US History 1301
April 18, 2013
The U.S. Constitution is primarily based on compromise between larger and smaller states, and more importantly, between northern and southern states. One major issue of the northern and southern states throughout American history is the topic of slavery. Although agreements such as the Three-Fifths Compromise in 1787, and the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 were adapted to reduce and outlaw slavery, it took many years for slavery to be completely abolished and allow blacks the freedom they had been longing for.
The Three-Fifths Compromise was a agreement reached at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia in which three-fifths of states’ slaves would be counted as representation regarding distribution of taxes and apportionment of members to the House of Representatives. This meant that slave owners would be taxed on the number of slaves they owned as well as states receiving representation for the allotted 3/5, or “Federal ratio,” of slaves owned. During the Continental Congress of 1783, a committee was appointed to decide upon a method to be integrated in the Articles of Confederation to prevent states from ignoring their fair share of the tax burden. The proposed fix was to tax based on population rather than property value. Delegates who opposed slavery only wanted to count all free inhabitants of each state, while supporters of slavery wanted to count all slaves for representation purposes only and not for taxation. Being that southern states were heavily populated with slaves, naturally, northern states feared that the south would gain a political upper-hand and become extremely powerful. Seeing such opposition from northern and southern states, representatives James Wilson and Roger Sherman came up with a plan that stemmed from the one proposed at the Continental Congress. The Three-Fifths Compromise, which was designed to meet the demands of both sides, gave the south their much anticipated representation, while easing the fears of the north of being politically overpowered by the south. After the Virginia Plan was rejected, the Three-Fifths Compromise seemed to guarantee more political power to the south. As a result, southern states dominated the Presidency and Speakership of the House. While the south gained more representation because of the higher ownership of slaves, the north gained very little. However, the longterm results of the Three-Fifths Compromise did not work well to the southern states’ advantage. The increased importation of slaves to the south upset the north leading to the Missouri Compromise. The Missouri Compromise prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the 36o 30’. By 1820, the northern states began to grow faster than southern states resulting in the fall from southern representation in the House of Representatives.
The Three-Fifths Compromise paved the way for the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 which outlaws slavery. However, the Thirteenth Amendment was meant to guarantee slavery. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued an Emancipation Proclamation declaring that any people held as slaves would be free. Many people questioned the validity of the Proclamation as well as President Lincoln’s power. Because President Lincoln failed to mention that slaves in the loyalist states would be free in the Proclamation, many doubted the effect would last beyond restoration of the states. Although the Emancipation Proclamation declared that slaves would be free, it did not actually free any slaves in border states nor did it abolish slavery. President Lincoln and other supporters decided it was necessary to include an amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery. The Thirteenth Amendment was the first amendment proposed in 60 years. The Thirteenth Amendment was the only slavery-related bill to oppose and abolish slavery while other bills protected...