Land Of The Free And Home Of The Enslaved
By 1787, slavery had become an American institution. While enslaved Black people built the country, they were seen as nothing more than chattel property.
This became all too clear at that year’s Constitutional Convention, a time where the question on everybody’s mind was, “Will enslaved Black people count as… people?”
See, the age-old battle between North and South waged on during this time. Because representation in the House corresponded to state populations, Southern states feared their representation would be overshadowed - and overruled - by larger Northern states.
To remedy this, Southern states had a proposition: count enslaved Blacks as part of the population instead of mere property. The North, however, didn’t agree. “They’re property!” some said. “Only freedmen should count.”
So, a compromise was struck - and it was dehumanizing, indeed.
For purposes of representation and taxation, three out of every five enslaved Black people would be counted in the population.
The Three-Fifths Clause would remain in the Constitution for nearly 100 years, the humanity of our ancestors only granted when it was convenient for white folks in power.
That compromise lingers within the racist policies that we see today. And while we’re now looked upon as “whole” persons… the law clearly says otherwise.
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