Emory Afro-American History Profs Are Wrongly 'Three-Fifths' Steamed

February 27, 2013 - 1:11 PM

One of my pet peeves continues to be the misinformation regarding certain elements of American history, seemingly purposefully disseminated by our politicians and ethnic academia. One example is the continued misinterpretation of the "Three-Fifths Clause" of the U.S. Constitution.

While it's convenient for some to use it as a race-baiting tool to inflame hatred while encouraging the victim mentality by liberal activists, it's truly sad to see it repeated inaccurately in our halls of higher education.

A recent letter to James W. Wagner, President of Emory University, reads (in part):

"The undersigned faculty from the Departments of History and African American Studies at Emory University would like to respond to your article, “As American as … Compromise,” which appeared in the winter 2013 issue of Emory Magazine....

"The very meaning of the Three-Fifths Compromise still resonates negatively today, and nowhere more strongly than in the African American community. Many African Americans within and outside of the academy see only the most glaring aspect of the compromise — that they were valued only a fraction as much as a white American — no matter for what purpose or the context; and many others abhor the denigration inherent in that failed compromise."

The problem is that the Three-Fifths Compromise was NOT written as a way to insult and demean the value of blacks as human beings. The clause reads 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.” - Article I, Section 2, Clause 3

I'm no academic, but here's how I interpret the "Three-Fifths Clause."

The South, during the era of slavery, wanted to include blacks in the population tally so they could increase the number of pro-slavery congressional representatives. It took 30,000 people to get one congressman, and in slave states, slaves outnumbered whites. It was the Democrat hope that with enough pro-slavery congressmen, they could overturn much of the abolitionist legislation Northern Republicans had previously passed.

However, there was one philosophical problem: blacks in Southern states had no rights, thus The North deemed it a joke their value be counted only when it was beneficial to Democrats. Northern abolitionists argued that, since The South considered blacks property, all “property” should be counted for the purpose of determining congressional representation. Thus the Northern abolitionists proposed to include their property: horses, cattle, homes, furniture, pets, etc.

The South denounced the proposal so, anti-slavery northerner, James Wilson of Pennsylvania came up with a "compromise."

Blacks in the Southern states would only be counted as “three fifths” of a person. That way, it would take 50,000 people (instead of the 30,000) in a district to get congressional representation. That would have the effect of limiting the power of the slave states.

It had NOTHING to do with the worth of a person. It had EVERYTHING to do with diminishing the power of Southern racists, like those progressives today that continue to distort the history of an entire people purely for political gain.

For the "faculty from the Departments of History and African American Studies at Emory University" to perpetuate an inaccurate and potentially inflammatory interpretation of the "Three-Fifths Clause" is downright irresponsible.

What's even sadder is that people are actually paying these professors a good salary to provide this disservice.

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