Talk:Three-Fifths Compromise

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Original Research?[edit]

The Three-Fifths compromise ensured that Thomas Jefferson was elected to office. Also, via Andrew Jackson, the Trail of Tears would never have happened, nor would the ban on congress to discuss slavery have been put into effect. Also, the 1820 Missouri compromise would never have come into effect. While it is arguable that the 3/5ths compromise may have slowed the day that America came to blows with itself, via the Civil War, it is also arguable that the 3/5ths compromise caused most of the problems between the North and South.

What's the point of this paragraph? Seems like original research and POV unless there's a citation for it. Tetigit 05:37, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

Well, it is quite true that many Democratic electoral successes were due to the three-fifths compomise; I'll try to fix that paragraph up to get rid of the original research.--Pharos 07:01, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

That was not OR. It is all demonstrated in Garry Wills book already cited as a reference for the article. DMorpheus 13:29, 23 September 2007 (UTC)

3/5 economically productive?[edit]

The comment "The compromise was based on the belief that a slave was supposedly three-fifths as economically productive as a white." was recently added, but I've certainly never heard that argument. Can someone cite a source, or otherwise I'll go ahead and modify this.

AFAIK, the compromise was purely that- a compromise between those who wanted slaves to count as a full person (for representational purposes only, not human rights purposes) and those who thought if they were to be treated as property, they should be counted as such (which is to say, not at all). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Prothonotar (talkcontribs) 15:17, June 6, 2005

Oh no. I'm going to have to be the evil devil's advocate and defend the south's position. The South's position that a slave be counted for representation is logical within the theory of American democracy of the time. Women also did not vote, but were counted for puposes of representation. The reason is that American democracy was founded on the idea that government is unnatural and its existence is a compromise between the power of collective defense and other benefits of organization and the natural state of mankind where everyone walks around in a loin cloth making up his own rules according to the dictates of his own reason and consciounce. (okay, so i added the loin cloth part.) The exception to this is the family, which they felt was the only natural form of human organization. A vote was per family, with the adult male representing his own family. Thus even though he was the only one voting, his vote counted for him and all his dependants. The South felt that since slaves were dependants as well, they should be counted for purposes of representation just like other non-voting members of society, like women. Basejumper2 07:23, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Your argument is nonsense even on its own terms. No one counted 3/5ths of the white women or 3/5ths of the white kids. Where did the 3/5ths come from? Can you cite any sources for this theory? DMorpheus 15:11, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Exactly my point. Nobody counted 3/5ths of the white women or 3/5ths of the kids. They counted ALL of them. So the south was correct. Just like those non voting citizens were counted completely, so to the non voting slaves should have been counted as a whole person. The 3/5ths was a random number chosen to give the south most of what they wanted, but still deny them enough of what the logically deserved to give free states the hope of gaining enough of a numerical advantage in Congress to eventually end slavery. Basejumper2 13:48, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Can you cite a source for this novel argument? DMorpheus 13:30, 23 September 2007 (UTC)
I didn't think so. DMorpheus 18:22, 1 October 2007 (UTC)
While I can understand that perspective, at the same time, counting women and children is equivalent, in terms of representation, to only counting men. That is, as long as every state adopts the same standard, either only counting men, or counting both men and women, they will have the same relative populations. If state A has 40% more men than state B, it will also have 40% more women. Male children are future voters, and thus there is a logic in counting them and female children are in the same position as women. Slaves, on the other hand, were neither voters nor potential voters, and their proportion varied from state to state.
Also, by your reasoning, the number of households rather than humans should've been counted. Thus, a single man would count the same as a married man with 6 children and dozens of slaves. Each represents a single household and thus a single vote. Nik42 (talk) 06:05, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

race and slavery are separate issues[edit]

Several commentators in this discussion make the common error of assuming that the Constitution was refering to racial or national categories rather than specifically to the status of free or enslaved individuals. A slave is not necessarily the same as an African or African-American. A free person is not necessarily a white person. The Constitution does not assume that slavery was racially-based, although that was generally the reality by 1787.

