Tag Archive | slaves

Electoral College has roots in slavery

CALMLY RANDOM

Did you know the Electoral College has its roots in slavery? When crafting the Constitution, northern states wanted direct representation elections based on majority vote (white, adult male landowners). Southern states objected because they didn’t have as large a population as the North. Their slaves obviously couldn’t vote. Slaves were considered property, not people. The South could never win.

Thus they came up with the idea of a bicameral legislature. The Senate represents each state, rural or urban, with equal voting power (currently two senators for each state.) The House of Representatives gives larger populations more voting power through proportional representation. The two bodies together, Senate and House, make up our Congress.

The Electoral College was instituted to elect the President and Vice President. White, adult male landowners voted. But the Electoral College decided the vote. They created a patriarchy of educated men who would directly represent the results of the popular voting in an orderly fashion. This was thought necessary when it became law in 1780. Why? Because the voting regions were vast, most people had little or no education, and crime was mostly unchecked. The integrity of the popular vote could not be assured, nor could the judgment of the common man be relied upon. This was the thinking, which allowed Electoral College representatives to vote their conscience rather than directly representing their constituency. The 12th Amendment codified the Electoral College with the following deal:

A Bicameral legislature didn’t satisfy the South. Why? Because they still didn’t have the population to vote in their candidates. Now, if they counted their slaves as full people as the north wanted, they’d have the population but their federal tax load would be higher because their population was higher. But if slaves were counted strictly as property, there would be no voting advantage. They wouldn’t join the union without a deal. The North was so eager to complete the union that they agreed to count each slave as 3/5’s of a person. The South got a lower tax burden. And there was no change in the way slaves were considered property. And because there were half a million slaves in the South at the time, they ALSO got higher representation in the House and a greater number of Electoral College representatives.

Southern candidates thus had the advantage of additional representation in the Electoral College based on their “larger” population. The pro-slavery compromise resulted in the slave-owning South winning 32 of the first 36 years of the new presidency.

So if someone tells you that the Electoral College helps prevent the majority from tyrannizing the minority and that was its original intent, you can tell them that they’ve whitewashed history; that our country was built on the backs of slaves.