Mon 16 Feb, 2004 10:31 am
Author Gary Wills asked himself the question: How did the South acquire and maintain its power from the beginning of our Republic until the Civil Way given that the South's population was much smaller than the North's? The answer is the 3/5 slave population count in the Constitution and how it was used through the Electoral College. The 3/5 provision stacked the cards in favor of the South in every instance, effectively disenfranchising the North's population---BBB
"Negro President" : Jefferson and the Slave Power
by Garry Wills
In "Negro President," the best-selling historian Garry Wills explores a controversial and neglected aspect of Thomas Jefferson's presidency: it was achieved by virtue of slave "representation," and conducted to preserve that advantage.
Wills goes far beyond the recent revisionist debate over Jefferson's own slaves and his relationship with Sally Heming to look at the political relationship between the president and slavery. Jefferson won the election of 1800 with Electoral College votes derived from the three-fifths representation of slaves, who could not vote but who were partially counted as citizens. That count was known as "the slave power" granted to southern states, and it made some Federalists call Jefferson the Negro President -- one elected only by the slave count's margin.
Probing the heart of Jefferson's presidency, Wills reveals how the might of the slave states was a concern behind Jefferson's most important decisions and policies, including his strategy to expand the nation west. But the president met with resistance: Timothy Pickering, now largely forgotten, was elected to Congress to wage a fight against Jefferson and the institutions that supported him. Wills restores Pickering and his allies' dramatic struggle to our understanding of Jefferson and the creation of the new nation.
In "Negro President," Wills offers a bold rethinking of one of American history's greatest icons.
Editorial Reviews - Amazon.com
Garry Wills' "Negro President": Jefferson and the Slave Power, despite its title, is not a profile of the Jefferson Presidency. Rather, the book offers a richly detailed study of the United States' tragic constitutional bargain with slavery, and meanders through the lives of several key figures in antebellum American history along the way.
While Thomas Jefferson does play a significant role in Wills' book, the real heroes are the relatively unknown abolitionist Timothy Pickering and, to a lesser degree, John Quincy Adams. Pickering offered a consistent voice of opposition to Jefferson's often secret campaign against Federalist power. Though he could never match Jefferson's charismatic persona, Pickering succeeded in his battle to undo Jefferson's embargo of England--an embargo that Pickering recognized as Jefferson's attempt to undermine the economic prosperity and power of the North. Pickering's ill-fated attempt to secede from the Union, while misguided, would fuel the latter-day abolitionist John Quincy Adams to threaten a similar revolution as the Civil War loomed.
Ultimately, "Negro President" is a book that recovers slavery as a context for understanding early American political life. At times Willis focuses too much on Jefferson, Pickering, or Adams, and the discussion is derailed by his fascination for the moral successes and failures of each personality. Nevertheless, the book addresses a long-neglected subject in American studies and will prove invaluable to readers interested in understanding America's early struggle to balance Northern versus slave-state power. --Patrick O'Kelley
From Publishers Weekly:
While Pulitzer-winner Wills (Lincoln at Gettysburg, etc.) rarely writes a book without a distinctive take on its subject, in this shaggy work he's off his game. Originally a set of lectures, this book is only loosely stitched together. Its author is typically combative, but he doesn't stay on subject long, writing instead about what suddenly strikes him. Not that the work doesn't show Wills's characteristic keen intelligence. He bears down hard, for example, on the permeating consequences of the... read more
The Congress of the United States (and, in consequence, the Electoral College) was stacked in favor of the Southern states right from the begining. The North had more eligible voters, but the South was actually more populous if you counted the slaves. The question arose early on as to whether slaves could be counted or not, as they had no rights of any sort, let alone the voting franchise. This was settled by deciding to count each slave as three-fifths of a human being, i.e. three slaves = five free white men. Thus the South had representation in Congress far out of proportion to its voting bloc. This may seem incredible today but, apparently, no one thought there was anything wrong with this hypocritical arrangement back in Antebellum days.
Merry Andrew wrote:
This was settled by deciding to count each slave as three-fifths of a human being, i.e. three slaves = five free white men.
Either your history is wrong or your math is: the equation is five slaves = three free whites.
Merry Andrew wrote:
Thus the South had representation in Congress far out of proportion to its voting bloc. This may seem incredible today but, apparently, no one thought there was anything wrong with this hypocritical arrangement back in Antebellum days.
Actually, a lot of people thought it was wrong and hypocritical. You might start with William Lloyd Garrison.
Who was William Lloyd Garrison?
Who was William Lloyd Garrison?
It's my math, joe, it's my math. I'm so bad at it I actually carry a little pocket-size calculator wherever I go because I'd never be able to figure out if I'm getting the right change back otherwise. And, of course, there were Abolitionists right from the start who opposed slavery and the hypocisy of those who wrote the Constitution. My point was that this hypocricy was widespread enough to get the three-fifths definition of a black person actually written into the US Constitution.