What issues created the most debate and need for the 3/5 Compromise?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The Three-Fifths Compromise was the result of agreement among the delegates at the Constitutional Convention that there would be a house in the new Congress where each state would receive a number of representatives proportionate to its population. The debate about tax revenue from each state also played into the Three-Fifths Compromise, but the main issue was representation. This raised an important question. When a state's population was counted for the purpose of apportioning representatives, should the enslaved people in that state be counted? Southern states, especially Virginia and South Carolina, thought so, because this would result in their getting more representatives. Northern states were generally opposed to this measure, arguing that it would give the southern states a degree of political power disproportionate to their population. The delegates settled on the Three-Fifths Compromise, which essentially counted 3/5 of a state's enslaved population. This proportion was actually previously agreed upon, having been used in a debate over taxation under the Articles of Confederation. This decision was one of many expedient (if not necessarily moral) compromises made to address some of the most divisive issues at the Convention.

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