Indeed. Sam 21:15, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Though race and slavery are separate issue, regarding the compromise it was drafted to refer to black slaves; when you look at the numbers of Africans brought to the North American continent, they out number the natives. This only being that a census wasn't really taken regarding Native North Americans. Though there were slaves of many different races on this land, the majority is generally thought of when referencing. This of course would lead towards African Americans. The wording of this compromise and the Constitution is very smart as to not mention race. It was created with thought but thought towards Africans and the African Americans. Common sense. Look into what slavery actually was..a money maker. Where did most slaves come from? It's almost as if the above person was trying to find a loophole to splinter away from race or national categories with the above comment. The creators of the Constitution were highly educated when it came to manipulation of words. Anyone with a grasp for wording can manipulate words to guide it towards other meanings with an underlining obvious meaning. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sagemecca (talkcontribs) 23:57, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Original Research Again[edit]

"Although the words "slave" and "slavery" are not found in the Constitution this and two other references to the institution of slavery are widely interpreted as giving an implicit sanction to the institution in the U.S. Constitution. The other two references are the prohibition for Congress to restrict the international slave trade for twenty years (Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 1), and the provision for a fugitive slave clause (Article IV, Section 2, Paragraph 3)." They may be widely interpreted that way in liberal arts colleges, but not so widely elsewhere. This is an important entry - clean it up. Sam 16:11, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. In fact the compromise could be just as easily viewed as the Constitution's recognition of the Existence of slavery, but also of its opinion that it was morally abhorant and should eventually be abolished. It also is constitutional recognition of slaves as human beings. "3/5ths of all other Persons." IT does not, as some say, count a slave as only 3/5ths of a person, but rather as an entire person within a population which is only partially counted for representation it cannot benefit from. Basejumper2 13:54, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Extremely widespread misconception[edit]

I realize that this article exists primarily to cover the "facts" of history, but I think room in this article should also be made for directly addressing the extremely widespread misconception about the three-fifths compromise, i.e. that it was some sort of statement by the framers that African Americans were "60% as human" as whites. The majority of people coming to this article will probably already have this idea in their minds, and I think it would be appropriate to correct this by mentioning it specifically as a widespread misconception.--Pharos 16:30, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Leftists, race-baiters, and sundry demagogues who benefit from portraying modern black folk as victims misconstrue and mis-characterize the three-fifths compromise to de-legitimize and abase the Framers and, by implication, the Constitution itself. They probably know better, but their rhetoric serves their political and ideological purposes. It's just a shame that so many people buy into it. The fact is the three-fifths compromise was the beginning of the end of slavery in America. Without it, it's doubtful the Constitution would have been ratified (and certainly not unanimously), and slavery as an institution would have lasted much longer on the continent than it did. Schnaz (talk) 01:48, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
If somebody wants to deliberately distort the Constitution, or can't be bothered to read it for themselves, there's not much we can do about that. What concerns me more are the people who heard the "three fifths of a person" interpretation somewhere, and might read the Compromise that way because that's what they've always been told. I added a brief section referencing two books written by Ph.D.'s that use the specific phrase "three fifths of a person." It's easy to find blogs and opinion pieces that use the phrase, but I thought it best to start with mass-published books from seemingly authoritative sources. -- A. (talk) 20:43, 25 May 2010 (UTC)
Oh, that's nonsense. There's no misconception. Only 3/5 of the population of slaves and indentured servants counted toward representation. That, by extension, means each slave counted as 3/5 of a person. You could argue that the constitution may not have been ratified without the compromise, but it DOES say that "other persons" are only 3/5 of a free man. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:44, 28 May 2010 (UTC)
But it says nothing of the kind, and I believe that is the point being made by the person who started this section. Article 1, Section 2 states quite clearly that the number adjustment applies to the apportionment of representation and direct taxes. No mention is made of the degree of anyone's claim to the human race. No personal rights are abridged. And as for indentured servants, it is explicitly stated that the scale factor does not even apply to their numbers.
I would support some sort of refutation of the misconception, but I regret that there is no way to win this one. That simplistic misrepresentation of the Constitution is somehow more enticing than the real thing. People love to say it, and even after reading the actual words, many of them continue to perpetuate the urban legend. Geometricks (talk) 19:11, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

The truth is that slave states were only allowed to count 3/5ths of the slave population towards increasing their number of representatives in Congress. If it hadn't been for the 3/5ths rule, then slave-holding states would have had even more power in the House of Representatives... AnonMoos (talk) 12:57, 22 June 2010 (UTC)

