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The Constitution and the 3/5 compromise

The Constitution and the 3/5 Compromise

The Constitution and the 3/5 Compromise

The most controversial argument about the American Constitution is why slavery was allowed to remain. Prior to the Federal Convention there were the conventions to establish the Articles of Confederation. Before the Articles of Confederation there was the forming of the states constitutions. The issue of slavery was resolved by many states at the inception of state Constitution prior to 1781 when the Articles of Confederation was ratified; this is why when the Federal Constitution was ratified later in 1791 the industry of slavery was allowed to continue.

The Constitution was not a nationalized government. It was a contract between the states forming a trade union and was vested only the powers granted by the States. The purpose of the union was to provide regulation of interstate commerce and to act as an agent in foreign trade and policy. Article I section 8 listed the jurisdiction of the federal common union and the Bill of Rights listed the jurisdiction of the states. This is not to justify slavery as being acceptable; this is to supply the foundation of this subject argument.

The statement known as the 3/5 compromised in the Federal Constitution was a commercial issue addressing taxes and the enumeration of delegates because regardless of the issue of freeman or slave the Federal Government needed to collect taxes to operate. Not until the Civil War was there an income tax rendered. All tax assessments were collected from property and production (labor) and this was the issue of Article I Section 3.

The discussions about how to tax property and labor was first discussed in the committees to form the confederacy of states. Thomas Jefferson took notes of the discussions and was found many years later in his diary journals. The southern states wanted slaves to be taxed the same as live stock, but the northern representative rejected this notion because slaves were not chickens, cows or horse. Slaves were persons; they could plant the crops, harvest the crop, load the crops to wagons and haul the crops to market. They could build the wagons, drive the wagons, fix the wagons, unload and load the wagons. Where livestock; cows produced milk and chicken laid eggs and once they reached a point in production were slaughtered. Live stock had a confined and limited production cycle. Northern representatives also argued that they paid taxes on labor while the southern states profit had the full benefit of free labor because of slavery and the south’s tax rate on labor should be equal. The southern representatives argued that slaves did not produce the same amount of production as free men. Slaves would only work enough to keep from being punished by their masters so the tax rate should be lower.

There were other considerations to take in account. The number of delegates each state was to be appointed was based upon population. There were 17 million slaves living in the south at that time. If slaves were counted as one person the southern states would acquire more representatives in congress giving the southern states more power to make legislation to their benefit. Northern representatives argued that slaves should not be counted because they had no participation in government affairs and were not citizens. The southern representatives argued their labor was being taxed and slaves produced product and their population had to count or no production tax should be applied.

The three fifths ratio was setting differences between the value of labor between a free man and a slave. It was never intended to be a determination that slaves were less than human. The argument that slaves worked less was never to suggest slaves were lazy by nature but meant in distinction that; a free man that had the potential of benefiting from their labor and worked hard long hours to save so they could eventually buy a house; a farm or business and raise their standard of living. Where a slave received no benefit from their labor and had lack of enthusiasm unable to receive fair compensation. The 3/5 compromised did not only reference slaves in the south but was also applicable to indentured labor in the north; immigrants that were obligated to work off their debt incurred from the voyage to reach the colonies from their country of origin – which incidentally is currently illegal – so that any current illegal that agreed to work in exchange for transportation over American borders is in fact violating the constitution because it is slavery!

The Supreme Court determined the Constitution declared slavery legal in the Dred Scott case 1835. Slavery was a state affair and the constitution had no authority declaring slavery as legal or not – it was not the federal jurisdiction – slavery was assumed to be legal if a state constitution allowed it and illegal in the states that disallowed it. The Supreme Court judgment did defend the states rights to have slaves because slavery was a choice exclusively reserved to the states by the Bill of Right that secured moral and ethical rights to state jurisdiction.

The federal did make laws that forced states to choose to be either Slave states or Free states. These federal laws were determined unconstitutional because the federal lacked jurisdiction. So though the Constitution defended the states jurisdiction to have slaves; Slavery was not a federally mandated institution. The law that created slavery was by the individual state constitutions proscribing the right to own slaves. It was the Bill of Rights that designated state jurisdiction over moral rights and the federal government jurisdiction was limited to commercial law involving interstate commerce, at least until the 14th Amendment.

It did in another article attempt to regulate slavery. Article I section 9 specifically addresses the issue of slavery to be the exclusive jurisdiction of the state. It did also insinuate that the federal union did not have the jurisdiction over slave labor prior to 1808. Even though the article did not specifically state the change; the Federal government did have the jurisdiction to stop importation and transfer of slaves across state lines with the ability to charge an impost fee after 1808. The inability of the Federal Constitution to end slavery was because of state sovereignty. There is no denying that certain states desired to keep slavery – just as the Bill of Rights maintained abortion (a moral issue). Why? Because it was a moral issue and was the jurisdiction of the state guaranteed by the Bill of Rights the Federal Supreme Court and the congress of the common union organization did not have the authority to act – because the states did not grant that authority to the federal.

The 14th Amendment was ratified to give jurisdiction to the Supreme Court to hear cases and suits brought to the court one state against another state. The amendment created a national government granting a privilege sanctioned by the state to over see the states. The extent of the increased authority is not listed and has been assumed to be unlimited. This controversy caused by ambiguity in the article brings into perspective the arguments involving the presentation of the original bill, the ratification of the amendment, and the method of ratification of the 14th amendment and the question; could the Federal government relinquish the sovereignty of state with a constitutional article?

Precedence shows that to change the authority of the Federal government there must be a convention of states – joint resolution is a method of ratification yes to affirm an article to the constitution – but – to change forms of government requires a convention separate and independent from congress.

Delegates are selected by the states to include, merchants, manufactures, educators, legal experts and other private persons and former legislators. Elected government officials have no such ability to change forms of government through legislation and no one amendment can be used to void or undermine any other article of the Constitution. Joint resolution is the ratification process applicable after the convention of states does its job – If there were not any civilian committees convened in changing the authorities from a trade union to a national government then the powers assumed by the new Federal Government were circumvented by methods not authorized.

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