This is the twelfth in a series of posts closely reading the Constitution of the United States for homeland security implications. Readers are encouraged to use the comment function to add background, analysis, exegesis or exposition related to the text reproduced immediately below.
Section. 2. (Third Paragraph follows)
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. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.
The number of Representatives elected from any state would be based on its population of free persons and temporarily indentured — male, female, and children — not including Indians. ”Other persons”, also known as slaves or chattel property, would be reflected at three-fifths their total number in deciding how many Representatives a state would be allotted.
The number of Representatives is also the major element in a state’s proportion in the Electoral College.
Until the Civil War the Three-Fifths clause significantly enhanced the influence of slave-holding states in the House of Representatives and in Presidential elections. If slaves had not been included in political enumeration the lower house would have been predominantly — and increasingly — anti-slavery in sentiment. Over the whole antebellum period the Three-Fifth’s clause gave slave-holding states about 20-to-25 percent more representation in the House than if only free people had been counted.
It has also been argued that from the end of Reconstruction until implementation of the 1964 Voting Rights Act the political agenda of the former slave-holding states was amplified by suppressing the vote of former slaves and their descendants, even as these citizens were now counted as “five-fifths” for Congressional and Electoral College purposes.
The clause in bold was altered by the Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868.
Homeland Security funds are often critiqued as being “unequally” distributed among the states. Strict equality among the states was rejected by the Philadelphia Convention and its Constitution. Rather than equality between states, the Constitution seeks a rough balancing of the whole people’s diverse interests.
The Articles of Confederacy began with:
Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled… The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever.
The states sent delegates to Philadelphia. The people of the United States made the Constitution. The Constitution set aside friendship among sovereign states for perpetual union emerging of popular sovereignty. A war between the states eventually proceeded to confirm what the people had wrought.
The people are sovereign. Thoughtfully — and thoughtlessly — we delegate, distribute, and redistribute our sovereignty among a variety of agents. Today this includes the Department of Homeland Security.