Re: counting humans in the US Constitution
Wed, 11 Mar 1998 07:43:20 -0800 (PST)

Anton Sherwood [] wrote:
>What else can we infer from a contrast between "free Persons" and "other

We can infer that "other persons" is a generic term and doesn't apply
exclusively to slaves (it clearly, for example, includes Indians who
aren't taxed). If they meant 'only count slaves as 3/5 of a person,
but count everyone else' they would have said so. Slaves are clearly
counted as "other people", but so, for example, are untaxed Indians.

The real question is, what did they mean by "free persons"? Once we
know that we can work out who the "other persons" are.

>Not exactly. Remember, not all free Persons were voters -- indeed there
>are still at least two classes of free nonvoters: minors and resident
>aliens. Even "illegal aliens" are counted (I believe this was decided
>in a suit over the census of 1980).

But what some suit in 1980 said is irrelevant; the question is what they
meant at the time they wrote the Constitution, since the founders are the
ones who supposedly regarded slaves as 'subhuman'. The plain fact remains
that the 3/5 rule made perfect sense at the time, but is today being used
by authoritarians to denigrate them.