Three-Fifths of a Lie – Kate Paulk

*I want to thank everyone who pitches in with guest posts, so that I can finish this book, particularly younger son and right-hand-wench Kate Paulk.*

Three-Fifths of a Lie – Kate Paulk

We’ve all heard the people who wrote the Constitution of the United States dismissed with a flip comment about how much modern people can trust someone who thought blacks were worth three-fifths of a person. Seeing and hearing comments like that from people who damn well ought to know better, people who should have some grounding in what the Constitution means and the context (you know, historians, lawyers… people who have supposedly studied this stuff) really gets my back up because the truth is so freaking obvious and it’s all there. It’s not like anyone’s tried to cover this up.

Way back in the ancient history (well, not quite) that was the late 1700s, some of the states coming into the fledgling United States of America had legal slavery, both the indentured and chattel variety. Some did not. The people writing the Constitution included representatives from slave states and free states. All of them wanted to make sure their states had reasonable representation in the new government.

And they argued. They argued over everything. I’m sure there were duels almost fought over the placement of every dot on every i. Some of those arguments make no sense to us now, while others still resonate – and one of the biggest sources of contention was in how the states were to be represented in the new government.

A simple representative system wouldn’t work: the states with the biggest cities and highest populations would completely overwhelm the voices of the smaller and/or less populated states. Think New York City telling Alaskans (rural or urban) what was a reasonable amount of heating to use (only then it was more NYC telling the ass end of PA or telling NH what they should be doing). At the same time, allocating each state the same proportion of representation would allow the small, rural, thinly populated states to dictate terms to the big urban states.

They weren’t going to get agreement with either option – and they knew if they couldn’t come to some kind of agreement, there wouldn’t be a United States.

For the legislative branch, obviously, they went with the lower house being the purely population based one, and the upper having equal representation per state.

For the Presidency (and back then, the Vice President’s office as well), what ultimately emerged was something I grew up with in Australia: to win, the President needs to win a majority of votes in a majority of states – it’s not phrased quite that way, but that’s how the Electoral College works out, made a little less obvious by the way each state has its allocation set according to the state population. The basic idea to ensure that anyone elected to the Presidency had a reasonably broad appeal.

Which led to a rather thorny problem and what I’ve been known to euphemistically describe as animated discussion.

To determine how many Electoral College votes each state could cast, a census was going to be used. But in the slave states, there were more slaves than free Americans, and while free men could potentially become voters, that wasn’t going to happen for slaves. This meant that if every person was counted, the slave states would have a disproportionate influence over the nation.

But, if the census only counted free people, the slave states would walk away from the union, something all the delegates at that first Constitutional Convention knew couldn’t be allowed to happen, no matter how distasteful the compromises they’d need would be. If the slave states walked, the free states wouldn’t be strong enough to protect themselves against the British Empire (and neither would the slave states).

What to do? If the delegates had gone with the more enlightened modern perspective certain people on the Intertubes seem to think they should have taken and counted everyone, the slave states would have dominated Congress, the Senate, and the Presidency. It’s likely that slavery wouldn’t have gone away until mechanical cotton harvesting became a thing – and became cheaper than housing and feeding slaves.

If they’d refused to count slaves towards how many electoral districts and how many Electoral College votes the slave states had, the union would have failed.

Instead, they went for the three-fifths compromise: for the purposes of determining how many Electoral College votes and how many electoral districts a state had, slaves would count as three-fifths of a free person.

This wasn’t an anti-black measure. There were free blacks and white slaves. It was an anti-slavery measure that worked to keep the slave states from leaving and to ensure that, per person, free states had a higher representation than slave states.

Claiming that the three-fifths compromise was because the delegates didn’t see slaves as people is at least three-fifths of a lie – and, like the curate’s egg, that makes it wholly deceptive.

314 thoughts on “Three-Fifths of a Lie – Kate Paulk

  1. Very minor disagreement.

    When the Constitution was written, the “only tax” the Federal Government could “lay upon” the States was a “Head Tax” (never actually used BTW).

    The Slave States want to use the number of Slaves to determine how many Representatives they got in the House but didn’t want to use the number of Slaves to determine the amount they’d pay to the Federal Government.

    IE they wanted their Slaves to increase their “Power” in the House but didn’t want their Slaves to increase their payments to the Federal Government.

    But as you said, it had nothing to do with the “worth” of Blacks compared to Whites.

    Of course, what’s “funny” is that the non-Slave States with the need for immigration for their industries quickly out-numbered the Slave States in the House.

    Many of the Great Compromises pre-ACW regarded preventing the non-Slave States from out-numbering the Slave States in the Senate.

  2. James Madison’s notes on the constitutional convention make it clear that the Founders weren’t blithely indifferent to the issue of slavery, but agonized over it, and looked for ways to phase it out. There was a proposal to prohibit the admission of any new states that practiced slavery; there was a proposal to shut down the slave trade immediately (Madison said in debate that if it continued for another generation the United States was doomed, and he came very close to being right). My recollection is that the proposal to do away with slavery entirely came up, and two states—South Carolina and Georgia—threatened to walk (apparently North Carolina and Virginia didn’t; James Madison and George Mason, both opponents of slavery, were Virginians). I’ve wondered since reading that if the eleven other states could have formed a strong enough union, or if the two holdouts might have backed down. But they weren’t prepared to risk it.

    A lot of the difference, I think, is that the Founders didn’t morally condemn anyone who disagreed with them as irredeemably evil; that mindset is alien to a lot of people now.

    1. And of course they hadn’t been indoctrinated that the United States was the source of slavery, either.

          1. There is what they do not know, and there is what they do know that simply is not so. I think we’re probably talking about negative 80% of them, optimistically.

            If some of them not only do not know the truth, “know” multiple contradictory lies as true it might be possible to exceed -100%.

        1. documentation please.

          It wouldn’t surprise me, I just hadn’t heard this before.

          At the time black was far less significant. Not because people were more tolerant of others, but because if you had referred to someone as “white” you would have been laughed at, there was English vs Irish vs Scottish vs French …..

          and even this is painting things with a broad brush. It really was me against my brother, me and by brother against my cousin, me my brother and my cousin against my neighbor, all of the above against the next town….

          And if people think that the western world was bad, look at some of the eastern countries where the very language reflects how partitioned things were, different words to say the same thing depending on the relative status of the two parties in the conversation, the many_many different words to specify the exact relationship, etc.

          1. Didn’t it have to do with a black craftsman suing to keep one of his indentured slaves past the period of indenture?

            I don’t remember names, unfortunately, and I don’t care enough to look it up, but I want to say it happened in Pennsylvania. Or maybe Maryland.


            John Casor (surname also recorded as Cazara and Corsala),[1] a servant in Northampton County in the Virginia Colony, in 1655 became the first person of African descent in England’s Thirteen Colonies to be declared as a slave for life as the result of a civil suit.[2][3] In an earlier case, John Punch was the first man documented as a slave in the Virginia Colony, sentenced to life in servitude for attempting to escape his indenture.[4]

            In one of the earliest freedom suits, Casor argued that he was an indentured servant who had been forced by Anthony Johnson, a free black, to serve past his term; he was freed and went to work for Robert Parker as an indentured servant. Johnson sued Parker for Casor’s services. In ordering Casor returned to his master, Johnson, for life, the court both declared Casor a slave and sustained the right of free blacks to own slaves.

            In sustaining the claim of Johnson to the perpetual service of Casor, the court also gave judicial sanction to the right of free Negroes to own slaves of their own race. In a 1916 article, John H. Russell wrote “Indeed no earlier record, to our knowledge, has been found of judicial support given to slavery in Virginia except as a punishment for a crime.”[12] Russell makes this distinction because in 1640 John Punch “was reduced from his former condition of servitude for a limited time to a condition of slavery for life.”[4] In 1670 the colonial assembly passed a law prohibiting free and baptized negroes and Indians from purchasing Christians (in this act meaning English or European whites) but allowing them to buy persons “of their owne nation.” In this meaning, “purchase” also related to buying the contract services of indentured servants of various “nations”.[12]

            In 1665 Anthony Johnson and his wife Mary, his son John and his wife Susanna, and their slave John Casor moved to Somerset County, Maryland. Casor remained Johnson’s slave for the rest of his life.[1]

            Prior to that indentured servitude seems to have been the standard, and

            After working out their contracts for passage money to Virginia and completing their indenture, each was granted 50 acres (20 ha) of land (headrights). This enabled them to raise their own tobacco or other crops.

            Notably, the difference between the indentured servant and a slave is that the right sold was not the person in the case of the former, but the right to their time of labor (the thing sold was the contract of indenture) and indentured servants were guaranteed freedom after their term of service was over. In the latter, the person is the ‘owned thing.’

            There is an attempt to try conflate indentured servitude as no different from slavery (notably, places that consider themselves ‘fact checking’ sites) but they are in fact quite different, as there is an expectation of being released from the contract. The ‘smudge’ people would argue, is that the contract of indenture could be sold from person to person, and the person who owes the labor is obligated to serve someone else. But it is this ability to sell the contract that allowed many poorer migrants the ability to buy passage to America, and the selling of their contract to someone who needed laborers is what allowed them to work off what would have been the cost of the passage.

            It was not perfect (there are of course, abuses) but it did allow for mobility.

            1. A very large percentage of my ancestors who arrived in colonial times arrived as indentured servants. A lesser number arrived as criminals sentenced to deportation. And some arrived as colonial overseers. I suspect indentured servants who didn’t develop skills during their indenture don’t have a lot of descendants.

              1. I don’t think a lot of people who criticize the era also realize that there were a number of obligations expected from the ‘master’ in indentured servitude. Proper training, housing, and provisioning (which includes food, clothes, etc) was some of these. (Of course, there were people who abuse that, but by large since the master’s own success and return of investment was dependent on healthy servants…)

                1. As even the poorest amongst us today have closets full of clothes, I recall one of those contracts. The master supplied the servant with 1 (one) new set of clothes each year. One. Per year.

                  1. These rules were developed prior to the industrial revolution. During the 1770s for a woman to purchase enough cloth to make a simple gown took about an average month’s wages.

                    1. As late as the 1890s, some farm families could find that most of the cash money they might end up with in a year was from non-farm specific work, and this from mostly women’s work.

                      There were business representatives who would contract out weaving work, where they might sell/rent/loan a loom and related materials, and would pay out cash when they collected woven goods at the end of the term, usually after winter. (This would be for things like rugs, blankets, towels, tablecloths and so on, not bulk woven fabric, or clothing made from bulk fabric.)

                      Don’t recall when it ended, but I think it was pretty much gone by the beginning of the Depression.

          3. Just in case – I was also surprised to learn this around my college-era discussions with folks. Prior to that, the only slaves were:

            In 1641, Massachusetts became the first colony to authorize slavery through enacted law.[10] Massachusetts passed the Body of Liberties, which prohibited slavery in many instances, but did allow for three legal bases of slavery.[10] Slaves could be held if they were captives of war, if they sold themselves into slavery or were purchased from elsewhere, or if they were sentenced to slavery as punishment by the governing authority.[10] The Body of Liberties used the word “strangers” to refer to people bought and sold as slaves; they were generally not English subjects.

            Which, considering the times and the era, rather reasonable exceptions. (And no, to the idiots, this is not acceptable today.)

            1. That’s not actually particularly surprising. Those are the criteria provided in the Old Testament. Given the Puritans’ interest in creating a New Israel, that kind of makes sense.

