in their genius put this together.

And now, they are being beaten-up for having done so, by people who don’t know history.

Or people who do…

Because forcing that political view is in the anti-constitutional, anti-Republic agenda.

Believe it.

Advertisements

About guffaw1952

I'm a child of the 50's. libertarian, now medically-retired. I've been a certified firearms trainer, a private investigator, and worked for a major credit card company for almost 22 years. I am a proud NRA Life Member. I am a limited-government, free-market capitalist, who believes in the U.S. Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Discussion

6 thoughts on “Three-Fifths Of An Idea

  1. If anyone thinks they are “kept in their place” by society, cops, schools, etc. and got a raw deal in life, search “Frederick Douglass” and read what he did with his life. Then tell the class how they have it so bad and why “white privilege” is to blame.
    For extra credit, tell everyone how more taxpayer money from Uncle Sugar would make it all better.

    Posted by KM | November 23, 2015, 8:05 am
  2. KM beat me to it. Thank you for posting this; the modern idea (if you can call it that) of trying to sanitize history reeks of the Soviet Russia in the bad old days, and that is abhorrent to me.

    Posted by Rev. Paul | November 23, 2015, 11:41 am
    • You are welcome – I’m glad to have found it!
      Agreed. All this politically-correct sanitizing must stop!
      PS – I’ll see you in the boxcar en route the gulag – and this is not intended to be humorous.
      Sigh.

      Posted by guffaw1952 | November 24, 2015, 8:06 am
  3. If the convention delegates had not reached this compromise, the Constitution would have not been ratified and there would not have been a Union.

    I didn’t go read the whole thing but Williams seems to ignore the fact that there was already a union, and that many people didn’t really think it needed a new constitution. What did the southern states think about the Articles of Confederation?

    Posted by Joel | November 23, 2015, 3:51 pm
    • Well, I can’t answer for Williams, but there was a Confederation, and then a Union.
      The reasons given by the Union folks was the Articles’ nation wasn’t strong enough.
      Of course, history is written by the winners.
      And that wasn’t even done with a war!

      Posted by guffaw1952 | November 24, 2015, 8:11 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

"Round up the usual suspects."

In Loving Memory…

%d bloggers like this: