Home » constitution » Political Lingo: The Constitution Part II

Political Lingo: The Constitution Part II

It’s Me!



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This weekend will be historic! Blockbusting! Pensive. That is, of course if you’ve already decided to go see Director Steven McQueen’s Oscar-buzzed film, 12 Years a Slave. Oh yeah! Another movie about slavery is garnering national and international attention, but this time the story is a little bit different.

You see, this story is about a real life American from Saratoga Springs, NY named Solomon Northrup. He was a free man with a family, a wife and children. He was a musician. A fine violinist to be exact and he quickly became a part of America’s slavery parcel as a result of being kidnapped by slave catchers.

This film is not a fictional character named Django fulfilling the wishful thinking of every wronged person getting vigilante justice on the person (s) that wronged him. This film is about what was really allowed to happen under the law, the Constitution of the United States of America.

When the Framers met at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, there were several decisions that needed to be made before the Constitution was ratified or approved:

1. Would small and large states have the same representation in Congress? That answer was settled by the Great Compromise.

2. Would slave-holding states be allowed to count their enslaved population? The answer was yes, but not everybody.

After debate and a consolidation of ideas, James Madison’s Three-Fifths Compromise was adopted by the convention. This compromise meant only 3 of every 5 enslaved persons would be counted as a part of the slave-holders’ populations.

Southern states managed to garner 47 seats in the House of Representatives when the first Congress convened in 1790. The Three-Fifths Comprise was their dream manifested. They controlled the House and ultimately the laws that were made and not made.

Can you imagine honoring a law that counted you as only 3/5 of a human being? Which part of you would have to be left behind? It’s a silly question, but some persons had to consider it.

This entire debate is sounding way too familiar to the currently sitting 113th Congress today. The debate may no longer be states’ representation in Congress with regards to slavery, but we’re still debating states rights with regard to the people…only it’s the next generation hijacking the debate.

The Constitution is an intriguing document that has been used to liberate the individual and our nation. It says so in the Preamble. But, it has also served as a document that has been used to subjugate and enslave.

And once again, and thankfully, the Constitution is a living document that can be changed through amendments. It was through the Thirteenth Amendment that the Three-Fifths Amendment lost its credence and became obsolete.

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