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Slave states and the electoral college

Saturday, November 26, 2016 18:31
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Bookworm clarifies some electoral college history.

…The three-fifths compromise operates in the context of the Electoral College but is, in fact, directed at the various states’ representation in the federal government overall. Here’s the deal: At the end of the Revolutionary War, three out of five of the most populous states in the Union were slave states, with Virginia leading the list. These Southern states wanted their vast numbers to apply to their control over the entire federal government, from the House to the means of voting for the president.

To maintain this dominance, though, slaves would have to be counted among the general population in the Southern states. The Northern states, of course, which had no slaves to swell their population, and which disapproved of slavery generally, were unwilling to give the Southern states absolute dominance. Their opposition to Southern dominance was strengthened by the indisputable fact that the Southern states were cheating by demanding that people without any civil rights be included in the tally for determining power in the new federal government.

Given the Southern states’ power within the fragile new nation, the only thing that the Northern states were able to reach a compromise that beat the Southern states down a bit. This compromise insisted that slaves not be counted according to their full number but, instead, be counted at three-fifths of their total number, thereby diluting somewhat the slave states’ power.

It was a lousy compromise but, under the circumstances, it was the best the non-slave states could do.

…That first lie about the three-fifths compromise leads to another lie, which is the contention that the compromise is the reason for the Electoral College in the first place. It isn’t. As Alexander Hamilton made perfectly clear, the Founders (perhaps anticipating Democrats and Progressives) deeply distrusted the masses. The Electoral college was a hedge against the passions, ignorance, and stupidity of the hoi polloi.

Read more here.


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    Partially true. It was also to balance the power of equal states joining the Union, and the population of larger states. Nobody living in farmland, or ranches wants people in the city to make the decisions for them. Small states should not be dominated by a few big cities. A balance was struck between mob rule, and State’s rights.

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