Actually, there's no way to know that for sure, but it hardly matters. In the Constitutional Convention, some Southern Delegates proposed that slaves be counted the same as free men while Northern delegates were proposing that slaves not be counted at all. There were other suggestions that slaves be counted for purposes of representation, but not for taxation and vice versa. We might have ended up with something that could be described as "3/5ths of a man", but the institution of slavery would have been just as bad had they counted slaves equally or not at all.AlanK (talk) 20:04, 25 June 2010 (UTC)
Slavery itself would have been just as bad either way, but the power of slaveholders would have been even more entrenched in the U.S. political system than actually occurred in history if the 3/5ths adjustment factor hadn't existed... AnonMoos (talk) 23:22, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

1800 presidential election[edit]

I removed the following:

"(Adams won a majority of the popular vote and only the skewed Electoral College gave Jefferson the Presidency)."

Wills claims that Adams would have won the electoral vote had electors been apportioned according to free population. Discussing the popular vote only obscures this issue, especially in light of the modern controversy about the Electoral College. Moreover, most states didn't even hold a popular election; electors were appointed by the legislatures (see United States presidential election, 1800). (talk) 21:06, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

1787 constitutional convention[edit]

This article has to be fleshed out more. It's nice to know about the origins of the 3/5 number under the articles. But readers will want to know just what happened at the convention. Who proposed it there? Who supported and who opposed it? What was the vote? If you leave that out, you're not giving the whole story! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:08, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

Some who lurk here who don't want the voting public or the world at large to know or understand the complexities. It's a big boon for pseudo intellectual academia and their money interests to objectify the contemporary United States, its founding, and development as simplistic and vulgar. If you offer substance to pages like these, often a Lilliputian stands ready to delete your time & labor. Most are low-level teachers tampering with history at taxpayers' expense:

Much has been said of the impropriety of representing men who have no will of their own. ...They are men, though degraded to the condition of slavery. They are persons known to the municipal laws of the states which they inhabit, as well as to the laws of nature. But representation and taxation go together. - Alexander Hamilton Jonathan Elliot, ed (1866). The Debates In The Several State Conventions On The Adoption Of The Federal Constitution, As Recommended By The General Convention At Philadelphia, In 1787. J.B. Lippincott & Co. Washington: Taylor & Maury. pp. 237. Marcus Helvidius (talk) 08:40, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

Effects Section Dispute[edit]

I made a change to the Effects section in [1] on account that the wording was difficult to read, but I was reverted by North Shoreman on account that "editor's point is made in the very next sentence." Regardless of the fact that I wasn't changing the meaning of the sentence, I disagree that the next sentence actually "makes a point", but even if it did, that would violate Wikipedia:No_original_research. AlanK (talk) 22:18, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

Your text:
It has been claimed by a wide variety of people[8] that the Three-Fifths Compromise relegated all African-Americans to second-class status, counting them as only three-fifths of a person, but an examination of the text of the provision makes it clear that this was only the case for African-American slaves, not free African-Americans.[9] Free blacks counted fully, while "Indians" did not count at all.
Text before you changed it:
It has been claimed by a wide variety of people[8] that the Three-Fifths Compromise relegated all African-Americans to second-class status, counting them as only three-fifths of a person, but an examination of the text of the provision makes it clear that this is not the case: "Persons" "other" than "free Persons" clearly means slaves.[9] Free blacks counted fully, while "Indians" did not count at all.
Both versions contain the exact same information (i.e. only slaves count as three-fifths, free blacks count as one), but the latter does it in fewer words. Your edit summary indicates your intent was to "Cleared up confusing wording", although I fail to see how anyone could be confused. Your version was not an improvement and I haven't got a clue about why this has anything to do with original research -- especially since you also include the sentence in your version of the paragraph. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 02:44, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
On closer examination, it appears that the whole paragraph constitutes original research. The footnote number 8 does not support the statement that "It has been claimed by a wide variety of people" -- all the note directs us to is two incorrect inferences that may or may not be reflective of "a wide variety of people". I have removed the entire paragraph, pending verification that this is, in fact, a widely held misperception and not simply a strawman situation. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 03:02, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Thank you for considering this. Considering the bigger picture, I'm not sure that the paragraph added anything of value to the article. It may be technically true, but it is a minor issue that meant very little to how the 3/5ths compromise affected the nation historically. AlanK (talk) 20:55, 7 July 2009 (UTC)


