Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3

[Volume 2, Page 126]

Document 12

A Republican Federalist, no. 5

19 Jan. 1788Storing 4.13.22

Let is now proceed to the provision in the system for a representation of the people, which is the corner stone of a free government. The Constitution provides, art. 1st, sect. 2, "that representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States, which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons." Representatives then are to be "apportioned among the several States, according to their respective numbers," and five slaves, in computing those numbers, are to be classed with three freemen--By which rule, fifty thousand slaves, having neither liberty or property, will have a representative in that branch of the legislature--to which more especially will be committed, the protection of the liberties, and disposal of all the property of the freemen of the Union--for thus stands the new Constitution. Should it be said, that not the slaves but their masters are to send a representative, the answer is plain--If the slaves have a right to be represented, they are on a footing with freemen, three of whom can then have no more than an equal right of representation with three slaves, and these when qualified by property, may elect or be elected representatives, which is not the case: But if they have not a right to be represented, their masters can have no right derived from their slaves, for these cannot transfer to others what they have not themselves. Mr. Locke, in treating of political or civil societies, chap. 7, sect. 85, says, that men "being in the state of slavery, not capable of any property, cannot, in that state, be considered as any part of civil society, the chief end whereof, is the preservation of property." If slaves, then, are no part of civil society, there can be no more reason in admitting them, than there would be in admitting the beasts of the field, or trees of the forest, to be classed with free electors. What covenant are the freemen of Massachusetts about to ratify? A covenant that will degrade them to the level of slaves, and give to the States who have as many blacks as whites, eight representatives, for the same number of freemen as will enable this State to elect five--Is this an equal, a safe, or a righteous plan of government? Indeed it is not. But if to encrease these objections, it should be urged, "that representation being regulated by the same rule as taxation, and taxation being regulated by a rule intended to ascertain the relative property of the States, representation will then be regulated by the principle of property." This answer would be the only one that could be made, for representation, according to the new Constitution is to be regulated, either by numbers or property.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 2, Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3, Document 12
The University of Chicago Press

Storing, Herbert J., ed. The Complete Anti-Federalist. 7 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.

© 1987 by The University of Chicago
All rights reserved. Published 2000