The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, September 16, 2020 1:00 am


Three-fifths compromise preserved fragile union

Emily Mossoian's first point in her Sept. 1 letter is a reference to Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution, in which slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person. This was not, as is commonly misbelieved, because slaves were considered to be less equal human beings (in spite of their being treated as such), but because delegates to the Constitutional Convention were trying to reach a compromise regarding representation in Congress. The purpose of Article 1, Section 2 is to determine how many seats in the House will be allocated to each state and how direct taxes are to be apportioned among the states. This determination was to be accomplished (and still is) by conducting a census every 10 years.

Delegates from northern states, some of whom were abolitionists, didn't want to count slaves, but the convention was at an impasse on the matter and many delegates were afraid the frail union of states would fall apart. To avoid a failure to agree on the point, a compromise was agreed to: 100 slaves would be counted as 60 people for the purpose of determining population. In spite of the three-fifths compromise, there were so many slaves in slaveholding states that during the entire period before the Civil War, slaveholding states had disproportionate influence on the presidency, the speakership of the House and the Supreme Court.

The three-fifths clause remained in force until the post-Civil War 13th Amendment (1865) freed all enslaved people, the 14th Amendment (1868) gave them full citizenship and the 15th Amendment (1870) granted black men the right to vote.

Edward Paragi

New Haven

Word of God going partially untaught

Believers in Jesus Christ should be less concerned about the platform of a politician and be more concerned about the lack of the word of God coming from America's church pulpits. Church leaders are to be the watchmen and caretakers of their congregations, teaching the true and whole word of God.

Richard Burridge

Fort Wayne

Which United States will we support?

A prominent U.S. historian wrote a remarkably prescient biography of a one-term American president: “A man could get along with [the president] if he observed a few simple rules: Do not question him unless he invited criticism. Do not challenge him. ... Do not assail his friends or cronies. Have nothing to do with the press. ... Avoid politicians, especially those in the growing anti-[presidsent] camp. Most of all, remain loyal.” William C. Davis wrote these words in his 1991 biography of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America.

On June 10, Republican political operative Steve Schmidt commented that Trump, in his fervent embrace of white supremacy, bases named after mostly failed Confederate generals and Jim Crow-era monuments and statuary to racism was, indeed, the second president of the Confederacy. At any future press conferences, meetings or rallies, Trump should not stand in front of the Stars and Stripes; he should have a panoply of the Confederate national flags – the “Stainless Banner”; the “White Man's Flag”; the “Blood-Stained Banner” – because this is the “America” Trump represents. Like politicians and soldiers in 1860 and 1861, Trump, and his slavish supporters in Congress, have betrayed their oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Hoosiers in the 3rd Congressional District have a choice in the upcoming election: Do they vote again to keep Indiana as a “star” in Trump's confederacy or do they wish to become again the 19th star in the Stars and Stripes of the United States of America?

Emory Earl Toops

Fort Wayne

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