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"For Constitution Day, Let's Toast the Losers of the" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP24 Nov 2021 3:41 p.m. PST


"The earliest critics of the U.S. Constitution struggled against aspects of a document with many avoidable flaws, mistakes that haunt us to the present day. Go back to that hot room in the summer of 1787. How many of us would endorse the Electoral College? The three-fifths clause? The fugitive slave clause? The continuation of the African slave trade for 20 years? An Executive elected with no term limits? A ban on paper money? Vast Presidential pardon powers? An ineffective and nearly impossible to complete impeachment process?

In this era of highly charged debates over how we study American history, I suggest we mark Constitution Day not by bowing at the feet of Madison, Hamilton, and Washington, but by remembering those who lost. Several skeptical delegates left Philadelphia earlier than the September 17, 1787 signing day. One was Luther Martin of Maryland.

Martin was a difficult man. Imagine a cross between Ralph Nader, George Wallace, and Hunter Thompson. Catherine Drinker Bowen labeled him the "wild man of the convention." We created the four-part documentary series, Confounding Father: A Contrarian View of the U.S. Constitution because this fascinating man was, in the words of eminent revolutionary era historian Gordon Wood, "full of predictions and most of them came true…" We would all have been better served if Martin and other gadflies like Yates and Lansing of New York had stayed until the end of the convention, as much was decided without them…"
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Robert Burke24 Nov 2021 7:11 p.m. PST

I wonder how many people today realize that the 3/5ths clause was actually an anti-slavery clause?

Personal logo Dan Cyr Supporting Member of TMP24 Nov 2021 7:44 p.m. PST

I know I shouldn't, but please explain how the 3/5 clause, giving slave owners (their states) "voters" that could not vote, was a anti-slavery clause.

Personal logo Cardinal Ximenez Supporting Member of TMP24 Nov 2021 7:51 p.m. PST

The 3/5 compromise limited the number of Southern state seats in the House of Representatives.

Personal logo Cardinal Ximenez Supporting Member of TMP24 Nov 2021 8:25 p.m. PST

The 3/5 Compromise explained by Dr. Carol Swain. link

HMS Exeter24 Nov 2021 8:49 p.m. PST


Please point me in the direction of some scholarly analysis supporting that proposition.

I'm going to have a difficult time understanding how my state getting additional House representation based on the number of snow blowers Marylanders have is supposed to discourage snow blower ownership.



Ah, looks like you read my mind…

HMS Exeter24 Nov 2021 8:56 p.m. PST

And do let's commend the framers on their decision to employ Latin gramma,r in a document drafted in English, in their composition of the 2nd Amendment. That hasn't caused any problems.

Full disclosure, despite being a moderate, I am decidedly hawkish on the 2nd Amendment. But, to paraphrase Larry the Cable Guy…

"That rat there is clear as mud, I dont care who you are…"

HMS Exeter24 Nov 2021 11:13 p.m. PST

Let's try to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Per the Constitution.

Free Persons – individuals, predominantly white, who enjoy the full rights and privileges of citizens.

Other Persons – individuals, predominantly black, who do not. Dr Swain makes much of the fact the text of the Constitution refers to "other persons" as "persons" nonetheless.

Slaves are "other persons."

Slaves are persons who enjoy no liberties, no individual rights, no expectation of a family existence free from the control of others, no standing before the law, except insofar as they are defined as property, and no right to vote. Slaves are human beings who enjoy virtually no semblance of personhood.

Free Persons are those invested with the right to own other persons.

Human beings being the sum set of free persons, other persons and Indians.

The Slave South wanted "other persons" counted 1:1 for calculating House representation. In truth,they might as well have insisted that the counting include fireplaces. If a person can be property, cannot property be a person?

The north could see no more logic in slave counting then, than be comprehended now. They insisted on no counting of slaves for House apportionment.

But the South threatened to refuse to ratify any Constitution that did not afford them the ability to inflate their representation in the House by counting their slaves. Aah, the tyranny of the minority.

Dr. Swain would have us believe that the 3/5 compromise was imposed by the north to suppress southern representation in the House. This is factually correct, if viewed thru the right vision tunnel.

The South wished to pad its' House representation by counting their slaves as persons, despite operating a system that deprived those individuals of any vestige of personhood.

So instead of decrying the outrage of the South, trying to count slaves as human beings for this narrow, craven, self serving, purpose at all, Dr Swain would condemn the north's insistence on a cap as trying to suppress legitimate southern House representation. It's amazing she didn't turn into a pretzel.

To be sure, the compromise was a necessary evil to insure the unification of the country. But please, do not try to invert the obscenity of the South inflating its' power in the House by tallying its' property, into Northern tyranny for trying to oppose it.

Dr. Swain references a Dr. Wagner as the author of a letter in which Dr. Wagner praised the 3/5 compromise as an example of difficult pragmatic governance in pursuit of a higher purpose. Dr. Swain notes how Wagner was heavily criticized for what was deemed a misguided and insensitive position. It is worth noting that Dr Wagner ultimately issued an apology for his letter.

Personal logo Cardinal Ximenez Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2021 3:53 a.m. PST

I didn't need a recap but thanks anyway. It's a free country. Believe whatever you think to be correct.

Personal logo Cardinal Ximenez Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2021 4:01 a.m. PST

It must be horrible to live in the United States, a country so rotten to it's core. What an absolutely miserable existence. 🙄

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2021 6:43 a.m. PST

As usual nobody is saying that it's a terrible country. This is not an answer that works for me when we try to come to terms with our faults. History does not stand still, we make it every day and we avoid working together at our peril . Blamer culture is a media game, it slows progress and will destroy us in the end.

If I say to you that as I moderate I support the original second amendment but not assault weapons you may disagree, but my guess is that I love my country as much as you do. I do not need to join some sort of separate "Media Nation" and be recognized as an Exclusive Patriot to prove this.

TMP continues to be a place where slavery and race are discussed in the light of history, and I think that it is a good thing. It is relevant to many of the conflicts we game. It is sometimes in the back of my mind when I game the ACW. But this in the context of the trials that the boys on both sides endured on the battlefield. My favorite commander is Lincoln, flawed but essential to the survival of the United States. The man who told us to "think anew"

Bill N25 Nov 2021 6:50 a.m. PST

The 3/5ths clause is one of those things the appearance of which changed significantly with later events.

When the AWI broke out the population of the rebelling colonies consisted of free whites and blacks, indentured servants and slaves. At the time of the 1787 Constitution convention the list of those not entitled to vote consisted of slaves, indians, free blacks in most states, women in most states, and poor men, plus minors who still cannot vote today. Slavery in 1787 was still legal in New York, New Jersey, Delaware and the states south of the Mason-Dixon line, and also to a limited degree in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Universal white male suffrage was a generation in the future, and women and blacks voting had to wait longer.

In 1787 it was primarily about political power, about the obligation of the states to contribute to the national government, and about the need to get enough states to sign on at a time when the ratification of the Constitution was not a given.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2021 2:17 p.m. PST



Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2021 10:58 p.m. PST

As Bill N noted above, since only white male land owners could vote, was it reasonable to count women, children, poor whites, etc.? If so, was it reasonable to count slaves? As such I would say the 3/5 comprimse did limit the power of slave states.

" It is worth noting that Dr Wagner ultimately issued an apology for his letter."

It's also worth noting that in today's academic environment, not issuing an apology for something that's not popular in certain circles can end your career.

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