The Constitution Did Not Condone Slavery
Then, there’s the Post’s ritual repeating of the falsehood that the Founders viewed black people as “three fifths of a person.” That is a wholly tendentious misreading of the Three-Fifths Clause. Don Fehrenbacher is a leading authority on this. In his penetrating study, The Slaveholding Republic, he writes: “[The] fraction ‘three-fifths’ had no racial meaning. It did not represent a perception of blacks as three-fifths human…” It was a compromise on methods of levying taxes and apportioning representation in Congress.
Further, the Three-Fifths Compromise reduced the power in Congress of slaveholding states while giving an electoral bonus to any state that voluntarily emancipated its slaves. When seven of the original thirteen states abolished slavery, they were allowed to count free black people in the census for purposes of representation in Congress.
It is especially galling to have liberals attack Republican Members on these matters. They forget that it was Republicans who gave us the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments—those great guarantees of civil rights. Every vote cast against those amendments was cast by a Democrat. It was Republicans who passed the first anti-lynching bill in the House—in 1922. Those bills were routinely killed by Senate Democrats until 1957.