What is the 3/5th Compromise

By Rahawa (The Rock) Ghebrelul

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During the Constitutional Convention Southern and Northern states had disagreements on slavery.

The Southern Perspective

The Southern States depended on slavery. First, the southern economy was dependent on slave labor. Now these slave states were fighting to get slaves to count in the population. Why? By counting slaves as people not property, the slave states would have more representation in government. And the worst thing was the slaves weren't getting representation, the slave owners were getting more representation. So let's say that Billy Bob owned 100 slaves. If the Southern states got what they wanted and slaves were counted as people, Billy Bob would have the vote of 101 people!

The Northern Perspective

Compared to the southern states, the northern states had a much smaller population, which meant that they had less representatives in the legislature. If slaves were counted as people not property in the southern sates, their representation would grow even more. What was the problem with that? Well, if slave states have a greater representation in congress, they could all vote on bills that benefit them. For example, let's say in congress there was a bill that was introduced to a house of 30 representatives from northern states and 100 from southern states. This bill limited the amount of time a slave owner could own a slave. Of course the slave states would vote against it and the northern states would vote for it. But it wouldn't matter because there was such an overwhelming number of southern representatives, they would win because it was a landslide.


Northern abolitionists also didn't want slaves to be counted in the population because it would persuade slave owners to get more. These plantation owners thought that buying more people could not only make them more money, but increase their political influence.

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In the end, both agreed on the 3/5 compromise. This stated that enslaved people are counted as 3/5ths of a person. So the southern states are happy because they would get more representation in congress and the northerners are happy because they are both limiting the power of the slave states and the spread of slavery.