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Tue May 4, 2021, 11:33 PM

Tennessee Lawmaker Is Criticized for Remarks on Three-Fifths Compromise

NASHVILLE — The Three-Fifths Compromise, an agreement reached during the negotiations in 1787 to create the United States Constitution, found that, for the purposes of representation and taxation, only three-fifths of a state’s enslaved people would be counted toward its total population. It is regarded as one of the most racist deals among the states during the country’s founding.

Yet in a speech in the Tennessee General Assembly on Tuesday, one representative defended the compromise, arguing that it was “a bitter, bitter pill” that was necessary to curtail the power of slaveholding states and that helped clear the way to ending slavery — remarks that were rebuked by critics, including Black colleagues, as insulting and demeaning.

“By limiting the number of population in the count,” the state representative, Justin Lafferty, a Republican from Knoxville, said on the House floor, participants in the Constitutional Convention “specifically limited the number of representatives that would be available in the slaveholding states, and they did it for the purpose of ending slavery — well before Abraham Lincoln, well before the Civil War.”

The comments came as lawmakers in Tennessee were debating legislation on Tuesday aimed at limiting what public and charter schools can teach students about the influence of institutional racism and privilege.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/04/us/politics/justin-lafferty-tennessee-three-fifths-compromise.html

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Reply Tennessee Lawmaker Is Criticized for Remarks on Three-Fifths Compromise (Original post)
TexasTowelie May 4 OP
Hugh_Lebowski May 4 #1
Claire Oh Nette May 5 #3
Hugh_Lebowski May 5 #4
Claire Oh Nette May 5 #5
Hugh_Lebowski May 5 #7
Claire Oh Nette May 5 #8
Hugh_Lebowski May 5 #10
Claire Oh Nette May 5 #11
Hugh_Lebowski May 5 #12
Claire Oh Nette May 5 #13
Claire Oh Nette May 5 #9
Deuxcents May 4 #2
Claire Oh Nette May 5 #6

Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Tue May 4, 2021, 11:42 PM

1. I'm kinda curious as to what degree what he said is factually incorrect

As opposed to just an anathema to mention?

From what I understand, the Northern States, the ostensibly anti-slavery group ... wanted slaves to count as Zero human beings.

I wonder ... would that outcome have been better?

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Response to Hugh_Lebowski (Reply #1)

Wed May 5, 2021, 12:24 AM

3. The Virginia Presidents

Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe

The Southern states wanted to count all of their slaves for determining representation. The 3/5 compromise gave Virginia in particular and the Carolinas more seats in congress from the get go. The 3/5 compromise is directly responsible for all those Virginia presidents.

The Constitution banned the Slave Trade, but by the time that ban went into effect, there wasn't a need for importing human labor, since children born to slave women were slaves.

There was no real push to eliminate chattel slavery in setting up the house of representative or the Constitution.

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Response to Claire Oh Nette (Reply #3)

Wed May 5, 2021, 12:33 AM

4. "There was no real push to eliminate chattel slavery in setting up the house of representative ..."

So, the Northern States had no inclination toward (eventually) getting rid of slavery back at that time, but they wanted the slaves to count as 0 human beings (instead of 1) ... because why?

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Response to Hugh_Lebowski (Reply #4)

Wed May 5, 2021, 12:44 AM

5. Zero Fifths / abolition

Small northern states didn't want to count any slaves not for purposes of abolishing slavery, but to limit population counted for representation.

The Founders were uncomfortable with the juxtaposition of chattel slavery and liberty, but they were heavily committed to the sanctity of private property, limited government and inter sectional harmony.

It benefitted Southern states to include enslaved population to give them more seats in the House of Representatives and thus more political power. Delegates from Northern states, however, objected on the grounds that enslaved people could not vote, own property, or take advantage of the privileges that White men enjoyed. (None of the lawmakers called for the end of slavery, but some of the representatives did express their discomfort with it. George Mason of Virginia called for anti-slave trade laws, and Gouverneur Morris of New York called slavery “a nefarious institution.”)


That doesn't sound like a hearty push to end slavery. The northern delegated may have had issues with slavery but they weren't pushing for abolition during the Constitutional Convention.

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Response to Claire Oh Nette (Reply #5)

Wed May 5, 2021, 01:09 AM

7. "The Constitution banned the Slave Trade" ... but this was not a hearty push?

Also, why were they worried about the Southern states having more political power if they didn't give 2 shits about slavery?

Was there something else about these states (apart from slavery) that made allowing them to have power commensurate with their populations ... egregious?

I dunno ... I'm kinda struggling with how upset I should get when a RePuQ congressman from TN wants to give the Northern States delegates credit for attempting to end slavery, well before Abraham Lincoln.

I don't know how we KNOW that all these Northerners cared about was their own political power, and did NOT actually fear the slave states gaining so much power (due to their populations) that they could force slavery to be accepted at the Federal level.

I also kinda think if you're lobbying for slaves to count as ZERO people, on account of their rights being so limited, this effectively constitutes an 'anti-slavery protest' kind of position to take, inherently.

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Response to Hugh_Lebowski (Reply #7)

Wed May 5, 2021, 01:47 AM

8. Importing slaves

There were plenty of slaves, and all babies born to slave woemn were slaves. They didn't need to import when the white masters began breeding their own.

No, they weren't out to abolish slavery when they compromised. They weren't.

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Response to Claire Oh Nette (Reply #8)

Wed May 5, 2021, 01:58 AM

10. Okay, well it kinda seems like banning the importation was definitely a shot across the bow, but if

you say not, then okey-dokey.

So ... in this 'compromise' given what you've just said, I'd assume you take the position that the North should've stuck to its guns, as it were (although there was no actual moral purpose behind this position), and insisted that slaves would be counted as 0 human beings, and the egregious part is that they caved and allowed slaves to be counted as >0 people, like the South wanted?