    2. James Madison’s notes are a great document; anyone interested in the Constitution should read it cover to cover ( has a copy). It’s pretty dry but there’s a lot in it. (Read for example the amazing proposal from Hamilton; you’ll never think of him as a good guy again.)
      The other good thing to read is Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence. Compared to what was finally agreed to, there are a number of small differences. But there’s also a large one: an explicit denunciation of slavery was in the draft, but (presumably for the same reason Kate discusses) was taken out in committee.

      1. People tend to forget that a big part of why the USA won independence was that Britain was also fighting in Europe – at least three other wars in the same time-frame, all of them much closer to home and posing much more of a risk to the British Empire’s interests than the American Revolution (they also forget or never knew that many of the European powers used the American Revolution for a bit of proxy war figuring that if they won, they’d gain favorable terms with the new nation, and if they lost, well they’d only sent a token force and it would help weaken the British. Win-win, really).

        The founders knew this. They knew they needed to be able to present a strong front to the rest of the world, no matter what kind of devil’s bargain they had to make to do it.

        1. Another thing most people don’t know: the terms of U.S. independence were settled by late 1782. The war went on another year because the U.S., France, and Spain had agreed on no separate peace treaties. So we spent an extra year theoretically at war with Britain because the Continental allies hadn’t yet made peace.

          1. Exactly – and we did *not* want to have any obvious weaknesses that Britain could exploit.

        2. Reading the Federalist Papers was interesting concerning that.

          The writers of the Federalist Papers were concerned that if the States divided into two or more separate nations, European countries would use the divisions to get involved in North American affairs.

          They knew how lucky the American States was to win independency and were concerned that if they weren’t united, they could become pawns in Europe’s wars.

          Much later, George Washington’s comment about “foreign entanglements” related to the fear that the US might become a pawn in Europe’s wars.

          Many modern Americans don’t realize that in many ways, the US was “third-rate” at that time compared to the power-houses of France & Britain.

          1. Oh, yeah. Back then France and Britain were the super-powers. The US was basically the third-world backwater that was making a nuisance of itself.

            1. Yeah, the cursory research from ‘Napoleanic Macross’ really hammer that home to me.

        3. Most people, asked who won the victory at Yorktown, would reply, “Washington and the Americans” (well, most people in these degenerate days would say “Yorkwho?” and ask about the point spread.)

          The reality is that it was a French fleet which prevented Cornwallis’ resupply and won the victory.

          1. *sings* At Yorktown the British could not retreat/ Bottled up by Washington and the French Fleet/ Cornwallace(?) surrendered, and finally they had won! (HURRAY!)/ And the shout(?) heard round the world/ was the end of the revolution

            All ? are because I’m going from memory of schoolhouse rock, which it’s been at least several months since I saw the DVD, much less heard that song.

              1. Yes there is…
                Get the Schoolhouse Rock! 30th Anniversary Edition for all the songs you remember (and a few you probably don’t).
                Verbs, adjectives, little 12 toes, conjunction junction, I’m only a Bill…
                They’re all there.

            1. “He brought word to the Admiral
              “In charge of their fleet
              “Who said ‘Oui, oui!’ to Yorktown
              “And Cornwallis’ defeat.”
              Continental Insurance pavilion at the NY Worlds Fair. I still remember all the songs.

              Of course, most of those who know that much know nothing about the role of Spain, the Netherlands, and the League of Armed Neutrality comprising most of the other European powers.

      2. Read for example the amazing proposal from Hamilton; you’ll never think of him as a good guy again.

        The musical Hamilton, which many of my friends love and quote endlessly so I’ve pretty much heard the whole thing, has already given me that view of Hamilton. The funny thing is, I think the author liked Hamilton and was trying to lionize him, although he was also aware of Hamilton’s flaws. But he put enough accurate history into his work that I also was able to form an opinion of Hamilton’s character — and it wasn’t a positive one.

        But thanks for the tip to read Madison’s notes at Project Gutenberg. I’ve loaded it up, and I’ll read it over the next several days/weeks as I find time.

        1. I’m not really clear on Hamilton’s character, other than he had a hard time resisting temptation. Like a lot of politicians and lawyers, he figured that if he could do something, he should do it. Considering the wisdom of his action came later.

          He had the same tendency to push things in his writing. So it’s hard to tell if you’re listening to a sober and well-considered opinion, or if he just had a wild hair up his butt and was writing faster than his brain. (Or if he was just arguing against something because somebody else was for it.)

        2. Before the musical was Ron Chernow’s monumental book, Alexander Hamilton, which inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the musical.

          I lucked out, The Spouse picked it up for me as an audio book on cassettes for $7.00 when it was put on clearance at the local bookseller. Yes, Chernow is sympathetic to Hamilton, but the book is no hagiography, Chernow did not hide his faults. I don’t know how many miles of commute and household chores were made far more tolerable so far, but a lot so far. (I have also enjoyed Chernow’s biography Washington: A Life, and am looking forward to his work on Grant.)

        1. Hamilton fancied an American monarchy, with Geo. Washington as king.

          In his defense, that was the common way of the world, nothing like democratic self-governance was known (although the Netherlands sorta kinda engaged in something of the like) and he doubtless was concerned about how other monarchs would treat with a “president.”

          OTOH, once committed to the Constitution Hamilton was its staunchest advocate, organizing the writing of the Federalist papers and composing 60% of them.

          The scholarly detective work of Douglass Adair in 1944 postulated the following assignments of authorship, corroborated in 1964 by a computer analysis of the text:

          * – Alexander Hamilton (51 articles: No. 1, 6–9, 11–13, 15–17, 21–36, 59–61, and 65–85)

          * – James Madison (29 articles: No. 10, 14, 18–20,[9] 37–58 and 62–63)

          * – John Jay (5 articles: No. 2–5 and 64).

          A total of 85 articles were written between the three men in a span of six months. The authors used the pseudonym “Publius”, in honor of Roman consul Publius Valerius Publicola.

          1. To be even more fair to Hamilton, his American “monarch” could be impeached and removed from office.

            But he did talk about a more powerful President than what the Constitution gave us.

            His President would have had an absolute veto (not one that could be over-ridden).

            His President was a President-For-Life (unless he was impeached & removed that way).

            1. Several years ago I read the Anti-Federalist, and one of the points made about the President was that, even outside the Convention, people were all over the map as to what would be best to have for this office.

              So I think that should be considered in his defense as well.

              (Having said that, since I tend towards the anarcho-capitalist scale of things, I tend to disagree a lot with Hamilton’s outlook on governance…)

              1. Looking for something else, I found an article concerning the debate on “what titles, honors, etc” should be given to the President of the US.

                Things like “His Majesty”, “His Worthness”, etc.

                George Washington ended the debates after becoming our first President.

                He was responsible for “Mr. President” being used to address the President. 😉

              2. Also, Hamilton’s methods made sense for developing fledgling industry and the infrastructure the United States needed to expand economically and geographically.

    3. The leaders from Virginia understood that slavery did not align with the ideals of liberty the nation was founded upon, but they could not see how their beloved agrarian way of life could survive without it, nor could they see free blacks as part of their society. They certainly discussed various gradual emancipation plans, ways to provide reimbursement and resettlement schemes. They spoke and wrote in opposition to the institution of slavery, they did not take concrete action against it.

      There is one notable exception among the Virginians of the time, George Washington. He directed in his will that William Lee was to be emancipated immediately and all those remaining slaves that were in his power to free would be freed upon the death of his wife. Rather than waiting his wife arranged their emancipation within a year of Washington’s death. (Note: at the time of Washington’s death there were two ways to legally free slaves in Virginia, by deed of manumission or will.)

      1. Even one so enlightened (for his era, as enlightenment is wont to be) as Washington took great care to limit his residency in Philadelphia to preclude Pennsylvania’s laws from freeing his slave, Billy Lee.

        Said laws demonstrating something or other about the rules underlying the States’ treatment of slavery, but I will want more coffee ere I contemplate that.

        1. Washington seemed to be of two minds regarding slavery, on the whole apparently more opposed to it toward the end of his life. Toward the end of his life he attempted to sell his undeveloped land and sell or rent his farms, with the intention of purchasing and freeing his wife’s dower slaves with some of the proceeds and supporting himself and his wife with the rest. He didn’t find buyers on his first attempt and apparently never made a second. Occasionally I wonder what, if anything, would have changed had he succeeded.

          (The supporting documentation is a series of letters between Washington, his secretary Tobias Lear and a separate but related series of letters between Washington and an English farming expert named Arthur Young.)

    4. I read recently (I tried and failed to google a similar reference) that pre-ACW, the per capita income of ‘Southern Gentlemen’ in the states of Georgia and South Carolina was the highest in the world. Now, granted it was on the backs of slave labor; however, it shows some of the underlying reasons those states were adamant in their position.
      In Virginia and North Carolina, probably the only regions with a large slave population were tobacco plantations (aka ‘The Piedmont’). My Father lived in Bath Co, part of the Appalachians, and he had never even seen a black person until they moved to the big cities in Tidewater.

      1. As many pre-Revolution planters could attest, high income and great wealth are not always congruent. Washington was nearly unique among his class for realizing that selling crops to the English and buying English goods with money advanced against the proceeds of those crops tended to redound to the net benefit of the English. His subsequent diversification and development of alternate income streams a) enabled him to grasp Hamilton’s mercantile philosophy (unlike his contemporaries, Jefferson and Madison) and b) made him an example not followed by others of his class.

        The conceit of the War of Southern Secession being about slavery become complicated when one considers that NC, the state with the fewest slaves held, contributed the most troops to the Army of the Confederacy … and that most of those NC troops came from the Scots-Irish settlers of Appalachia.

        Damned Scots-Irish, unwelcome in any civilized world.

        1. Whether the war itself was about slavery is debatable. But secession *was* about slavery, as every document from those that voted to secede makes clear.

          1. I recently watched a talk by Dinesh D’Souza where he observed that slavery wasn’t a North/South issue, so much as it was a Democrat/non-Democrat issue (with Democrats being the champions of slavery).

            I haven’t yet been able to think about or research the implications of this with regards to the Civil War…

            1. While the Democrats were the party that most strongly supported slavery, and, after the end of Reconstruction, imposed Jim Crow; they were also divided on the issue. One of the reasons that Lincoln won in 1860 was that the Democrats not only ran Douglas on their main ticket, there was also a ‘Southern Democrat’ candidate in Breckenridge. Between the two they received more popular votes than did Lincoln (hmmmm???) and I don’t know enough about how their votes fell out in states that Lincoln won to be able to say whether a single Democratic ticket could have won. They would have had to win some of Lincoln’s states, because between the two of them (even if you include Bell) they only won 123 electoral votes to Lincoln’s 180. (Just played around a bit on Dave Leap’s excellent site and it looks like at best they could have flipped OR and CA for only 7 electoral votes. Never mind, they lost pretty handily.

              1. Nationally, Douglas (29.5%) and Breckinridge (18.1%) had more votes than Lincoln (39.8%). However, only in California and Oregon would their combined vote have defeated Lincoln, affecting only 7 of LIncoln’s 180 electoral votes (152 needed to win).

                Lincoln got popular-vote majorities in fourteen states with 169 electoral votes, while getting zero votes in nine states and only 5,565 in three others.