What exactly is meant by 'Indians not taxed'? This have anything to do with reservations? --Gwern (contribs) 00:24 2 December 2009 (GMT)

Perhaps not - in context (looking at the dates involved), it would appear to be a way of distinguishing those who were members of the community or not. Tedickey (talk) 01:02, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
It means those who had their own quasi-autonomous governments, so that for most purposes the U.S. national government did not really deal with individuals directly, but only with the group as a whole (and its leaders.).. AnonMoos (talk) 12:16, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
In any case, it was defunct by 1924, when all Indians were declared to be U.S. citizens... AnonMoos (talk) 07:54, 21 November 2011 (UTC)

Historical Fiction in the Effects Section[edit]

Why launch a tangent regarding what might have happened if the 3/5s had been replaced with 0? This did not actually happen. Why not consider if it were 1 or 3/4s each of which was taken seriously during negotiations. As long as we are considering imaginary worlds where 3/5s was zero, why not imagine that the free born population was reduced to zero too? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Meadbert (talkcontribs) 17:57, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

It's said to be speculation by historian Gary Wills, not science fiction... AnonMoos (talk) 00:30, 24 September 2010 (UTC)
Gary Wills or not, if the point is to be neutral shouldn't both extreme cases, 1 and 0, as well as the other compromise ratios be taken into account, not just zero and 3/5ths? It seems like a cherry-picked data set to me. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Nesogra (talkcontribs) 17:41, 1 May 2011 (UTC)


This is a specific historic compromise. Therefore, its name is a proper noun, and all nontrivial words in its name should be capitalized. I have edited the article accordingly and moved the article to the appropriate headword. Marco polo (talk) 18:28, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

Three-Fifths Compromise Misconceptions[edit]

How can we correctly incorporate into the Wikipedia article the misconceptions surrounding the Three-Fifths Compromise and clause without it being labeled a Soapbox or other violation? Chiefly, the belief the compromise meant the founders considered blacks only partial human beings (i.e. three-fifths of a person). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ziggypowe (talkcontribs) 20:32, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

The usual guidelines: WP:RS, WP:NPOV, WP:NOR, WP:Soap TEDickey (talk) 01:23, 28 February 2012 (UTC)
I think the key is not to try to assign intent to the framers. There were a lot of delegates at the convention. I think it's fair to say that different framers had different intentions behind this section. Neither the North nor the South got everything they wanted except a Constitution that they could live with. It's possible that some framers considered black slaves to be equals while others considered them nothing more than chattel, and others put them somewhere in between. The misconception isn't that the framers valued a black person at 3/5ths of a person, but that a modern person can actually read the minds of people in the 18th century. A compromise is never a statement of someone's beliefs, but a middle-road between two divergent beliefs.
The controversy should be mentioned simply as such. It's difficult, but possible to explain the arguments of the sides in a controversy without subscribing to either side. Give the readers the facts on the compromise as well as the arguments of the controversy and let the readers decide for themselves. Wikipedia doesn't sell points of view, but it can describe them. AlanK (talk) 21:00, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
The intent was to restrict slave-state representation in the House of Representatives from being too disproportionate (and to allocate per capita taxes), not to indulge in theoretical abstract metaphysics about the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin the relative numerical value of souls. It so happens that we have fairly extensive records of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, and the Federalist Papers appeared soon after the convention, so I don't think that we're as ignorant as you seem to assume... AnonMoos (talk) 03:09, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
Agree. Further, this statement in the current article -- "In amending the Articles, the North wanted slaves to count for more than the South did, because the objective was to determine taxes paid by the states to the federal government." -- is incorrect. A key intent of the slave debate, at this point in time, was that southern states would derive greater benefit with one slave counting as one human being. Northern states wanted only a free man to be counted as one, a slave to not be counted, thereby negating the effect of having and keeping slaves in southern states. This is not a small detail, nor would this be an interpretation of intent, but more a factual context. The idea that this compromise was a result of morality or metaphysics or any other sentiment is laughable.10stone5 (talk) 06:07, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
Why don't we get to the point here? Some of the founders thought that slaves were property and thus not entitled to vote. The North wanted to tax the slaves, but did not want to give them the right to vote as well. The South did not want to be taxed for their slaves and did not want to give them the right to vote either. So the misconception here is that the founders did not think that slaves were 3/5 of a person, but not people at all, only property.  kgrr talk 14:37, 2 March 2013 (UTC)
Whatever they thought about the nature and human status of black people, they did not use the 3/5ths clause to express such thoughts. The purpose of the 3/5ths clause was quite different. AnonMoos (talk) 00:48, 3 March 2013 (UTC)
Incidentally, that discussion of the right to vote is a non-starter. The 3/5 clause makes no mention of that right, and in fact the popular vote is not addressed in the Constitution. No one was given or denied a Constitutional right to vote. Ammendments 15, 19, and 24 struck down certain restrictions, but they had no direct connection with this clause.--Geometricks (talk) 03:00, 1 November 2013 (UTC)
I find the wording "since slaves could not vote, non-slaves in slave states would thus have the benefit of increased representation" misleading. It implies that non-slaves were represented because they could vote. Most non-slaves couldn't vote, on account of age or gender. -- (talk) 03:51, 9 March 2015 (UTC)

