Constitutional compromises: The Three-Fifths Compromise | US government and civics | Khan Academy


– [Instructor] In the last video, we discussed one of the compromises made at the Constitutional Convention, the compromise of the electoral college. In this video, I want to discuss a different compromise. The compromise over slavery. Now, you’ll remember
that one of the issues that the electoral college
was trying to solve was the idea that perhaps the revolution and the concept of
democracy had gone too far in the United States and needed to be reined
in by the more elite class of American citizens who would be better able to
make political decisions. But the flip side of this was whether the revolution had perhaps not gone far enough. In that, it didn’t abolish
the institution of slavery. Now, the delegates at the
Constitutional Convention had sharply divided opinions over slavery. Those who came from southern states tended to be elite white men, who were themselves slave owners their own fortunes deeply tied into the institution of slavery. In the aftermath of the revolution, many northern states began to either outlaw or phase out slavery, recognizing that it was incompatible with the system of government defined around the concept that
all men are created equal. But if they were going to replace the articles of confederation, they were going to have
to find a way forward. And I would say overall, the
slaveowners got their way more than not. Now, one anti-slavery
aspect of the constitution was that it outlawed the
international slave trade, starting in 1808. So, here in article one, it states that the
migration or importation of such persons as any of
the states now existing shall think proper to admit shall not be prohibited by the congress prior to the year 1808, but a tax or duty may be
imposed on such importation not exceeding ten dollars for each person. So they say, we’ll give the
international slave trade 20 years and then we’ll get rid of it. And indeed, on January 1st, 1808, the international slave trade was outlawed in the United States. So, this middle passage
in which enslaved Africans were taken from west Africa and brought across the Atlantic, the end would never be
in the United States. But this doesn’t mean that
they outlawed slavery, and it doesn’t mean that they outlawed the domestic slave trade, the trade in slaves between
states or within states. In fact, up until about 1850, one of the largest slave
markets in the United States was just around the corner
from the White House and the US Capitol. So, imagine walking on the
streets of Washington DC and seeing these buildings where democratic ideals are enshrined and then going around the corner and seeing women and
children and men being sold and families being torn apart. It’s a very powerful image. But, although the framers did agree to phase out the
international slave trade, they made another compromise that was much more
favorable to slaveholders. The Three-Fifths Compromise. Now, you’ll remember that in deciding how the legislative branch
would represent the population, in the Great Compromise,
or Connecticut Compromise, they agreed that in the
House of Representatives, the proportion of representatives would be based on population, whereas in the Senate, every state would have two senators regardless of its size. Well, the big question for this is who counts as part of the population? Is it just white men? Or do the large enslaved populations of southern states also count? Now, if you were a southern slave holder, you would have been strongly in favor of counting this population, because it means you
get more representation, and thus more power in the
House of Representatives. If you were against slavery or from a small state, or both, you would’ve been bitterly
opposed to the notion that people who have no rights as citizens should be counted as
citizens to give those states more power in Congress. So, here’s what they decided, according to article one. Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned
among the several states which may be included within this union according to their respective numbers, which 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 three fifths of all other persons really means enslaved Africans. And you’ll notice that the framers are really talking around slavery. In the part about the
international slave trade, they said migration of such persons. Now they say three fifths
of all other persons. In fact, the word slavery never appears in the original constitution. So, why do they say three
fifths of all other persons or migration of such
persons as states think it proper to admit? And honestly, I think the answer to this is that the framers
were ashamed of slavery. They were ashamed that this institution existed in a democratic society. They knew that the eyes of the world, the eyes of history, would
look at this document and this institution completely sullied the idea
of a democratic government. So, as it says here, their agreement was that for
every five enslaved people who lived in a state, three of them would be counted for the purposes of population. This is a huge victory for slaveholders, getting more power in Congress for having people who can’t vote, who can’t be citizens. Why did the delegates of other states allow this to happen? And I think the simple answer is that the constitution would
not have been ratified were it not for this
compromise, among others. The states of the south were too important to getting that nine out
of 13 necessary votes to replace the articles of confederation with this new constitution. So, they made a compromise to make sure that the constitution was
ratified and improved. But that compromise would
have tremendous consequences for the generations of enslaved people who would live under that system. And for the nation when the
Civil War broke out in 1865.

9 thoughts on “Constitutional compromises: The Three-Fifths Compromise | US government and civics | Khan Academy”

  1. So, there was no European or Caucasian slaves? And how did ships travel three months from Africa with no fresh water?. And how come we have many museums around but theres isnt "one" slave ship in any museum? And you never mentioned that, a Democratic govt and or Democracy is never mentioned in the constitution. Im just sayin, this sounds like continued myths.

  2. Once again… Poor black people… I'm starting to think, They, as a race like to be pitty on…
    And they never mention how did the Europeans had them by the millions, can you imagine how would it be for an average European to go on a hunt in Africa!?… Big liberaltards never mention, that the African man would hunt African tribes to make a quick buck selling them to Europeans…

  3. There are a lot of just blatant assumptions made regarding the intent of the founders that are not at all supported by their own commentary or historical evidence. It appears to be an attempt to skew or undermine the motives of those working to rid America of slavery. The Three-Fifths Compromise was a political accomplishment which led to the eradication of slavery in the United States. It wasn't a failure or a set back… It was an obviously necessary and strategic step towards getting rid of slavery in the South. This presentation is extremely off base. Furthermore the founders created something other than a democracy because of the fact that a democracy is what has led to the significant issues Humanity has experienced such as slavery. They didn't oppose slavery because of how it would represent a democracy in the future, they didn't consider themselves a democracy. They opposed slavery IN SPITE of and in opposition to nearly every single democracy that had ever existed.

  4. Purchase a Blacks Law Dictionary 4th edition or older and look up the definition for person❤💙❤

  5. You reaching. Other persons doesnt mean all Africans though. The so called African Americans are the indians.

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