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James Wagner

The Three-Fifths Clause and the Founding in Contemporary Public Discourse

In recent days, a public storm has been brewing about Emory University President James Wagner’s column in the latest issue of his institution’s alumni magazine.  Wagner presents the Constitution’s three-fifths clause as a model of compromise from which we can still learn: One instance of constitutional compromise was the agreement to count three-fifths of the slave population for purposes of state representation in Congress. Southern delegates wanted to count the whole slave population, which would have given the South greater influence over national policy. Northern delegates argued that slaves should not be counted at all, because they had no vote. Read more