Evidence of the Three Fifths Compromise intent[edit]

Is there online incontrovertible evidence that the Three Fifths Compromise intended to count three fifths of the enumerated population of slaves? It is argued by many that the Three Fifths Compromise counted slaves as partial human beings, i.e., three fifths of a person. I intend to prove this as a prevarication and fallacy. I wish to get irrefutable and easily accessible evidence from the internet to prove slaves where not counted as three fifths of a person. Please provide internet links and concise descriptions to conclusive online proof (e.g. link to section of the Federalist Papers describing the intent of the three fifths clause or compromise, if section exist). --Ziggypowe (talk) 00:37, 9 July 2012 (UTC)

They were practical politicians, not scholastic metaphysical angel-on-head-of-pin counters. The Federalist Papers and the records of the 1787 constitutional convention are both on-line for you to search through, if you wish... AnonMoos (talk) 08:34, 2 April 2013 (UTC)


The section on "Effects" compares what happened under the 3/5 compromise to what would have happened if slaves had not counted at all, and refers to "the disproportionate representation of slaveholding states relative to voters". This is seriously NPOV, because it's written as though there was only one alternative (i.e. not counting slaves at all) and this would have been the proper one. It may equally well be argued that slaves should have been counted in full, the same as women and children who also did not have a vote—by this reasoning what was disproportionate was the underrepresentation of slaveholding states relative to their population. Equal space should be given to this alternative and the wording should be neutralized.

-- (talk) 06:17, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

We're just reporting what Garry Wills said. AnonMoos (talk) 23:46, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
I came here to make the same comment, or actually I think the original comment is too charitable. I don't know if counterfactuals really belong here in the first place but even if they do, calling a model where slaves are not counted at all proportional, and an alternative that gives them 3/5 weight disproportionally favorable, seems biased and kind of offensive really. Maybe that's not the case when read in the full context of Wills' book but as written here it is. Plesner (talk) 19:53, 3 December 2014 (UTC)
I completely agree with Plesner and "Disproportionate" is perspective-laden. Myshortpencil (talk) 22:59, 9 May 2017 (UTC)
With respect, I disagree completely.
Women and children (i.e., nonvoters) were equally distributed across all regions of the USA. Thus, even though they could not vote, their absence from representation could not have any *disproportionate* electoral effect.
Slaves were heavily concentrated in one region (some of the border "slave" states had tiny numbers of slaves) and therefore, their electoral effect was disproportionate compared to other regions. For example, nearly half the population of South Carolina was enslaved; zero percent of New York was enslaved. The effect on representation and the electoral college was disproportionate by the 3/5ths rule.
regards, DMorpheus2 (talk) 12:37, 10 May 2017 (UTC)
In 1789, voting qualifications differed in many ways from state to state. But by about 1830, with the rise of Jacksonian democracy, an approximation to universal suffrage for all adult white citizen males had been achieved, and this threw a light on states whose proportion of Congressmen (and in the electoral college) was higher than their proportion of adult white citizen males in the national population. (It also threw a light on Rhode Island, but that's a different issue.) AnonMoos (talk) 07:53, 13 May 2017 (UTC)
Indeed. Black citizens could vote on an equal basis in some states in ~1800. DMorpheus2 (talk) 13:43, 13 May 2017 (UTC)

