GOP Lawmaker Says Three-Fifths Compromise Was Necessary To Founding Of US

Tennessee Republican Justin Lafferty basically agreed with the Three-Fifths Compromise on Tuesday (May 3) from the state’s House Floor. He called the Constitutional agreement established in 1787 a “bitter bitter pill” that was necessary to the establishment of the American government system we have today. 

“By limiting the number of population in the count,” Lafferty said, referring to the part of the compromise that only allowed enslaved Black people to be counted as three-fifths of a human being, a move that he said the founding fathers did to create fairer representation in government.

The compromise he said, “specifically limited the number of representatives that would be available in the slaveholding states, and they did it for the purpose of ending slavery –– well before Abraham Lincoln, well before the Civil War.” 

Lafferty made his arguments during a debate about what will be taught to students in the state’s schools. His comments offended Antonio Parkinson, a Democratic lawmaker from Memphis, who said the applause from others after Lafferty’s remarks only added to the offense. 

“I thought it was horrible,” Parkinson, who is also the chairman of the Black Caucus in the Tennessee House, told The New York Times. Parkinson told the outlet that defending any policy that upheld slavery and dehumanized Black people was impossible. “I don’t care if it’s policy or how you’re counting heads, there is nothing good about slavery.” 

The Three-Fifths Compromise was recently brought up in the Colorado state legislative body after Rep. Ron Hanks made a joke about lynching before going on to defend the compromise, describing it as a strategy for government representation and that it “did not impugning anybody’s humanity.” 

Conservative lawmakers have condemned the teaching of critical race theory in classrooms, some calling out works like The 1619 Project by award-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, because they believe it unfairly paints America’s founding as racist. 

Photo: Getty Images 

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