            2.         It was rather more complex than this, as you’ll find out if you check books about the politics of the 1850s.

                      The various Democratic parties were always the major party of the South, because they were friendlier to agrarian interests.  With around 80% of the South and 50% of the North being farmers, the parties of Jefferson and Jackson dominated U.S. politics up to 1846 (respectively the “Democratic-Republicans,” usually shortened to “Republicans,” and the “Democracy”).  They destroyed the Federalists, and the Whigs were a combination of former Federalists and former Democratic-Republicans who wanted protective tariffs and “internal improvements.”

                      All Southern political parties supported slavery, and anti-slavery was illegal in the Middle and Deep South.  Even in the border South, there wasn’t much opposition, and it was physically dangerous to speak against slavery in any slave state (google “Cassius Clay” -Ali “bowie knife”).

                      In the North, attitudes varied from “Slavery is a positive good,” to “Slavery is the ultimate in evil.”   The majority of whites believed that slavery was bad for them, and didn’t want it where they lived.  Sometimes this was for moral reasons, sometimes for practical reasons (‘I’m a working man, and slavery would lower my wages,’), and sometimes because they just hated blacks and didn’t want them in their state.

                      Since all but a few nut-jobs believed that the Constitution made slavery a state matter, Northerners were generally willing to leave it alone where it was, but determined to stop if from spreading into new territory where they wanted to settle.  But the South was equally determined to see slavery spread.  They’d lost control of the House of Representatives (would have even if slaves had been counted at five-fifths instead of three-fifths), and the Senate was all they had left.  If all new states came in as free states, slavery would eventually die by constitutional amendment.  So the Southern wings of both national parties pressured their Northern fellows for accommodations on slavery.

                      In the ‘50s, this ripped the national parties apart, one by one.  The Whigs basically collapsed in 1854.  The Americans, also called the “Know Nothings”, rose swiftly and collapsed swiftly in the second half of the ’50s when the Northern and Southern branches couldn’t agree on a slavery-extension position.  The Southern Whigs and Southern Know Nothings mostly ended up in the Democracy because it was ‘the only game left in town.’

                      The Democrats’ turn came in 1860.  The Supreme Court’s decision in Dred Scott v.  Sandford required the territories to be at least nominally slave-friendly, but the territorial govts. could always frustrate them by going limp: don’t pass laws regulating and protecting slave property, and the Institution would collapse.  The furthest the Northern wing of the Democracy could go was “popular sovereignty”: let the settlers in each territory decide for themselves whether the territory would be free or slave, by passing or not passing such pro-slavery laws.  But with more than twice as many whites in the North as whites in the South, that was a de facto position of no new slave states.  (Look up “Bleeding Kansas” for the details of how it worked when tried.)  This led to the Southern Democrats walking out of the Charleston convention and setting up their own party in 1860.  In turn, a lot of Northern Democrats got disgusted and either split their ballots or went whole hog Republican.  But that didn’t make them abolitionists, or even necessarily free-soilers.  One of the reasons Lincoln soft-pedaled anti-slavery in the first eighteen months of the Unpleasantness was because a lot of his soldiers joined up to save the Union, but would have deserted if an anti-slavery war had been declared.  As the fighting went on, the conviction grew that slavery and Union were no longer compatible, first in the Union Army, then in the North generally.  Add the ‘victory’ of Antietam, and the war became explicitly anti-slavery.

                      So it’s not really true to say the Democrats were the pro-slavery party.  The Northern Democrats were somewhat more slave-accomodating than the Northern Whigs, and they survived longer, but in the end it ended up as North vs. South rather than Democrat vs. Republican.

        2. “and that most of those NC troops came from the Scots-Irish settlers of Appalachia.

          Damned Scots-Irish, unwelcome in any civilized world.”

          Actually, Montgomery (one of seven British generals in that conflict born in Ulster) got it right: “We Scots Irish love to fight; when there’s no one else to fight, we fight each other.”

        3. “NC, the state with the fewest slaves held…”

          Uh, no. In 1860, North Carolina had 331,059 slaves, more than the “Confederate” states of Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas, and more than any of the “Border” states.

          1. Perhaps it was fewest slave-holders or fewest slaves held per capita…. it has been quite a long time since I was told this.

            1.         When it comes to the Civil War and slavery, don’t accept anything on faith, no matter who tells it to you.  Deliberate lies are common, people interpret things according to their political faith (‘Well, it _says_ X, but what it _means_ is clearly Y.’), and they repeat things without bothering to check them.  Trace back to the original sources whenever possible.

  3. Another factor, besides simple head counting, was production. While slaves weren’t voting citizens, they were still workers, and the slave states still had an economic advantage back at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

    1. Yes, they did. Cotton was a prestige fabric: easier to work and softer than linen, and with uber-cheap labor, able to be produced in quantity as well (the most labor-intensive part of cotton manufacture was harvesting, until that could be mechanized). That in itself was a big economic advantage before manufacturing started to kick in.

  4. The 3/5ths compromise was reached before the Philadelphia Convention was even called.

    The Articles of Confederation called for taxes to be levied on the basis of the states total assessed property values. Soon, it was realized that the different states assessed the same property at different values. A better way was desired.

    In 1754, Ben Franklin had proposed his “Albany Plan of Union.” He suggested a unified colonial government, with taxes levied on the basis of population, and periodic censuses to adjust the allocation. This was now revived.

    ‘WAIT A BLAMED MINUTE!’, said the Congresscritters from the slave states. ‘Slave don’t work as hard as free men. Slaves shouldn’t be counted the same.’ The principle was agreed to, and after much wrangling, James Madison’s suggestion of counting 3/5ths of slaves was adopted. A proposal to amend the Articles was then submitted to the several States, which failed to ratify it unanimously, as the Articles required.

    At the Philadelphia Convention, Madison’s proposal was revived, and accepted as the basis for taxation. After much disgracefully hypocritical wrangling, with each state striving to maximize its relative power, sanity prevailed: direct taxes and representation in the House would be assessed at the same rate. At which point the Madison plan was adopted without much further thought.

    Political principle was prominent mostly by its absence here. But it does illustrate the wisdom of Otto von Bismarck: one doesn’t want to see how sausages and laws are made, but God takes special care of fools, drunks, and the United States. The 3/5ths rule limited the political power of slave holders relative to the free states. Yet when secession was proclaimed, the Confederate Constitution incorporated the 3/5ths rule intact. Which goes to show that God is an iron.

    1. The slave states also tried to get slaves categorized as Machinery. John Q Adams stopped when he was an congressman, (After he was president.)

  5. I’m just tired of all the self important people who so easily imagine everyone born before the peak of human genius (them) were grunting savages who had nothing of worth to contribute. The sad truth is these glorious ones don’t even have the mental tools to judge their ancestors, much less build upon what they were given.

    1. They haven’t even been pointed at the right dang filing cabinet to find out what tools go to which job, or to find out what the folks before them built. An awful lot of the stuff that took a lot of building, they’re told Was Always There.

  6. “Claiming that the three-fifths compromise was because the delegates didn’t see slaves as people is at least three-fifths of a lie – and, like the curate’s egg, that makes it wholly deceptive.”

    Well, Kate, everybody that voted for Trump is a racist, why should the old dead White men get a pass?

    We should all get used to this sh1t from the MSM, there is going to be a lot more of it. Already the New York Times is -openly- lying about their post-election meeting with Trump, despite there being a full transcript and a video of the proceedings.

    More people should do what I’ve been doing since 2007, just stop paying for cable TV, cancel your newspaper subscriptions and listen to your ipod instead of the radio. It is literally all outright lies and half truths out there.

    1. I don’t watch TV or read newspapers, honestly. I just have a wide range of Facebook friends.

      Of course, seeing the 3/5 nonsense from a lawyer who damn well ought to know better was what set this rant off in the first place. It just had to fester for a while before emerging.

    2. This is remarkably like the people who repeat the claim that the Citizens United decision said that corporations are people. In fact, what Justice Kennedy wrote was that when people, who have the right to freedom of expression, choose to associate in the corporate form to exercise that right, the right is not diminished, but is passed on in full to the corporation; in fact, the ability to incorporate protects freedom of expression, by letting you make a film critical of a political candidate without the feat of losing your house and your retirement funds to a lawsuit. But of course that requires the ability to think abstractly enough to grasp that “corporation” does not mean a huge profit-making enterprise, but a legal form that any person or group of people can adopt for their activities—something on which Kennedy was not confused at all.

      1. And the people who neglect to mention – or don’t know – that a part of the Citizen’s United decision went that way because the legislation it struck down was so poorly written that damn near anything could be defined as “political expression” and then used to attack the organization behind/funding such expression.

      2. If CU were to be struck down, it occurs to me that the financial activities of a great many purely political groups would be outlawed…

        1. But it would mainly be the financial activities of a great many of the wrong sort of political groups, you know, like the Koch Brothers. Unions would yet retain the power to impose levies upon the membership to promote policies beneficial to their upper management.

  7. You certainly don’t have to go all the way back to the Founding to see where they completely misinterpret things that were compromises intended to smooth things out. Look at the way the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rule was referred to by those who fought to have it “repealed”, and still refer to it now. They talk about it like it was an awful rule that should have never been implemented, when it was really a compromise that allowed people to look the other way legitimately when they found out that someone was violating the restrictions against gays in the military.

    Note: OK, OK, anyone who wants to point at me and make duck noises while telling me how I’m misrepresenting it myself can understand that I have never been in the military, and didn’t really read the damn thing. I was just presenting the layman’s view.

    1. I was in the Marines during the early “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” years. In my experience, it worked as a buffer between gay soldiers, and those who wanted to throw them out. Because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, if a gay-hater suspected someone of being gay, he wasn’t allowed to just ASK. He had to have proof. As long as the suspected gay soldier was careful, there was no way for the haters to get proof.

      Was this the perfect solution? No. Not by a long shot. Perfect would have been for everyone to just get over it and realize that humans are humans, and a soldier is a soldier, regardless of sexual proclivities. The reality is that if gays in the military was an all or nothing thing back in ’93 it wouldn’t have happened. The idea of gays openly serving in the military was far too controversial and Clinton didn’t have the political capital to force the issue. Instead, DADT was at least a step in the right direction, and laid the groundwork for gays to eventually be able to serve openly.

      Societal change doesn’t happen over night. It usually takes years of incremental steps. Sometimes there are setbacks. Sometimes, when you look back at them using the context of today, the incremental steps along the way can look horrible and bigoted.

      Cursing DADT today is like the nature hiker with dry feet looking back across the river he just crossed and hating the stepping stones he used to cross because they weren’t a bridge.

      1. Perfect would have been for everyone to just get over it …

        Perfect would be for humans too cease to be human. Any other formulation, such as that cited above, presupposes that which is to be demonstrated: a definition of “perfect” which coincides with one’s prejudices.

        Were I, for example, viciously heteronormative I might assert, “Perfect would have been for everyone to suppress their sexual desires” or “Perfect would have been for homosexuals to convert to heterosexuality.”

        Perfect is enemy of the good precisely because it forces a win/lose consequence where none was needed. Compromise occurs when equal and valid* interests are in mutual opposition but do not directly bear upon the issue at hand.

        *Valid being a moral judgement in cases such as this there is no resolution available short of imposing one side’s morality upon the other.

        1. Sigh… I suppose I have to qualify EVERYTHING or the nit-pickers freak out. Replace “Perfect” in my comment with “Perfect (in my opinion)”.

          Being that it was my comment, and therefore by definition my opinion, one would have thought that the “(in my opinion)” would be assumed. Guess not.