Even though it likely would've resulted in the USA as we know it ... not happening?

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Response to Hugh_Lebowski (Reply #10)

Wed May 5, 2021, 02:10 AM

11. It's never good to assume, Hugh

The Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan.

Read up.

It's wrong to view the Constitution as a strictly North-South thing, when it was a large state, small state issue.

Go to Jefferson's own writings, he of the All men are created equal brilliance.

At the time of the American Revolution, Jefferson was actively involved in legislation that he hoped would result in slavery’s abolition. In 1778, he drafted a Virginia law that prohibited the importation of African slaves. In 1784, he wrote an ordinance that would ban slavery in the Northwest territories (Big Ten country).

But Jefferson always maintained that the decision to emancipate slaves would have to be part of a democratic process; abolition would be stymied until slaveowners consented to free their human property together in a large-scale act of emancipation.

To Jefferson, it was anti-democratic and contrary to the principles of the American Revolution for the federal government to enact abolition or for only a few planters to free their slaves.

Although Jefferson continued to advocate for abolition, the reality was that slavery was becoming more entrenched. The slave population in Virginia skyrocketed from 292,627 in 1790 to 469,757 in 1830. Jefferson had assumed that the abolition of the slave trade would weaken slavery and hasten its end. Instead, slavery became more widespread and profitable. In an attempt to erode Virginians’ support for slavery, he discouraged the cultivation of crops heavily dependent on slave labor—specifically tobacco—and encouraged the introduction of crops that needed little or no slave labor—wheat, sugar maples, short-grained rice, olive trees, and wine grapes. But by the 1800s, Virginia’s most valuable commodity and export was neither crops nor land, but slaves-home grown, born right here.





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Response to Claire Oh Nette (Reply #11)

Wed May 5, 2021, 02:41 AM

12. Okay let me be clear what I'm getting at ...

You've provided addt'l food for thought above ...

"Jefferson always maintained that the decision to emancipate slaves would have to be part of a democratic process

To Jefferson, it was anti-democratic and contrary to the principles of the American Revolution for the federal government to enact abolition or for only a few planters to free their slaves."

So, to one of the most influential minds of the time and 4th POTUS, it was preferable to end slavery, but it need to happen through democratic processes, correct?

My question to you is (if you care to answer, all good either way)

What was the proper outcome re: this compromise? As you've said essentially the small states had zero 'moral authority' for what they were asking (slaves don't count as people), it was purely a power play on their part. They were trying to nothing 'good' regarding slavery, right?

SO is your position that the problem with this compromise (keeping in mind this demographics issue was extant, and had to be dealt with in some fashion) was the small states should've refused to allow for slaves to count >0 people, no matter what, regardless of consequence in terms of successfully forming the Union (TJ's democratic processes being contingent on a Union)?

If so, then it seems like it would follow that the larger states argument 'slaves are still human beings, so they should count for apportionment' is the inherently deplorable position to take?

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Response to Hugh_Lebowski (Reply #12)

Wed May 5, 2021, 11:38 AM

13. THe problem with the compromise is slavery

I don't know what "should have been done." Ideally, there should never have been chattel slavery. The SOuthern slaveowners didn't view their Black labor as People or Human Beings. Residents of Northern states at the time of the Constitutional convention were not trying to bring about an end to slavery in any way. Wanting non voting people to remain uncounted at all diminishes them as well.

Accepting slavery in any form is the inherently intolerable position to take. Slavery by definition is the antithesis of freedom, liberty, and democracy. We didn't really have a democracy, we had an oligarchy with some democratic enlightenment ideals baked in.

If they aren't counted at all, then emancipation would have to suddenly account for them. They weren't thinking about Emancipation in 1787. They weren't thinking about one man, one vote, either. Landed white men voted, not tenant farmers and poor whites.

The problem with the three fifths compromise is that most yahoos still think that means Black people are only 60% as good as white people. This false White superiority is at the root of racism. There is a certain subset of white people, a rather large subset, I'm afraid, who still believe their lack of pigmentation is a sign of better when it isn't. The bigots know they're not better.

These states are not examining the 3/5 compromise to the benefit of any person of color. It's justification for more jim crow and voter suppression. Those same states have passed a law that history teachers can not teach anything that's divisive. If you ask me, white supremacy is divisive, just like sexism is divisive. Dividing all the Others from the straight, white christian man.

There is no one more divisive that the Straight, white, christian man who demands unity and adherence to his opinion...

There is no right answer on that Compromise. That Compromise kicked the can and set up the next 80 years of sectionalism and eventual war because one group wanted to own people.

It's hard to find many compromises in history that were for the benefit of anyone but the most affluent, most landed folks. and with a few exceptions, like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and now the ACA, that still holds true.

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Response to Hugh_Lebowski (Reply #7)

Wed May 5, 2021, 01:52 AM

9. NJ Plan apportionment, not abolition

If you want to think Mr. Tennessee is accurate in his defense of the 3/5th compromise, be my guest.

He is not.

He's offering revisionist history. Not wanting to count Blacks is not the same as pushing to abolish slavery, just as giving Blacks 60% humanity didn't give them 60% of the vote.

lots of primary sources on line. All the half baked racist ideas are being trotted out by people with little grasp of actual history.

The New Jersey Plan was about apportionment, not abolition.

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Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Tue May 4, 2021, 11:50 PM

2. I wonder...

Will this country ever get over this mentality?

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Response to Deuxcents (Reply #2)

Wed May 5, 2021, 12:48 AM

6. No. LBJ called this 60 years ago.

"If you can convince the lowest white man that he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

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