Wills' calculations[edit]

The three-fifths ratio, or "Federal ratio", had a major effect on pre-Civil War political affairs due to the disproportionate representation of slaveholding states relative to voters. For example, in 1793 slave states would have been apportioned 33 seats in the House of Representatives had the seats been assigned based on the free population; instead they were apportioned 47. Is this really in Wills? It has a really basic factual error: during the 3rd United States Congress, 63 of the 105 members of the House of Representatives were from slave states. Look at File:US SlaveFree1800.gif; only New York, Pennsylvania, and the five New England states were free in 1800, and New York had emancipated just one year before. During the 3rd Congress, Connecticut had 7 representatives; Massachusetts 14; New Hampshire 4; Pennsylvania 13; Rhode Island 2; and Vermont 2. I don't know the formula for determining numbers of representatives following the 1790 census (but remember that they didn't have a set number of representatives then, as we've had since the 1910 census), but even if they would have had 33 seats based on free population, they definitely didn't get just 47. Nyttend (talk) 12:28, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

I haven't read Wills, but probably he was using a slightly anachronistic definition of "slave state". By the time of the first national crisis over slavery in 1819-1820, slavery was abolished or clearly on its way out across the north, while it had gained in economic importance and was spreading into new territories in the south. Things were not yet so clearly polarized in 1793... AnonMoos (talk) 13:45, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
The material in question is contained on page 6 of Wills' "Negro President". Wills actually directly quotes Leonard Richards in "The Slave Power" (pages 56-57). It is clear from the context of both works that the authors are referring to Southern slave states rather than total slave states. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 17:41, 26 October 2013 (UTC)

Clarification Needed - Did the South Gain a Third More Power in Congress?[edit]

The opening paragraph states that the compromise gave “southern slave-owners a third more seats in Congress and a third more electoral votes than they would otherwise have had” needs to be explained. Was that just for the first session of Congress? As stated later on the page, in 1793 “Southern slave states had 47 members" because of the compromise, but would have only had 33” without it. That’s 42% more. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:28, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

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Removal of material 12-14-2016[edit]

The following was in the article to refute a claim that the 3/5 Compromise gave Jefferson the 1800 election: "Other historians, however, have criticized Wills' analysis as simplistic. The link to support this is dead but I found a workable link at [2]. However the article linked (actually at interview) does not support the claim. At best, a single historian, Jack Rakove, offers a different counterfactual argument based on the possibility that several state delegations could have changed their minds. Wills, also being interviewed at the same time quoted the following to Rakove that Rakove had written: "The Republican [Jefferson] victory depended on the additional votes gained through the application of the three-fifths clause to the Electoral College. But this factor arguably brings us within the realm of constitutional tragedy rather than mere stupidity."

All in all, the article does not support the claim being made so I am removing it. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 22:45, 14 December 2016 (UTC)

Process at the Convention[edit]

I added a section detailing the process that was followed at the convention:

1) 3/5ths of slaves proposed
2) 3/5ths of slaves rejected
3) Full representation of slaves proposed, rejected
4) 3/5ths accepted

There is a problematic line in the wiki article: "reduced the representation of the slave states relative to the original proposals, but improved it over the Northern position" - this line could give the impression to some that somehow the north's position - opposing slavery - was somehow wrong. Noting in the article the very important facts that the compromise was initially voted down as well as contentious clarifies this line and casts it in the proper light. It should also be noted, but I will leave that to others, the clear math issue using Garry Wills' numbers.

In 1793, the slave states would have only had 33 members without representation - which is what the north preferred. By 3/5ths, the slave states had 47 representatives, vs 56 for the free states. But what if the south would have had its way and gained full representation for its slave population? The southern states would have had more like 55 representatives, and the northern states would have been the minority. Progressingamerica (talk) 22:40, 22 May 2018 (UTC)

Some of the commenters in sections above seem to believe that at the 1787 convention, there were scholastic metaphysical mystical debates about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin the relative worth of souls, but I found a reprint of Madison's Notes (ISBN 0-393-30405-1), and no such debates are reported to take place -- just debates about whether population or taxed property should be used as the basis of representation, some people pointing out that the 3/5ths rule isn't one thing or the other, and denunciations of slavery by Gouverneur Morris. AnonMoos (talk) 03:09, 6 June 2018 (UTC)