          1. Stuart, your point was valid and well made, but if people are going to misrepresent the “three-fifths” argument in ways that invert its meaning it is useful to review the processes by which such errors are reached.

            Compromise is only necessary in those realms where opinions differ.

                1. Thank you. *puts it in the corner with the other internets I’ve been given for being my snarky self*

        1. From the viewing of a video will on an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati (from imperfect memory):

          “…you were always an all-or-nothing sort, and since you can’t have it all, you get… nothing.”

      2. I was in the Navy ’73-’94. I don’t think DADT was a step in the right direction. Of course, having been felt up in the middle of the night in berthing on my first ship might tend to color my perceptions somewhat. About two weeks later someone in deck department berthing managed to fall down 4 decks worth of ladders without help. 20 witnesses testified to it. Midnight molesting mysteriously stopped after that.

        The homosexuals I knew personally who were bounced out, about 5 or 6 during that time frame. were all bounced out for other reasons, not their homosexuality. But they all had other psychological problems going on. This includes my 1st cousin, so you can’t say I’d think differently if it were family.

        Senior officers will tell you integrating open homosexuals is no problem. I have two sons, one still in the Army, prior enlisted now commissioned, one prior enlisted now a successful civilian. Both of them disagree with that assessment. As do most of the enlisted people I’ve talked to since 1994. Seems the further away a servicemember’s job is from arduous duty, the more accepting a person is.

        But then, senior officers also say putting women in combat units is a great idea! It isn’t.

        1. Historically, senior officers get to be senior by telling the civilian leadership what that leadership wants to hear.

          It is notably one of the major reasons for so much loss of life and turnover of command in the initial stages of a war.

          1. Unfortunately, the nature of modern warfare is such that only the loss of life (for his/her troops) is guaranteed. The turnover can often be avoided because of the skills at bureaucracy that got the idjit promoted in the first place.

    2. Your layman’s view fits the info on the ground. It was a compromise that had pluses and minuses, just like the compromise that was before. Abusive asses were still abusive asses, just enabled a slightly different group.

      1. If only more people understood that “compromise” means that nobody gets what they want and everybody goes away equally unhappy,

  8. Anybody arguing that interpretation of Art. I, sec. 2. is either professing ignorance or cupidity, although we ought not eschew the power of and.

    Frederick Douglass, who knew more about the evils of slavery than anybody presuming to now condemn the Founders, defended the three-fifths clause thusly:

    But giving the provisions the very worse construction, what does it amount to? I answer — It is a downright disability laid upon the slaveholding States; one which deprives those States of two-fifths of their natural basis of representation. A black man in a free State is worth just two-fifths more than a black man in a slave State, as a basis of political power under the Constitution. Therefore, instead of encouraging slavery, the Constitution encourages freedom by giving an increase of “two-fifths” of political power to free over slave States. So much for the three-fifths clause; taking it at is worst, it still leans to freedom, not slavery; for, be it remembered that the Constitution nowhere forbids a coloured man to vote.

    There are other, equally strong arguments supporting this interpretation, but those who argue this are not debating in good faith and need not be treated as if that were the case.

    1. RES, not only does the Constitution not forbid blacks to vote (and free blacks voted in several states in the late 18th & early 19th centuries, including North Carolina), one doesn’t have to be eligible to vote to be counted for purposes of representation. Had the Fifteenth Amendment not been passed, the ex-slave states would still have gotten a bump in representation when the next census was conducted.

      1. Not to mention there were quite a few black slave owners, and a number of not-black slaves. The latter faded off as indenture became less common, but it was still a thing at the time of the Revolutionary Wars.

        There are people who still have ancestors’ certificates of manumission: I rather doubt those made much of a distinction between a newly freed black and a newly freed not-black.

        1. Also of some interest:

          The first 19 or so Africans to reach the English colonies arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619, brought by Dutch traders who had seized them from a captured Spanish slave ship. The Spanish usually baptized slaves in Africa before embarking them. As English law then considered baptized Christians exempt from slavery, colonists treated these Africans as indentured servants, and they joined about 1,000 English indentured servants already in the colony. The Africans were freed after a prescribed period and given the use of land and supplies by their former masters.

          I note with some irritation that while John Casor’s race and status are noted in the article, his master Johnson’s, is not. Johnson is a former indentured servant and black.

  9. Well said. Had an idiot the other day that was trying to say the Constitution (original) had nothing to say about slavery – and therefore the Founders did not acknowledge its existence.

    There’s the 3/5ths rule – and also the importation “sunset” clause.

    I also hit the idiot with the observation that the Dred Scott decision was made correctly, and was within the proper role of SCOTUS, although the result was immoral by modern standards which were emerging at that time. The courts are not the arbiters of public morality – they are the deciders of law.

    1. “the Dred Scott decision was made correctly, and was within the proper role of SCOTUS, although the result was immoral by modern standards which were emerging at that time.”

      Dred Scott arguably decided the issue immediately at hand in accordance with the law; however, it almost certainly overreached when it prohibited states from being free states, and went far beyond the scope of SCOTUS’ authority when it said that blacks could never be citizens of the United States.

      1. Oh Noes!!!!! A SCOTUS decision going far beyond the scope of the Court’s authority!!! Whatever shall we do?

        I Know! We should elect people who will appoint Justices who liberally interpret the law to reach decisions they think just and moral and the hell with what the laws and the Constitution actually say!

      2. And it was historically wrong, because blacks had been citizens going back to the Boston Massacre, with commensurate rights that were gradually removed after around 1800 or so. (My Constitutional history prof walked us through everything Taney’s decision got wrong about history. Can you tell it was a sore spot with him?)

        1. Then again, the Dred Scott decision serves well as an argument for the right to bear arms. Oleg Volk turned it into a great image with the caption “Free people own guns. Slaves don’t.”

          1. And funnily enough the big push for gun restrictions started after the Civil War. In the Southern States.

            Gee. I wonder why that happened.

            1. That was one of the reasons behind the 14th Amendment. The argument went that because they were not citizens, freed slaves were not protected by the 2nd Amendment. And after the sheriffs went around confiscating guns, the guys in white sheets dropped by to say howdy. Funny thing, that.

              1. And the Civil Rights Movement in the South only really began to get traction when the NRA trained and equipped Civil Rights activists. Apparently doing drive-by shoot-em ups of activists’ houses became much less entertaining when the residents could shoot back.

                The National Rifle Association was “founded by religious leaders who wanted to protect freed slaves from the Ku Klux Klan.”
                Harry Alford on Friday, February 22nd, 2013 in a news conference

                Politifact does its usual hatchet job to declare this “Pants on fire” but if you look at Alford’s actual claim it is not significantly wrong, just phrased in such way that the determined to misunderstand can drive a truck through it.

        2. Um, sorry, TXRed – a Free Black could technically be a citizen of a State – but not of the United States. The 1790 Act specifically limited citizenship (for Federal purposes) to “free white persons.” That was reprehensible – but perfectly Constitutional under Congressional authority to regulate such. An authority that they did not have in the States, thanks to a Tenth Amendment that was (mostly) honored at first.

          Now, I cannot find any case where the election for a Federal office (mostly just House of Representatives at the time) was challenged in a Free State because emancipated Blacks were allowed to vote in it – but it could have been.

          People keep on thinking of the antebellum US as being just like the postbellum US (or even like today’s US). It was NOT. To which I say, “Thank God” – but doesn’t keep me from seeing the facts.

          1. Would that have been to keep the slave states happier? After all, they could lose quite a lot of advantages if free blacks were able to migrate to free states and become US citizens – it would eliminate many of the incentives for free blacks to stay local and own their own slaves (something I understand quite a few aspired to and achieved).

            1. There were, as we say today, issues, and not only in Slave States. And, after the Haitian revolt, I think the Slave States would have been perfectly happy for freedmen to migrate. Toward 1860, some states made it difficult to free slaves, likely because they did not want a large number of free blacks.

              Okay, so this is speculation on my part. But the revolt in Haiti and the Nat Turner rebellion had to weigh heavy on minds, particularly in Slave States. It was enough to require a white present at a gathering over X number of blacks, free or slave.

              1. One of the things that Catholics did that “endeared” them in the south was that they would send white priests to serve the slaves and bypass those sort of laws– oddly enough, it ended up resulting in shock when folks found out how relatively common black priests were, since you didn’t see them in the south.

              2. The shift in laws began at the end of the eighteenth century. In 1778 the state of Virginia passed a law forbidding settlement of freed blacks from other states within its borders. After a suppressed slave revolt of 1800 Virginia began to pass more laws restricting the rights of freed blacks and placing limitations on slaves. In 1806 they added a law requiring any slave freed within the state to move out of the state within a year unless given special permission.

            2. This issue of migration points up the absurdity of the “only counted as 3/5” position: a Black man could, by moving from slave status to freedman increase his Constitutional “worth” by 40%.

            3. Possibly, for some in the first Congress. But you have to realize that there were probably as many different views on Blacks and slavery in that Congress as there were Congress-critters. “Blacks are beasts of burden, and not very good ones at that…” “Blacks are people, but slavery is really the best thing for them, they are such incompetent savages…” “Blacks should not be slaves, but of course they are incapable of participating in a civilized society…” – and the (extremely rare, even among Abolitionists) “Blacks are people just like us, and can achieve just as much as Whites given the same opportunities.”

              Mix, match, throw in different religious views and education levels – you end up with the default to “free White persons,” which was the only thing on which all of them could agree as the basis from which they could wrangle over such things as how long they had been residents, etc. (This actually excluded the non-free White persons; there were still a tiny number of indentured Whites at the time. Perfectly Constitutional – that document only said who would be counted for apportionment, not who was allowed into full citizenship.)

              1. True that – you put a dozen congresscritters in a room and get 15 opinions. And in all honesty, the tribal cultures the black slaves came from weren’t really ready to interact with American society of the time as equals.

                Which would have looked to most people of the time as “incapable of participating in a civilized society”.

                1. True, true. However, my family goes way back in this country. Quite a few of my Scot ancestors came over here – and promptly faded into the deep woods. Most of them weren’t exactly capable of participating in a civilized society, either… (We’re not completely sure, but it is likely that at least some were mercenaries that picked a losing paymaster, and thought it a very good idea to get out of anywhere in Europe…)

                  1. Oh, there were plenty of European cultures not capable of participating in a civilized society at the time. Highland Scots being just one of them.

      3. Dred Scott arguably decided the issue immediately at hand in accordance with the law; however, it almost certainly overreached when it prohibited states from being free states, and went far beyond the scope of SCOTUS’ authority when it said that blacks could never be citizens of the United States.

        Not quite. It ruled that Congress could not allow only members of one state into a territory, or prohibit the laws and practices of one and favor those of another. This seems to contradict Article IV, Section 3, which, as read, appears to allow Congress to vote to make a territory a free territory or a slave territory or let the territory decide (“Paging Bleeding Kansas”).

        A state could do as it pleased. It could allow slavery or ban the practice. What it could not do was to declare a slave owned by a citizen of a state where slavery was permitted free simply for crossing the border. Article IV, Section 2, of the US Constitution says as much. However, if a citizen of slave state became a citizen of a free state, then the citizen was subject to laws forbidding slavery, and must either sell his slaves or grant them freedom.

        One particularly nasty question is whether a member of a free state could own slaves in a slave state. I suppose that would depend on the law in the free state.

