Tuesday, March 23, 2004

USVI: Defending the U.S. Constitution

I am tired of hearing black people say that the Constitution of the United States refers to black people as three-fifths human. It is not true and it is a terrible misrepresentation of the Constitution and of the people of African descent who were present in the country at the time.

Nowhere in the Constitution of the United States are blacks or negroes or colored people or any persons, called three-fifths or any fraction of a human. In Article I of the Constitution it is stated that for the apportioning of representatives and taxes, the number of persons attribute to each state "... shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons."

This means that the number of representatives in Congress that a slave holding state was allowed to have was less than it would have been if slaves were each counted as one. The three-fifths was therefore better for slaves than a one would have been because it gave slave owners less power in Congress.
That's an interesting interpretation. Read the rest of the piece. My take on the Constitution has always been that it is a shining city upon a hill. It is the ideal that may never be completely realized, not because America is racist, but because the nature of man is such that what men obtain will always be less than the Constitution promises. Given the way that Congress is mucking around with the document -- without benefit of any amendment (campaign finance reform, anyone?) -- the Constitution may soon present a very unattainable and distant ideal. Go here to read it. There's not another document like it on this God's earth. Make sure and check out the historical documents, particularly the Federalist papers, and the Bill of Rights.

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