See blacks were 3/5ths of a man with tax purposes intended

from Ras Kass – Nature of the Threat Lyrics on Rap Genius

Meaning

When the Constitution of the United States was being framed, there was a great debate over how to count slaves for the purposes of allotting proportional representation in Congress.

Ironically, it is the Southern states that wanted slaves counted as full persons — although the slaves would not be allowed to vote, the Southern states would boost their population totals by having the slaves counted as full persons, thereby giving slave states more power.

The Northern states reasonably argued that, since slaves were not allowed to vote and had no rights, it was ridiculous that they should be counted in the South’s population totals. This would give the slave states too much power.

The Three-Fifths Compromise was to count slaves as 3/5 persons for both tax and representation purposes.

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