“……. three fifths of all other Persons.”

I bought my first copy of The Constitution of the United States about 5 years ago. I figured that reading it might be a good way to find out what all the fuss was about.

I realize that making light reference to the Constitution with the word “fuss” sounds irreverent, but if you look “fuss” up, it seems appropriate.

I venture here to guess that less than 10% of U.S. citizens who refer to the Constitution’s content actually know what they’re talking about. Here’s how I get to the 10%

One survey in 2010 claimed that 28% had read it. We know that half of them are lying. Yes. That’s an assumption on my part, but probably true.

The other 14 % may have read it, probably in high school, and have most likely retained very little detail. 

So, that puts the percent of Americans who have actually read and retained content at somewhere around 7%.

Now, if you surveyed Americans asking, specifically, how slavery is addressed in the Constitution, good luck finding more than 1%.

Back to the “fuss”. 

In Article One, section two, the founding fathers, with 6 carefully chosen, simple words, “three fifths of all other Persons”, managed to camouflage the elephant (slavery, slaves) in the room for the next 77 years and avoid the use of the word “slavery”. I was impressed by the word craft when I first read it. We certainly didn’t want to say, “Okay, we agree to subsidize slavery by counting them in the census and thereby appropriating money based on the count and reducing your taxes by 40%”.

That would have sounded too blunt———- and accurate.

Of course, Article One, section 2, clause 3 was “Amended” in 1868.

Here’s what’s puzzling me—– Why, after 233 years, is that monumentally cruel and sneaky little phrase still in our Constitution?

2 thoughts on ““……. three fifths of all other Persons.”

Add yours

  1. I would guess that the wording is still in the Constitution because it cannot be literally removed? Just “amended”?


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