        The other issue was whether slaves were citizens. Dred Scott held they were not. This state of affairs would continue until the 14th Amendment. And yet Dred Scott also held that while a state could not define or grant US citizenship, it could grant non-citizens the same rights as citizens. In this case, a state could allow freedmen the same rights as other citizens.

    2. Actually, Dred Scott was not decided correctly. The Court’s “decision” turned on the alleged inability of blacks to be citizens in any state when the Constitution was adopted. This wasn’t true.

      And under Missouri’s own law, Scott was free, as the lower court ruled. The Missouri Supremes overruled the lower court on the ‘legal’ ground that they didn’t like the activities of people in the free states, so they’d unilaterally change Missouri’s law.

      Finally, the Constitution pre-Thirteenth Amendment does not contain any reference to slavery. That was done precisely because many of the delegates in Philadelphia did not wish to give it even an indirect sanction.

      1. “No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, But shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.”

        Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3.

        This does not name it as slavery, but contains the concept. Just as you won’t find the word “Trinity” in the bible, but it can be argued that the bible contains the concept of the Trinity.

        A free state could enact laws prohibiting its citizens from owning slaves. It could no more prevent a citizen from another state to own a slave anymore than it could prevent them from entering into a contract. And if a citizen of one state had entered into a contract forbidden in a particular state, passing over into that state did not render that contract null and void.

        The USSC did not rule that a state could not prohibit slavery with its own citizens, only that it could not free slaves owned by non-resident.

        1.         In the Dred Scott decision, Taney claimed that blacks could not bring suit in federal court because they could not be citizens of the United States.  The alleged reasoning was that at the time the Constitution was ratified, no state recognized blacks as citizens.

                  That reasoning was a lie.  At least one Southern state, North Carolina, allowed free blacks to vote, the hallmark of citizenship.  Further, Massachusetts had ended slavery on the grounds that the state constitution recognized the universal rights of human beings without regard to color.  Thus the entire decision was based on a lie from beginning to end, as the dissents pointed out.

                  Further, in bringing Scott into Illinois, voluntarily, his then owner freed him under both Illinois and Missouri law.

                  Moreover, in bringing him into non-state Federal territory, he was free under U.S. law preceding the Constitution, law immediately affirmed in the First Congress under the Constitution.  As one A. Lincoln pointed out in 1860 in his speech at Cooper’s Union in New York, an absolute majority of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention voted in favor of that law as members of the First Congress, and the President of the Constitutional Convention signed it into law as first President of the United States.

                  Finally, as Chief Justice John Marshall pointed out, the idea that the Constitution forbids the Congress could not make positive law for the territories of the United States is absurd.  And slavery is a matter of positive law.  If the U.S. Congress could not regulate slavery in the territories, then it could not make a law to bring fugitive slaves in the territories back to their owners.

                  And as always (we went through this repeatedly on the Bar), you studiously ignore the Bill of Rights guarantees of the legal rights of persons when that person was a black human being before the Civil War.  The Fugitive Act conflicted with the Bill of Rights, and was thus unconstitutional on its face.

                  But despite the insistence of Taney, and you, that the purpose of the Constitution of the United States was to preserve slavery forever, Dred Scott was wrongly and dishonestly decided.

          1. I don’t think Kevin’s reasoning is even close to Taney’s in this matter. The fact is that the Constitution does contain oblique references to slavery, because the slave-based economy states wanted to make sure their rights to their “property” would be respected under the new government.
            However, you are right in that slavery was deliberately not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, because most of the writers hoped it would go away on its own.
            It took until the 1820s and 30s before people started defending it as a “good, a positive good!” instead of “We’re stuck with this system, what are we going to do about it?”

          2. I don’t do narrative. You know I don’t do narrative. And I’m weary to the point of irritability of narrative mascaraing as history. I don’t care if it’s a narrative I favor or not. History viewed through ideology or narrative is one of the things I highly despise. I have seen too many half truths to outright lies, among them that Benjamin Franklin was a Christian and Thomas Paine an atheist.

            The narrative is that Dred Scott was a bad decision because slavery is a bad thing. That slavery is a bad thing is not the point. The point is whether the ruling is justified under the US Constitution. What happened prior to the US Constitution doesn’t override the US Constitution. Otherwise, the 13th Amendment itself would be voided in well over half the states.

            Go read the US Constitution. Go read Scott vs Sanford. Go read the particulars. Do not read the predigested opinions of historians, who may or may not have an ax to grind. Do not read through the lenses of ideology. History is what it is, and the events of the past don’t change one way of the other. And know the issue of citizenship was not cleared up until the 14th Amendment.

            1.         And there you go again, doing narrative.

                      I said, and say again, that Dred Scott was wrongly decided, on the basis of historical fact and constitutional law.  You then pretend that I said something I didn’t.  Which I have experienced with you before.

                      The decision that Dred Scott had no standing in a U.S. court because of his race can not be reached by anything in the U.S. Constitution, as amended through 1856.  The Constitution speaks of persons, without regard to race, and guarantees certain of their inherent human rights.  The Dred Scott decision can not be justified by anything found in colonial or Confederation history either.  It was just something made up by Taney, to allow him to reach a desired result, and it the Chief “Justice” had to lie about history to reach said result.

        2. The text doesn’t actually apply in the Scott case, as he was brought / sent to the free state by his master. It’s perfectly consistent with that text – and supportive of state’s rights – to say that slaves are not permitted on this state’s soil. Slaves who escape into that state must nevertheless be returned to their master, but that doesn’t mean that the state can’t punish a master who brought his slaves onto its soil in violation of its law by confiscating and freeing his slaves.

      2. Sigh.

        Article 1, Section 2: “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.”

        Note – indentured persons counted as free, “Indians” not at all (except a few that were taxed) – “other” is what? Those in life servitude.

        Article 4, Section 2: “No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, But shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.” Sorry, the Fugitive Slave Act only regulated this clause that was already in the Constitution.

        Article 9, Section 1: “The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight.” Even I forget the correct reading of this one – although I’m only one among many. Strictly, it only prohibited the Federal Government from preventing anyone that a State government thought fit from being brought into that State. However… The first Immigration and Naturalization Act was passed ASAP, in 1790. The Federal regulation of immigration by this Act was never challenged by any State, slave or free. Then there is the “Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves” of 1807 (taking effect in 1808, just as soon as it was Constitutional for the Congress to enact it – some of the delegates to the Convention were still in Congress at the time, BTW).

        I’ll let this one pass, as people make typos (although you did it several times) – the State law and lower court decision overruled by SCOTUS in Dred Scott was the Free State Illinois law and decision – the ruling was that they could not override the laws of Slave State Missouri.

        This is one of the reasons I don’t hang around the Bar any longer, BTW – people who cannot read plain English, and twist history to their preferences.

        The Constitution as originally drafted was an imperfect document, in an imperfect world, at an imperfect time. It is still an imperfect document, in an imperfect world, at an imperfect time – although it is more perfected than in 1787. Perfection is for angels, not men.

        (Sarah, this is getting rather close to forbidden – “tarpit” – territory. Let me know if it should be dropped after this.)

        1. I dropped the Bar when I noticed the chip on my shoulder grew to about six foot long, with no sign of stopping. It was time to go and hope I developed a better attitude.

          1. Mine was about six feet long, too – and two inches by four inches true measure. Before milling to get the splinters off. And extreme temptation to take it off the shoulder.

            Took a quick glance over there a couple weeks ago, and remembered why. Oh, not all of the Bar – just the ones with the loudest and most pigheaded on both ends of the spectrum. Still pop into the “fan” forums, although I don’t contribute there, not being quite so “fanatic” about the fiction. But there are some very bright people discussing technology and history in those. Nearly always learn something new.

        2.         Wrong again.

                  Dred Scott brought a lawsuit in Missouri claiming that he was a free person under Missouri’s laws.  The trial court ruled that he was indeed free, under the laws of the state of Missouri, citing precedent that when a slave-owning citizen of the state of Missouri took his slave into a state or territory in which slavery was forbidden, said slave was freed by Missouri state law.

                  Do actually look up the relevant history in the sources before trying to argue with me on historical matters.

          1. All of which demonstrates conclusively that the question of slavery in general, the Dred Scott decision, 3/5 rule, and assorted comprises in particular are way the heck more complicated than a 30 second soundbite can capture.

            1. Thus demonstrating that encompassing accurately a complex issue is not the intended purpose of that 30 second soundbite.

              Leaving us to speculate on what the actual purpose might have been.

            2.         Quite so, Kate.  The Dred Scott decision is the subject of numerous books and articles, and my local library has at least two books on the general subject of comity between states and the conflict of laws between free and slave states.  Those interested might try Free Men All: The Personal Liberty Laws of the North, 1760-1861, by Thomas D. Morris and An Imperfect Union: Slavery, Federalism, and Comity by Paul Finkelman, and Slavery, Law, and Politics: The Dred Scott Case in Historical Perspective by Don E. Fehrenbacher.  I can recommend all three as excellent.

          2. Missouri State law was settled by the Missouri State Supreme Court. Which ruled that Scott was still a slave. Precedent law is only good until the precedent is changed.

            Now, whether the State of Missouri had a statutory law concerning the status of a person who happened to be taken into a Free State and returned to Missouri – I don’t know. Unlikely, since the ruling of the trial court was based solely on precedent. BTW, Judge Hamilton (the trial court judge) was one of those very brave men in antebellum Missouri to support abolition.

            In any case – that is it, SO. I’m not bringing the bull-headed ignorance exhibited in the Bar into this forum.

            1.         You don’t know what the law was, nor are you going to find out.  Nor are you going to quote the reasoning of the Court in overturning the decision..

                      As non-ignorance goes, that’s really something.

              1. Perhaps everybody in this sub-discussion should take a break to “Cool Down”. 😦

                1. Sir Dragon, I have already “taken a break” – a permanent one. As I said, encouraging the pig-headedness of the Bar here is not something I want to do. I do get far too annoyed with people who invent their own “facts” – even when I agree with them in principle (actually, I consider them more annoying than those whom I disagree with, but are seeing reality – just drawing different lessons from it).

              2. You don’t know what the law was, nor are you going to find out.

                Can’t help but notice that isn’t what WO said.

                Not sure why I remember that you’re not someone to be taken seriously– or at all, given the option– without major objective factual support, but I’m starting to get the idea my memory wasn’t screwy on that point.

  10. Ah, but Kate the whole three fifths thing fits so extremely well in a 30 second sound bite, while the truth of the matter will take minutes and a bit of thought. It truly does not matter that it’s a lie because it serves the narrative, which is that all those old white dudes were racists and thus must be vilified and everything they stood for can be ignored.
    First we destroy the current majority culture, then progressive socialism will naturally take over and we get rainbows and unicorns and free stuff. How can that be wrong?

      1. No no no no no! The unicorns would be volunteers, eager to provide these benefits in exchange for all the wonderful things we would do for them, such as provide housing and health care and pensions and bread and circuses multiple cable channels for their televisions.

        1. Unicorns are notorious for only wanting to associate with virgins, so it’s rather silly for people on the side of Free Love, No Consequences (And You’re a Rapist for Rejecting My Advances Because I’m Fat) to rely on plans requiring heavy unicorn involvement.

          1. Housemate is asexual – rather openly so. You would not BELIEVE how many women seem to think that means ‘Oh you only say that because you haven’t tried it’ and yes, have tried to apply the ‘denying me sexual choice because I am woman, I choose you and you don’t have the right to say no because you’re a man, and men aren’t allowed to deny women’s sexual choices or it’s rape’ idiocy.

