Sunday, February 17, 2013

Emory and the 3/5 Compromise

I mentioned this on Twitter yesterday, but it really needs to be broadcast as widely as possible. The president of Emory University a) thinks the 3/5 Compromise was good; and b) thinks we need to use it as an example of how to fund--or really defund--liberal arts.

I've reread the thing and tried to be charitable in interpretation, but it's impossible: it is disgusting and really embarrassing for Emory University. Please read it and pass it along so it is less likely to be swept under the rug.


Chris Lawrence 3:53 PM  

I would say part b is indefensible. Part a, on the other hand, isn't really what he said. The delegates to the Constitutional Convention faced a choice: effect a compromise between the northern and southern states on issues of representation and (less well-remembered, but equally important in the context of the time) apportionment of taxes, or fail to reach a compromise and continue to muddle through with the Articles of Confederation, which (if we fast forward to the crisis over slavery in the 1850s) would not have provided for a national government with sufficient authority and resources to preserve the "perpetual union" it purported to found, thus inevitably leading to a successful secession of slave-holding states, even had the Articles survived that long. We can argue today that slavery should have been abolished in 1787, but it was a political-nonstarter (no state south of Pennsylvania would likely have ratified the Constitution had it abolished slavery, since all of them relied on large-scale slave labor) and no serious voice at the convention was calling for it. Given the choice between an enduring Union and a weak one, the delegates clearly made the superior choice.

csccat 6:50 AM  

There are so many examples in the story of the Constitutional Convention where delegates made a good choice for the ages....Connecticut Compromise? Bill of Rights? Sheesh! What was this guy thinking?

Greg Weeks 9:32 AM  

Here's more on it:

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