Although the United States of America became an independent nation in 1776, those “freed” Americans continued to enslave my ancestors for nearly 100 more years.
While I see the Declaration of Independence as irrelevant to me and my history, several measures were passed between 1776 and 1865 (when the Civil War concluded) that did have a bearing on the lives of my ancestors.
12th of July 1787 – Three-fifths Compromise
In 1787, 11 years after US independence, Delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia approved James Madison’s recommendation for determining a state’s representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Although northerners believed enslaved Black people should be regarded as property, warranting no representation in Congress, southerners argued that Black people enslaved in their states should be counted along with the whites (in an effort to increase southern representation rather than an acknowledgement of a Black person’s humanity).
The “Three-fifths Compromise” clause allowed a state to count three fifths of each Black person in determining political representation in the House. In political effect, a Black person was equal to three fifths of a white person.
This is a cross-post from my Ancestors unKnown blog. Visit Ancestors Blogging for the complete post.