            He came home one day rather angry because a woman he was having a pleasant conversation with (talking about Vocaloid) suddenly turned into a harpy because an attractive Asian woman walked by and he looked. Cue rant from the woman he’d been talking to about him being a race traitor and misogynist because he finds ‘submissive Asian women’* attractive as opposed to ‘real women.’ Yep, random woman on the street, a total stranger who struck up a conversation with him because his phone had a Hatsune Miku case, started acting like psycho jealous girlfriend.

            “And that is one of the many reasons why I refuse to have a relationship.”

            *considering he lives with me, ‘submissive’ isn’t how he’d describe Asian women, and the Angry Chinese Food Court Ladies are people he remembers fondly (and apparently, the Food Court ladies were engaged in regular shouting matches.) He recounts a story of when he and a classmate went to the “Chinese chicken and rice place” (The food was cheap, very delicious, it was literally a menu of different types of chicken and rice dishes, and it was near the TAFE) to have lunch. The woman who took their order came back with a huge plate of double serving for Housemate, and a smaller plate for his companion.

            Owner of the shop turns to Housemate. “You too skinny. Eat more.” *turns to companion* “You too fat, eat less.”

            HARDLY submissive.

            1. … he finds ‘submissive Asian women’* attractive as opposed to ‘real women.’

              Real women don’t stereotype.

              And yes, anybody who stereotypes Asian women as submissive knows no Asian women — probably because they hold her in such contempt they play to the stereotype in order to avoid dealing with the psychotic wench.

              1. I think one of the things he said was “And yet again, proof that white women are entitled and psycho. I’m not your boyfriend, I’m a stranger you started talking to. If you want to know why I’m not attracted to white women, this is one of the reasons.”

                (Mind, it’s one of his greater frustrations. Women he’s friends with (coincidentally, most of those are white) that aren’t in a secure relationship eventually get weirdly possessive. Personally I have NEVER understood that.)

                1. Mind, it’s one of his greater frustrations. Women he’s friends with that aren’t in a secure relationship eventually get weirdly possessive.

                  How many of them have brothers? (That they’ve actually been around.)

                  I tend to get kind of possessive of “my guys,” relationship or not, male or not, but it’s pretty solidly in the Team Mom way. (I fuss and try to feed people.)
                  It’s a way of expressing love.
                  If you don’t have a good model for expressing love for a male your own age that isn’t romantic….

                  1. Yeah, if it were the Team Mom way, he’d be fine with that (See the “You too thin, you eat more,” lady) – and similarly, while he does get grumpy if I fuss too much, he doesn’t mind my fussing. (Coz, like you, I fuss and feed people; that’s fine; he recognizes that and recognizes that when I say ‘I love you to bits’ is not romantic but ‘family.’)

                    No, the ‘possessive’ is in the ‘Why the hell are you spending more time with THAT OTHER FEMALE FRIEND than ME?! You like her better, don’t you?!”

                    I am embarrassed by the behavior of my own sex from the sheer number of times it happens. There’ve been so many times where I wake up, stumble out of my room, and am greeted with “Why are women unable to tell the difference between ‘just friendly’ and ‘flirting?'”

                    “Did one of your female friends get upset about your having other female friends again? Which game was it this time?

                    “Yeah. Sit down. I’ll make you a Milo-coffee. And soft boiled eggs.”

                    It seems to follow a trend too, of his being a friendly, helpful, straightforward and honest guy that doesn’t mind listening too much about a girl’s problems (and some of these women have the ‘abusive husband/boyfriend’ problem – one of them he was able to convince to report the husband to the police after he saw her face bruised up) and he doesn’t mind listening while they play games. They may or may not hear his voice (Very deep, plus Aussie accent and lots of women find it sexy), and after a few weeks of being friends suddenly they start treating him as if he’s their boyfriend. (I think the record amount of time it progressed from ‘meet in random party’ to ‘freak out why doyou have other female friends’ was a week flat.) you know how there are women who get frustrated about their being nice and friendly being misinterpreted as flirting and ‘leading on’? Housemate’s the guy version.

                    Oh I just spotted the ‘how many of them have brothers?’ I don’t know.

                    1. Perhaps I have an overly simplistic viewpoint, but that kind of jealous behavior always looked like insecurity to me.

                    2. Gather around, my children, and let me explain the idea of a “safe fallback.” Yes, some women think of their unattached men friends (even if unconsciously) as an emergency safe boyfriend, protecting them from the knowledge that they actually have no current boyfriend or husband to love them.

                      I don’t like Thackeray much, but his novel Vanity Fair has a very good explication of this. Amelia doesn’t love Major Dobbin and doesn’t want to stop being a widow; but she likes having Dobbin around as a fallback and convenient escort. At one point it looks like Dobbin might be getting interested in another woman (after years of being in love with Amelia and getting nothing for it), and Amelia gets all upset and possessive. She still doesn’t want Dobbin, but she doesn’t want to lose her fallback.

                    3. Okay, that’s just ridiculously selfish and entitled. I’ve never thought of any of my male (and female) friends that way and I am protective enough of them that I would be rather angry if any of them were used that way. Though I suppose that ‘selfish and entitled’ really just does explain it, doesn’t it?

                    4. I canna recall what I was watching that had a clip of some pop song by a woman telling her guy to buy expensive bling for her because “I’m worth it” as if that were sufficient justification.

                      Needless to say, not a sentiment familiar among the folks with whom I spend my time.

                      My kind of people wear t-shirts of this type, not bling.

                    5. I am embarrassed by the behavior of my own sex from the sheer number of times it happens.

                      When I look around me I often find myself embarrassed to be a member of the human race.

                      Then I consider that there are plenty who think I am one of those people who make them reflect similarly — that is if they do reflect at all. Yeah, I know, I know. Now get off my lawn!

                    6. Since about…what….11?

                      (Years, not the time.)

                      I can remember having “you gotta be kidding. Get off my lawn” responses since I was quite young.

              2. They might have only been in polite situations– there is the tendency in at least some Asian cultures for the women to be publicly submissive to their husband, and save the ear-bending for private. It keeps him from having to deal with embarrassing situations in public, keeps the dirty laundry out of sight.

                Heck, I know a couple of messed up guys who didn’t ever figure that out about their own mothers. “Mom is always publicly deferring to dad, so she must be submissive” and then they can’t figure out why they can’t find a lady who WILL do absolutely everything their way, with never a question.
                (Folks make the same mistake about my folks, but the other way around. Dad had to step up and take over often enough to deal with folks that I learned to identify some of the… I don’t know… it’s like you can usually TELL that the guy is thinking about what his wife wants even while he’s acting like it’s all his idea. The guy being The One In Charge just works better most of the time.)

                1. Ooooh yeah. I’m sure that there are very subtle signals and looks that the husband understands he’s in Trouble later, once he notices his wife directing them at him. The children might not necessarily understand those looks because they’re not the overt “You are soooooo getting scolded/spanked when we get home!” ones the kids get.

                  And not embarrassing your husband when he’s put his foot in it and talking to him later is one of the many ways you show you love your husband and keep his pride/face intact. I personally don’t like seeing a missus embarrass her husband in public.

                  Traditionally the best kind of Asian wife/woman is the one who gets her husband to do everything she wants while making it seem like it was his idea and her children to behave without making it super obvious. It’s a bit of a dying art.

                  1. The underlying purpose of this dynamic is to protect the unity of the family bond of husband/wife one flesh. It is even more basic than me against my brother, my brother and me against …

                    That the political ideology which is most actively promoting tribalism should be engaged in destroying this dynamic would seem ironic except that they are working to make the tribe the basic unit and thus need to destroy family bonds. Or perhaps tribalism is the wrong descriptive, as their goal seems more like the one at the core of street gangs.

                    1. Nope, ‘tribalism’ is the right one.

                      Someone who marries outside of the tribe is still supposed to favor the tribe over their husband/wife.

                      Another way the “leave your father and mother and cling to your wife” thing was odd.

                2. Somewhere, I read this comment that the reason that Men are in charge of the Family is to prevent all-out war between the Wife and the outside world. 👿 👿 👿 👿

                3. “there is the tendency in at least some Asian cultures for the women to be publicly submissive to their husband, and save the ear-bending for private”

                  Makes sense in a consensus culture; family first and foremost, individual down the ladder a bit. Don’t make the family/clan/village look bad to anyone outside it.

              3. Married 43 years now to an Asian woman (2nd generation American born Chinese), and any “submissive asian” notions I might have entertained at any time were quite firmly suppressed by getting to know any and all of her many aunties. And every single one a lovely person, and their daughters in their train.

            2. *considering he lives with me, ‘submissive’ isn’t how he’d describe Asian women,…

              Good thing I know better than to eat or drink while reading anything here, but particularly comments from you, among a few others, but I still nearly inhaled a cough drop just then. 🙂

              1. *chuckle!* Sorry.

                He does find Asian women more physically attractive (and he likes that they don’t find being feminine and pretty as some kind of insult to their existence) but he only looks.

                I’m the Odd female friend who’ll randomly link him a picture of a pretty Japanese cosplayer coz I think she looks hot. XD

          2. Hanging out with virgins has always made unicorns suspect in my eyes. After all in the sage words of Conan the Barbarian “Virgins are boring” (read once in a Savage Swords of Conan story)

        2. Well, sure, they’d have to be volunteers, if anyone could convince them to volunteer, that is. Attempted coercion of unicorns has a name. I believe that name is “suicide.” Yeah, there’s supposedly the Virgin Exemption… but that’s more a comment on the relative rarity of ‘bait’ than of unicorns.

          1. So if one tried to use their sexual purity to lure in a unicorn to be coerced, and got themselves kicked into space as a result, would that make them Virgin Galactics?

        1. I especially like the diagram on that page of the various cuts of meat.

          It illustrates the Skittles slogan of “taste the rainbow” perfectly.

  11. It’s likely that slavery wouldn’t have gone away until mechanical cotton harvesting became a thing

    And cotton harvest was one of the more difficult agricultural processes to mechanize. Wheat and other small grains were easy — McCormick’s reaper predates the Civil War, and arguably helped the North win it by freeing the labor that had been previously tied up in the harvest. Mechanically picking corn (maize) is a little more tricky, but corn pickers became common by the 1920’s.

    Harvesting cotton by machine required a completely different approach than any grain crop. Unlike an ear of corn, a cotton boll is a relatively fragile structure, and can’t just be snapped off the plant without damaging the cotton fiber. The practical cotton picker uses long, finger-like spindles moistened with water to pull the cotton fiber out of the boll — a technology that wasn’t developed until the 1960’s.

    Somewhere in my papers I have notes for a steampunk story about a genius inventor developing cotton picker technology in the Gilded Age. It never went anywhere, but someday I may pull it back out — although even then he’d be up against the fact that the cotton plants of the time did not mature all their bolls at the same time. Modern mechanically picked cotton is also selectively bred to have all their bolls mature at once, and to be tall enough to facilitate mechanical picking.

      1. An interesting and complex point. The existence of slaves dictates efforts to find economically productive deployment of such assets, yet deployment of these assets is not necessarily economically optimal.

        A case in point can be found in Richmond, Virginia, in the Tredegar Iron Works.

        As Wikipedia notes, “By the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, half of the 900 workers were slaves, including many in skilled positions.” Skilled labor requires the willing application of those skills, a willingness hardly encouraged by maltreatment. A review of the treatment of such workers generally finds economic incentives and respectful treatment comparable to that accorded free men.

