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  • Writer's pictureAngelique Robinson

Is It True Black People Were Really Considered 3/5's Of A Person?

Updated: Nov 27, 2022

Short Answer: NO

The Three-Fifths Compromise has stirred up a lot of controversy in the last few years. Many have been led to believe that the constitution actually read that black people were considered 3/5's of a person. It is understandable how this could be misconstrued when you hear about it. But this misunderstanding is a major reason why we need to know History for ourselves and not believe everything we hear.

The Three-Fifths Compromise was an agreement between delegates from the Northern and the Southern states in 1787. This agreement stated that three-fifths of the slave population would be counted for determining direct taxation and representation in the House of Representatives, not that slaves were 3/5 of a person. It is important to note that this rule was pertaining to slaves not necessarily black persons as not all black people were slaves and not all whites were slave owners. The term that was used in the Constitution was not slave, instead it was a person who was bound to service.

The northern states wanted to abolish slavery and its abhorrent acts, where the southern states refused too. Slave states considered slaves as property. If slaves were property than slavery was justified, but if slaves were in fact people well then they deserve the same rights as everyone else in America. Pro slavery states were obviously against considering slaves as people until it came down for representation in Congress, when it came to representation, they wanted slaves to be considered people. The northern states argued, you can't have it both ways.

Of course this proposed a conundrum for the pro slavery states, because if slaves were just property they could justify keeping them slaves. But if they were people then slaves should have constitutional rights and therefore they deserved the same freedoms written in the Constitution. Unfortunately both the northern and southern states needed each to form their Union. Together they had strength against the British.

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