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‘The Three-Fifths Rule’
A Lie We Were Taught in School

Italics and brackets in quoted passages have been placed there for emphasis by this writer.

I was taught by no less than three school teachers that the well-meaning but misguided founders of this nation regarded a black man as equal to three-fifths of a white man based on the principle known as “The Three-fifths Rule.”

Do yourself a favor and ask a black American to define the three-fifths rule. This perceived rule was treated as evidence for the foundational racial prejudice of American society, when I was taught in 1970s classrooms. More importantly, despite no mention of race in the founding document, this rule has been used to support the belief—for it is accepted beyond all argument—that slavery in the United States and the colonies from which they sprang was founded on the twin doctrines of white racial superiority and black racial inferiority, slavery being an exclusive condition of people of African origin.

Of course, reading the actual founding documents tells a different tale. In fact, in the 1935 Unit History of the United States, the authors clearly state:

“Without much difficulty it was agreed to adopt a principle called the ‘Federal ratio,’ embodied in a revenue amendment to the Articles in 1783. This was that ‘three-fifths of all other persons’ should be added to the number of free persons in determining the population of the state for purposes of representation.”

On reading the original document we discover that there is no racial connotation, but that the false modern notion is based on the following clear statement:

“…adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service [unfree] for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed [a separate people], three fifths of all other persons.”

It is clear from this document that whether a person is free [and thus a taxable state asset, rather than a usable private asset] or not is the primary determinant, with race only mentioned in the case of Indians, who may be residents belonging to a separate tribal polity. Indeed, at this very time, according to the census completed in 1789 and the assertion as to unfree population rates among whites in Pennsylvania, by Benjamin Franklin, while, of the some 3 million people in the United States there may have been 5-600,000 unfree Negroes, there were, in the state of Pennsylvania alone, 200,000 unfree whites. The state of Pennsylvania had between 400,000 and 440,000 people in all between 1776-1790.

In terms of the basis for servile status as an inferior human, the three-fifths rule has no bearing at all on the system of American plantation economics, being in actuality a late contrivance of a political kind to maintain plantation economics in the face of a growing free economy.

Such are the gossamer ties that bind the sleeping minds beneath the Beautiful Lie.

Under the God of Things

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WellRead EdJanuary 18, 2017 10:54 PM UTC

It is astonishing the things we were 'taught' under the guise of education. Even a cursory examination of American History reveals that the 3/5ths rule was a way to prevent the pro-slavery element in Colonial America from solidifying slavery into the fabric of our nation forever.

But, try to point this out to allegedly educated Dindus and they scream lime Banshees on Halloween, for their ability to think beyond their innate hatred of everything Caucasian prevents them from objective reasoning.
responds:January 19, 2017 8:39 AM UTC

This is one of those head hitting the wall subjects.

I have generally thought that blacks were ill-served by American schools as a matter of circumstance: white flight, black violence driving out teachers, corrupt city governments, etc.

I am inclined to think it is by design at this point. If you begin with an intellectually challenged student body, it doesn't take much to dull those brains beyond repair and point them in the wrong direction.