Neal Boortz: The whole truth about ‘three-fifths’

Then we had U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill., responding to the same question by saying: “I don’t care about the Constitution!” Joy Behar, who is rumored to have a television show, shrieked, “Don’t you think this Constitution-loving is getting out of hand?”

If you detest the Constitution, you’re not going to like it when it’s placed on display by your political foes.

The proverbial cake, however, goes to The New York Times. Somebody has to play the race card in this controversy, and the Times editors were all too happy to rise to the task. In an editorial in which the Times editors called the reading of the Constitution “presumptuous” and “self-righteous,” they added this: “Certainly the Republican leadership is not trying to suggest that African-Americans still be counted as three-fifths of a person.” The Times isn’t alone here. Even Fox News Channel reporters spoke of a “clause establishing slaves as three-fifths of a human being.”

They’re wrong.

Let’s bury this “three-fifths of a person” nonsense. The people who spout this idiocy are either lying or grossly ignorant. With the Times, I’ll take lying; with Fox News Channel, I’ll assume ignorance. Just how hard is it to read the Constitution to see what it really says? If that leaves you still confused, allow me to help you out here with a little history lesson about the Three-fifths Compromise reached at the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. You’ll see that there is no evidence to support oft-repeated claims by so many liberals and race pimps that the Constitution is racist.

In 1787, delegates from 13 colonies were meeting in Philadelphia trying to hammer out a document to form a new union — The United States of America. Different colonies, though, had different goals. The Northern colonies were determined to end slavery. Southern colonies felt slavery was necessary for their economic survival. The issue came to a head during discussions on how the populations of the various states would be counted to determine representation in the newly formed House of Representatives. Convention delegates opposed to slavery (generally from the North) wanted to count only the free inhabitants of each state. Southern delegates wanted every slave counted. Why? Because the higher population numbers would give them more members in the House.

A compromise was reached. For the purpose of congressional apportionment, Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the new Constitution provided that the state populations would be determined by the number of free persons in each state and adding “three fifths of all other persons.” In other words, for every 100 slaves in the state, 60 people would be added to its population count. Indentured slaves were counted as free persons and “Indians not taxed” were left out of the tally entirely. There was NO mention of race and NO suggestion that anyone counted as three-fifths of a human being. There were, by the way, black slave owners who were counted and white slaves who were not. But let’s not cause too much stress for delicate minds.

It really is a shame when some little ol’ country lawyer talk show host in Atlanta has a better grasp of history and our Constitution than the grand exalted editors of The New York Times, not to mention the news writers at the Fox News Channel. Interesting how that happens, isn’t it?

Listen to Neal Boortz live from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on AM 750 and now 95.5FM News/Talk WSB.

His column appears every Saturday. For more Boortz, go to

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