        Beyond that, if one examines the patterns in “Free” states’ factories one often finds abuses comparable or even worse than those accorded slaves — who were, if nothing else, somebody’s valued property, unlike the Irish or other ethnic groups providing the bulk of factory employees in the North.

        1. Bother – please close italics after somebody’s in the previous statement: “somebody’s valued property, unlike the Irish or other ethnic groups providing the bulk of factory employees in the North.”

            1. It is more a matter of my laptop’s keyboard being particularly ill-suited to my typing, causing my stroking of the > key to aft gang agley.

              I have also noticed a tendency for certain keystrokes to register as multiiiip;e strikes and for the ; to appear when I intended to give it ‘L.

              While I would lief blame WP for my transgressions, the fact remains: I am a marvelous speller but a fey typist.

              Posner, OTOH, is still a moron.

        2. In Stirling’s Island books, the major villain is lecturing his daughter about mistreating a stable slave and she’s basically taking the attitude of “he’s ONLY a slave”. His response is that it would be easier on him to free them all and let them be responsible for their own food and shelter, but he can’t get them to adopt the necessary work patterns on their own without forcing it, and so he has to keep them as slaves and in condition to work, both physically and mentally.

          1. And he’s about as pure a sociopath as I’ve run across in fiction outside of Stirling’s Draka. Am I the only one sensing a pattern?

        3.         The allegedly terrible working conditions of Northern factories were in large part Southern propaganda.

          When John Quincy Adams died as a member of the House of Representatives, a delegation of all parties and regions accompanied the body back to Massachusetts for the funeral. A Southern congressman remarked that the several factory towns he passed through were nothing like he’d expected, based on the horror stories he’d read and heard.

          1. Regardless of how terrible those conditions were or weren’t, the fact is people flocked to them from the farms, and stayed there, meaning that they were an improvement on farm life.

            1. In those pre industrial days a farmer’s workday was first light to last light and by lantern or candle light when circumstances demanded.
              A factory worker might put in a ten or twelve hour day six days a week at most. And no sick livestock or predator attacks to call him from a warn bed at all hours. And for his efforts he was awarded money which would buy food and other goods neither he nor his family had to manufacture themselves.
              Some people are natural born farmers. These days they are part of either a huge mechanized operation or have day jobs.

        4. Thomas Sowell repeats an anecdote of the ante-bellum era: loading a barge, the blacks would throw the bales down, and the Irish would stow them. Asked about the racial division of labor, the overseer explained that the owners were apt to make a fuss if their slaves were knocked into the water and drowned, or had their backs broken.

    1. Question: Where does cotton strippers come in (no jokes, please)? That’s a technology used out west that removes the entire plant and separates the boll. I may have seen a field where one was used, but that’s all.

      Note: There was more care in the use of the first cotton combines. They left enough “flags” that our class raised money by gleaning, but the amount of waste today is staggering. We used to say it was run through too fast or they were trying to be cheap with the spindles that pulled off the boll. Every time I see it, I wonder if a tracked robot similar to a Roomba ™ would be more cost effective. If it could correctly identify the boll, you could save money on defoliant, too.

      1. Dang, Kevin – another question that’s going to nag me, and would take way too much time to find the answer for. You would think that modern combines would be more efficient.

        Hypothesis – change in the plants that doesn’t let the “old tech” pick it, and the requirements to get the same efficiency would not be cost-effective, considering that the output yield per plant is now higher? Best I can come up with…

        (And now I am imagining the ‘splody heads if the manufacturer of the “Cottonba” dared to offer them in “basic black.”)

        1. Actually, the use of defoliant should make the process more efficient. They weren’t used when the first combines hit the area. Bolls are boll, and a poor year you get low cotton in plant height and in a good one high cotton. Honestly? I think it’s operators that don’t care, and the cost of diesel and maintenance verses slowing it down and doing a better job.

          1. Are acres per gallon or acres between maintenance all that different between “slow and careful” and “fast and sloppy?” (I dunno, myself – there’s a lot more going on with a combine than any car I’ve ever had…).

            Had a thought, maybe wrong, it’s from John Ringo and wheat farmers – but are cotton harvests contracted out like grain? One or two fewer contract day charges could make a difference enough to give a better profit margin on “fast and sloppy.” (Again, blank look and “I dunno…” there.)

          2. I seem to remember hearing that before they had cotton bred to open all at once they used some kind of chemical to achieve the same effect.

        2. It could be something as simple as it costing less to “waste” a lot of cotton than you could make with technically more efficient methods.

          Was that way with corn for a long time– it cost less to mechanically harvest and then rent the fields out for cows to glean than it did to use more efficient methods.

      1. I suspect it took a while to penetrate the market, just because in the poorest cotton areas it would have initially been more expensive than paying people to pick.

        Of course, once one was invented, complete mechanization was inevitable.

    2. Cotton is one of the more difficult natural fibers to harvest – which is one of the reason why it remained a luxury fabric until the US cotton economy with its use of slaves to minimize the biggest cost brought the price down, right along with the first hints of the Industrial Revolution bringing in mills that could process huge amounts of raw material and turn them into cloth.

      1. Hard to grow, harder yet to harvest, and incredibly hard to do the essential separation of cotton fiber from cotton seeds. And both must be protected from damage during the process. Broken fibers are useless, and broken seeds cannot be processed for cotton seed oil or planted for next year’s crop.
        But what made the huge difference in world cotton production was a little invention by one Eli Whitney called the cotton gin, a means to mechanically separate seed from fiber. That alone created a demand for large cotton plantations, which in turn created a need for cheap labor to feed the system. As is typical, one invention caused unintended consequences that another series of inventions were needed to remedy.

        1. Discarded cotton picker spindles often ended up in the staple bucket because they made great spikes to drive up staples high enough to remove with a claw hammer. These worn spindles were smooth and highly polished. The new ones aren’t. That says something about raw cotton fiber.

              1. Same principle as flax. You ret (that is to say, rot) the stalks to get off the outer husk to get to the fiber.

            1. Nettles do make a pretty nice fiber, similar to linen.

              And just about as much, or more, work to get from growing plant to yarn as linen, but it’s starting to pick up again. Ramie is a member of the nettle family.

        2. And it was something Eli Whitney whipped up quickly and was rooked of the monetary gains. Which leads to him heading to the northern states and creating a firearm assembly process that was replicable and easy to repair. So from what I have read his inventiveness extended slavery and also ended it since his designs on muzzle loaders enabled the northern states to be more efficient in arming the Union army.

          I may be wrong here but the southern slave states were on the down trend financially before the cotton gin made the use and continued use of slave labour feasible again.

          1. From what I’ve heard, you’re correct about the cotton gin keeping the Southern economies from going under.

    1. DItto. And you never know when someone’s going to post something that you never knew before.

    2. Or relearn something. See above – I know the clause about 1808, and it still sticks in my head for some reason as the “end of slave importation” clause (literally, not practically). Sigh. Must be an early civics teacher to blame, or so I claim.

        1. And “Civility” means them doling out blood libel and you not responding in any way.
          Essentially all their positions and definitions are now “Shut Up I Said!”

      1. “And tomorrow, we’ll negotiate for half of the half you have left. And day after tomorrow…”

        1. Note that this makes deferred gratification a losing strategy. You need to consume everything as soon as you get it or it will be taken. A less violent form of this is what creates the “crab bucket” effect among low income people.

    1. One of my pet peeves is when someone says they want a compromise, you say you’re willing to talk about it, you propose your starting position, and then they respond with someone so far beyond what anyone reasonable (or even themselves) would consider a compromise. All because their true desire is in the middle of your position and their batcrap insane position. Basically, they have no wish to compromise but want to be seen as coming to a compromise and try to portray you as recalcitrant when you’re unwilling to come to the ‘middle’ (which is their true and real position).

      An example at one of my first jobs. There were a bunch of young guys in an area doing a packing job, most of whom were metal fans, and would listen to metal as they worked. The inspectors (who also worked in the same area) were not metal fans and wanted the metal gone. Not totally reasonable but you can work with that. Proposed compromise was that the metal albums were no longer allowed but the packers could pick any radio station (there was no metal station but there was a rock station). The guys were annoyed but were willing to compromise and agree but the inspectors decided that they would push for the country station but not by asking for the country station (which some of the guys wouldn’t have minded and might have gone through) but by asking for the Lite station. Abba and the like. There was no way the metal guys would, or even could agree to that, so they said no and the bosses were tired of the argument so said that if they didn’t come to an agreement the radio would be taken away.

      Country it was.

      For two weeks. The guys got so ticked they just switched to the rock station and dared management to fire them for it and the inspectors backed down (and from my understanding got a talking to since they’d been making nasty comments about how they’d won in those two weeks).

        1. Hey! I like country – in appropriate doses. Metal, classic, even, GASP! Abba and John Denver. Almost anything (gangsta, no; rap is a very limited dose – micrograms…)

          Of course, what I listen to most involves cats being strangled (before anyone misinterprets that – bagpipes).

          1. There’s country and then there’s country. Some of the new artists sound like they were dropped on their heads and failed speech therapy. Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams Sr. and Jr., Charlie Daniels, and Boxcar Willie are some of my favorites. In the 1980s, Willie Nelson did a song with a verse “Are There Any More Real Cowboys?” that was good, but I haven’t heard it since.

          2. There’s country that I do find pretty good, and then there’s that whiny stuff. Alas, for a while at least, the whiny stuff dominated. One person I worked with once upon a time insisted on listening to that constantly. Also said to be depressed. Didn’t like my analysis. I was convinced that such country was promoted in some way by pharmaceutical companies in order to increase antidepressant sales.

            1. I despised the Nashville sound, although I didn’t know that was what it was until I started hearing things like this kid …

              Turn it on, turn it up, turn me loose.

          3. For some reason what comes to mind:

            The sound of bagpipes resembles geese being rudely and violently punched. If you happen to live in an area deemed a bird sanctuary that has been occupied by Canadian Geese, as I do, you will come to believe that the geese have thoroughly earned said treatment.

            I always used the descriptor strangling cats for certain kinds of jazz. The kind where the sound of the woodwinds and sax makes you think that the players are squeezing something more than their last dying breath out through their instruments.

            This aside, I happen to like bagpipe music, but I have rather eclectic taste in music.

            1. I allow as I one day shocked Beloved Spouse by observing that our younger selves would have been apalled to know that someday our favorite music would involve polkas (Tex-Mex, Cajun and Celtic), accordions and bagpipes.

              Younger selves were silly. I sympathize with auld Donald; mirds and mockery always leave me mumpit, too.

            1. That version of “industrial” amuses me for the wrong reason. I think of the syncopation of a couple punch presses and it’s far more ‘musical’ to me than most Industrial – and that’s from actual industry!

  12. I simply ask them if they wanted the group affected by the 3/5ths rule counted as a whole person, and if they do (they usually do) I ask them why they are pro-slavery. Because I’m evil.

      1. Unfortunately, the point sails over their heads at orbital velocities, which is a bit annoying.

          1. It’s more that they’re trying to preserve the echo chamber between their ears, and adding facts would totally wreck the acoustics.

            1. I suspect Scott Adams would argue that the cognitive dissonance generated by contrary facts prevents the facts from embedding, but I like your phrasing best.

  13. I often want to share these blog posts on FB, but am never sure if widely sharing them is a good idea. I don’t want to attract some of the more annoying people who ‘follow’ me to the comments section.

