Founders / Framers Minute:
Article I, Section 2, Clause 3a
by Cornel Rasor
“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.”
There are two issues here. Representation and taxation. Initially, set at one representative per 30,000, representation changed later by statutes, not amendment in 1911 and 1929 to the set number of 435. Frankly, this should still be the standard as it has not been properly changed.
This section dealt with free citizens, indentured servants, Indians and slaves. The first two were fully counted acknowledging full rights as citizens but were not to be counted as property. Indians, a sovereign nation were exempt from both representation and taxation. Slaves, sadly counted by law as both men and property had to be counted in such a way as to not create over-representation nor over-taxation for the slave states. The so-called 3/5th Compromise did not count each slave as 3/5thof a person. It allowed the slave owners to only count 3/5th of their slave population for purpose of representation. By limiting the representative power of the slave owners, the framers knew that the end of the “infernal practice” would be possible. Madison explains this in Federalist 54. In creating this clause the framers were faced with balancing the competing interests of representation vs. taxation:
“In one respect the establishment of a common measure for representation and taxation will have a very salutary effect. As the accuracy of the census to be obtained by the Congress, will necessarily depend in a considerable degree on the disposition, if not the cooperation of the States, it is of great importance that the States should feel as little bias as possible to swell or to reduce the amount of their numbers. Were their share of representation alone to be governed by this rule they would have an interest in exaggerating their inhabitants. Were the rule to decide their share of taxation alone, a contrary temptation would prevail. By extending the rule to both objects, the States will have opposite interests, which will controul and ballance each other; and produce the requisite impartiality.” Federalist 54
Thus, the framers dealt with the horrid issue of treating slaves as men and property and by this and another clause, Art 1. Sec 9 Cl 1 ensured that the practice would die out.
The second issue, that of taxation will be dealt with in the next Founders/Framers Minute.
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