The “Three-Fifths Clause” Helped End Slavery In America

“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.”

–Three-fifths Clause: ARTICLE I, SECTION 2, CLAUSE 3 of the Constitution of the United States of America.

By: Pastor Greg Miller

The Enumeration Clause
The Enumeration Clause is also referred to as the “Three-Fifths Clause” in the U.S. Constitution.  And it is a glaring example of the CULTURE OF LIES that exists in America, today.  A culture that completely misrepresents history, re-defines terms and flat out LIES in order to teach what they WANT to be true instead of actually teaching the truth as it stands.Have you been told that the “Three-Fifths Clause,” or the “Enumeration Clause,” as it is also known, was adopted because slaves were considered less-than-human?  If so, you were LIED to.  And most Americans persist in believing this lie.

Another distortion is to claim that this three-fifths clause GAVE slave states additional representation.  And such a claim is LUDICROUS.  The slave states came to the table demanding ALL slaves be FULLY counted as part of the state population.¹

The FACT is, the Three-Fifths Clause played an important role in ENDING SLAVERY in America.  Here is the true story… ²

Why Did The Founders Adopt The Three-Fifths Clause”?
During the Constitutional Convention, the anti-slavery state representatives became fully aware of the fact that whenever anything decided was proportioned according to population, the slave states would have a great advantage IF every slave was counted as part of that state’s population.

For example, while each state is allowed to send two Senators to that chamber the House of Representatives is proportioned according to the state population.  If slaves were counted fully and added to the population totals, then states like Virginia (whose population was nearly 40% SLAVES) would have additional congressman.  This would give the southern states a great advantage with dozens of additional votes in Congress.

For that reason, after contentious debate and disagreement, the representatives of the Constitutional Convention reached a compromise: Slaves would only count as three-fifth a person for population totalling purposes ONLY.

What Was The Result of The Three-Fifths Clause?
The result was immediately dramatic.  The slave population of America only accounted for 525,000 instead of 700,000.  The number of Congressmen from slave states was considerably smaller, especially when many bills were decided over a single vote!

The three-fifths clause was a substantial BLOW against slavery in America.  That is a FACT.

IF the Constitutional Convention had counted each slave fully as part of the state population, American history would have been MUCH different and slavery would not have ended anywhere NEAR the mid-19th century.  Between 1787 and the terrible “Civil War”, this Constitutional compromise favored emancipation of slavery by:

  • Resulting in laws that were anti-slavery, pro-abolitionist in nature.
  • The appointment of more anti-slavery judges.
  • Even the election of Congressmen was titled a bit more “anti-slavery” by this very clause.

It is simply a fact: the three-fifths clause was a GREAT move toward the end of Slavery in America.³  And every time you see someone mockingly denounce the founders for this “Enumeration Clause” that only counted slaves as three-fifths, especially whenever they pretend this was because slaves were seen as “less than human”?  You know you’re either dealing with an ignoramus or a liar.

Always Verify
That is the bottom line.  In this day of lies and distortion, Bible believing Christians simply cannot afford to assume that we are being told the truth.  We cannot afford to be LAZY.  We must TEST everything by the word of God (Acts 17:11) and try the spirits (1 John 4:1).  We must do our own research and VERIFY the claims made by textbooks, teachers, documentaries, news reporters, journalists, preachers, movies…

For More Information:

  1. Here is an example of someone making this completely fabricated claim:  “Three-Fifths Clause: Why Its Taint Persists,” Paul Finkelman (2/26/13).  (An example of how liberals call good, “evil” and evil “good”, see Isaiah 5:20).
  2. Compare Finkelman’s article to this article written by one of America’s great black authors, Walter E. Williams, “Was A Black Valued At 3/5th of A White?”
  3. Don’t Denounce the Founders Over Slavery,” By Walter E. Williams (June 28, 2011)

See also: “Constitutional Topic: Slavery,”   @