The 3/5's Compromise

How was the slave population represented in the new govt.?

Background

  • By the time of the time of the convention 90% of all slaves lived in the South (Maryland and below)
  • In states like Virginia, Maryland and North and South Carolina, slaves made up a decent chunk of the overall population of a state. (20-40%)
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At the Convention

  • Southerners argued that slaves should count as people for determining representation More people = More representatives in the House of Representatives.
  • Northerners argued that because slaves couldn't vote, they should not count in a states population.
  • Many Northerners wanted to abolish slavery; as a result Southern states threatened to secede.
  • Eventually James Madison proposed the "3/5's compromise". This said that 3/5's or 60% of slaves would count towards a states population count.

Question: So why do you think they settled on 3/5's instead of half?

  • Because they were scared of the Southern states leaving, weakening an already fragile country. Also the South provided much in terms of agriculture and other products.
  • The North did get a little...an agreement was made that the slave trade could be "looked at" in 20 years (1808)...it was actually voted to be abolished that year, but only because there were 3-4 million slaves and more "trade" was not needed.