Three-Fifths of a Question

Mark Graber mgraber at
Tue Jan 10 13:28:58 PST 2006

Southerners believed that with the 3/5 clause they would permanently
control the House of Representatives and probably the presidency
(Madison conceded that equal state voting would favor the North).  To
make another pathetic shameless plug, my forthcoming Dred Scott and the
Problem of Constitutional Evil asserts that too much length that
slaveholders emphasize political protections for the human property and
were less interested in the conventional legal protections we highlight
today.  As always, draft available upon request.

Mark A. Graber

>>> Frank Cross <crossf at> 01/10/06 4:15 PM >>>

Remember that politics controls taxation, the states could protect 
themselves in Congress.  And back then almost all taxation was tariffs,
Incidentally, the Chernow biography of Hamilton says in passing that 
Jefferson's election to the presidency and maybe the other Virginians
not have occurred absent the electoral college effects of the 3/5 rule. 
so, it had some pretty remarkable effects on our government that remain

At 03:01 PM 1/10/2006, DavidEBernstein at wrote:
>Why were the southern states so eager to have slaves counted for 
>population purposes?  Obviously, they wanted more representation in the

>House and electoral college, but the Constitution also provided that 
>"direct Taxes shall be apportioned" among the several States by 
>population.  Why weren't the southern delegates concerned that their 
>states would get socked with disproportionate taxation? Did they expect

>limited direct taxes? Or is this a case where the interests of the 
>political class (more political power) diverged from the public's
>(less taxes)?
>David E. Bernstein
>Visiting Professor
>University of Michigan School of Law
>George Mason University School of Law
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Frank Cross
McCombs School of Business
The University of Texas at Austin
1 University Station B6000
Austin, TX 78712-1178

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