    1. You are welcome to share anything I’ve posted here. “Interesting” commenters will usually get a chance to see how they handle polite corrections of fact (unless they come barging in half-cocked, miss the point, and show all the points from the Internet Argument Checklist in their first post. Then they get mocked).

      If they prove to be excessively trollish, they get to join the highly exclusive banned list (most of which is aliases of one particularly obnoxious troll).

      1. Thanks.

        I don’t like to ‘invite’ people who might not play nice, into someone else’s house. Even if they would get stomped.


    2. There are commenters who enjoy whack-a-troll. I don’t, usually, because I have to be in just the right frame of mind to produce anything both accurate and reasonably well-written to dispute them, but other people are much better at it.

  14. I ran into this with a friend of the kids, who thought it was due to a perceived estimate of worth of a black vs a white. I explained it this way:

    When it came time to decide the number of representatives in the House, the Southern states said “All right: It’s based on population, so that includes our slaves.”

    The Northern states went “Now hold on here: They’re slaves. You treat them as property. Now you want to count them as citizens? Uh-uh: Not going to happen.”

    So they hemmed and they hawed and came to a compromise: Slaves counted as 3/5 of the free population in setting the number of seats each state had in the house of Representatives.

    This glossed over a good bit of history, but my point was to give them a feel for the issue and to torpedo that mem that it was an estimation of worth. It was also illuminating that Southern states wanted to count them and the Northern states didn’t. I also mentioned that free blacks were counted the same as free whites. This explanation also seemed to work well on a Middle School level.

    Honestly: I do not know where this mem came from. It didn’t exist when I came through school, and our kids never encountered it.

      1. Now Mr. Nelson, while there are issues with Dr. Bell’s version, my corrected version is not offensive to any right thinking person. I recognize that one need not be white to be a white supremacist, and that the politicians closest to minority population concentrations are in the best position to be responsible for so called ‘societal’ white supremacism.

    1. That’s a wonderful kid-level explanation that gets the gist of it across without overcomplicating things and without losing the underlying truth.

  15. OT question – How far back can one post new comments? Reason I ask is that I had a comment that would have been perfect in the post-election Schadenfreude thread, but comments/replies there are apparently no longer welcome.

    1. I’m not sure – Sarah or Amanda would likely know. I do know older posts and sometimes posts with really huge comment threads don’t accept comments.

    2. Seems to be two weeks. Today, 11/25, 11/11 will post later has comments, and 11/10 M. Hoyt’s First Election does not.

      1. Two weeks is pretty standard – call it the memory limit. I don’t know how many threads I used to run into on Baen’s Bar that I had no idea what they were about, and then found half a dozen of my own comments in it…

  16. It’s likely that slavery wouldn’t have gone away until mechanical cotton harvesting became a thing – and became cheaper than housing and feeding slaves.

    Agriculture is hard to mechanize. My grandfathers plowed with mules in the early 20th Century. My father plowed with mules and went to a two-row tractor in the 1950s. I grew up with a two-row tractor and some mule-drawn equipment. Now two-row tractors are a thing of the past.

    I remember picking cotton by hand. I also remember the introduction of the combine. I have topped and picked tobacco, placing the leaves in a sled, and have helped make tobacco sleds. When the tractor-pulled “tobacco harvesters” came on the scene, we thought it was the trick because we could ride and pick cotton. And we had a shade. We were uptown now!

    My point? Agriculture was labor intensive well into the 20th Century. It’s still labor intensive. Cotton is just one crop of many. It gets the attention because it was the cash crop until the boll weevil came up “just looking for a home.” Agricultural slavery likely would have lasted into the mid 20th Century, because there was very little difference between how my father farmed before he bought a tractor and his great-grandfather farmed in the 1870s.

    1. “My grandfathers plowed with mules in the early 20th Century.”

      My late grandfather was plowing some things with a mule as recently as 1980. The mule wouldn’t step on things like squash or melons, IIRC.

        1. Back when I was going to Army tech school, my classroom had a series of artist’s conceptions of the use of nuclear explosives for civil engineering. Things like creating a good-sized artificial harbor out of a bare rock coastline.

    2. Yes, exactly. Now all we need is someone to memeify “Without the 3/5 compromise slavery would have lasted until the 1950s” and watch the fur fly….

      1. Isn’t clear that we would have had 1950s tech in the 1950s had slavery prospered in the US. Slavery contributed to being a drug on Roman tech development, so potentially an issue. On the other hand, I think the corruption integral to segregation impoverished the South, which may have weakened its relevance as an internal market for equipment. On the gripping hand, ‘if slavery had continued’ may be so big an if that it makes unclear the state of immigration into free areas, which is potentially relevant to progress of science and industry.

        1. All sharecropping amounted to was indentured servitude or serfdom. By that criteria we pretty much did have slavery until the 1950s.

          1. It may have been “worse” from a material standpoint. From the standpoint of self-determination, nothing is worse than being property.

            I credit a sharecropper who had been a slave with mentoring one of my grandparents, helping him stay a tenant farmer instead of slipping to sharecropper status. One of the things he taught his grandchildren was never owe money to your employer. Ever.

            1. Sharecropping as a concept isn’t evil, but many (possibly most) implementations of it were.

              The Company Store/Company Town concept has similar problems.

              If run by good people they are not a problem, but they provide a high temptation to push things out of balance to make a little more money due tot he extremely low risk and relatively high reward.

              As such, these systems work only until you get a bad person in power.

              If you combine these with debtor’s prison, or other means that prevent someone from leaving (which could also be geographic boundaries) the result can devolve into something that’s effectively slavery, without even the limited ‘valuable possession’ protection.

              1. The first time I heard about the Company Store was when my high school US History teacher talked about it. And he also explained why having a store that didn’t allow you to spend your entire pay check on alcohol before your wife had a chance to buy the groceries for the pay period was a good thing.

                Some of his own ancestors had apparently been caught up in something similar. He mentioned something about them being part of the Mexican peon system, and then being abandoned by their masters in the middle of the desert, and not having the courtesy to die of heat exhaustion and dehydration before finding their way to the nearest town.

              2. In one respect, the most biting criticism of the USSR was made in The God That Failed: the USSR was just a company town on a grand and very difficult to escape scale.

                (Being written in a time when company towns were the iconic “abuse of capitalism” in Communist literature.)

        2. Of course there’s also a non-zero chance a slave-state dominated USA would have sided with the Nazis leading to a very different 1950s.

          1. Well, a Slave-State dominated US would be so very different than Our US that it’s hard to imagine what its world would be like.

            A completely different US would result in a World, including Europe, extremely different from our own.

            I really doubt that that world would have a WW1 similar to our WW1 and might not even have an Adolph Hitler let alone a Nazi Germany. 😉

            1. One of the possibly earliest alternate histories ever written was McKinley Cantor’s “If the South Had Won the Civil War” in 1961 which postulated that slavery wouldn’t have lasted another generation simply because there were enough Southerners bothered by it that once the “you’re not the boss of me” attitude wore off with winning they realized it was wrong not to mention uneconomic.
              But that’s close enough to forbidden territory.

        3. I disagree, because it was efficiency and yield that drove mechanization, not lack of workers. As a case in point, consider it took me a day to hoe a small plot. A simple push cultivator cut the time in half. A tiller cut it down ever further. I could have done the entire spot with a two-row tractor in moments. A modern rig could do it in less than a minute, if the rows were laid out right.

          That’s efficiency. That means you have less people to do the work. For our world, that means you fork out less wages. For an alternate history, that means less slaves and upkeep to product the same crops.

          1. Mechanization of agriculture maybe. The start of the industrial revolution predates the unpleasantness, sure. There’s been at least one prior society that had a lot of the pieces of the industrial revolution, yet didn’t put it together. (IIRC, Song dynasty China was one.) Probably there are societal and regulatory conditions which can retard or prevent innovation.

            Yes, the rest of the world had a hand in the innovation that advanced the state of machine production and agricultural mechanization. If the US had a big enough share that societal differences could retard advancement a decade per century, 1940s tech in the 1950s would fit the possibility I originally raised.

    3. Not only was Agriculture labor-intensive, slavery was capital intensive. Slaves entail 365 days a year of expenses and may be only truly useful for a month or two if that time.

      Most of the Southern plantations were deeply in debt:

      Conquest, Conflict, and Struggles for Equality: An Economic History of the United States
      Frederick S. Weaver – 2015 – ‎Business & Economics
      Like most agriculturists, Southern planters depended heavily on credit; they borrowed … manumission meant that the plantations were exposed to foreclosure. … their young male workforce to the army during the war were also deeply in debt.

      While many slaveholders would rent out their slaves to other economic entities, that entailed significant risks and did not always return much profit beyond the shifting of the board expense to an other party.

    4. I was lucky in that I was able to know my grandfather fairly well. He would talk about his time working and living on the family farm. Hasn’t been in the family for decades now. Born in 1903 and he worked it hard before going of to university and eventually mission work. After one family funeral he took everyone on a tour of the area he grew up in. (Southern Ontario and what had become tobacco country then). Arrived at the old farm and there was this huge oak beam lying in the drive way. Had to have been at least 50′ long. He looked at it and said this was the beam for the new barn they raised and he had help adze it by hand. I know the life he lived before schooling was rough. His nose had been broken a couple of times from work accidents. Big problem with most of the modern generation is that they don’t realize how close we are to the manual labour era.

  17. It puzzles me that proposals to remedy fake news do not start with murdering Dan Rather. Remember, if you have any difference of opinion with Sherman on Reporters, you are a white supremacist who wants to bring back slavery.

    1. That would be because he hardly has a single accomplishment … at least not one that has not already turned “tits up” so obviously that denying its failure is a mark of dementia.

      1. Reviving white supremacism, reestablishing the cold war, revitalizing Islamic terrorism, that damned energy policy… Who am I to say the other millennials have bad taste?

    1. Twas grand new to wake up to this morning.
      Been a pretty good month, this November of 2016.
      too bad all the leftoid butthurt isn’t over a better president.
      But, more leftoid tears as one of their beloved murdering bastards has slipped the plane

    2. Casto unexpectedly displayed a sense of humor during the 2000 US election, when he offered to send Cuban troops to prevent tampering with the vote counting in Florida.

      I ROFLed for a week over that. Well, I’m easily amused…

    3. I saw him (fuzzilly – no glasses on at the gym) on CNN this AM and wondered if CNN would go to the slow classical music and wall-to-wall pictures of the Heroic Dictator Liberating the Proletariat, like the Soviet news channels always did. I may have to make black beans-n-rice with mango to celebrate. 🙂

      1. Oh my, yes, thank you for the idea. That would be a great way to celebrate. I am salivating at the thought of Frijoles Negros Pascuales … but served up with Salsa Roja Para Frijoles Negros.

      1. Wait! I am assured by Pamela Geller (who previously asserted that Obama is not a natural born citizen because he is Kenyan) that Obama is the illegitimate son of MALCOLM X. Because in her expert new opinion, he doesn’t look Kenyan.

  18. “We’ve all heard the people who wrote the Constitution of the United States dismissed with a flip comment about how much modern people can trust someone who thought blacks were worth three-fifths of a person.”

    Basically the fools who believe that are the same fools who think the US is the fount of all evil and the world would be better of if it never had existed. If you point out that if the US had never existed that they, pretty much everyone in the US, most people in the Americas and Europe and many people around the world now living would not exist. Lol, and then sit back and watch the gears whirling and the smoke issuing.

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