The United States is renowned as the greatest nation for freedom and individual rights in history. Our founders, recognizing that our freedom stems from God rather than government, enshrined this principle in the U.S. Constitution to safeguard our liberties. 

Before the U.S. Civil War, a powerful group emerged: the elite class of slave plantation owners. They formed the Democratic Party to wield political influence in favor of their own interests, disregarding the constitutional rights of Black Americans. 

As the Civil War loomed, these plantation owners gained dominance over the federal government, enticing many southern white men to join their ranks. Despite their immense power, some abolitionists advocated for the dissolution of the Union to absolve the nation from the stain of slavery. 

The ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865 was a watershed moment in American history, marking the official end of slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. This constitutional amendment solidified the nation's unwavering commitment to freedom and equality for all citizens. 

Five years earlier, Frederick Douglass delivered an influential speech in Glasgow, Scotland, titled "The Constitution of the United States: Is It Pro-Slavery or Anti-Slavery?" In this address, Douglass meticulously demonstrated that the U.S. Constitution was inherently anti-slavery. He emphasized that the term "slavery" does not appear anywhere in the Constitution, underscoring its fundamentally abolitionist principles. 

He also offered clarity on the matter of the Three-Fifths Clause, a perspective that significantly shaped my own understanding. 

As a graduate of Alabama A&M, a historically Black university, my liberal history professor taught me to interpret the Constitution’s Three-Fifths Clause as evidence that the founding fathers intended to perpetuate slavery, deeming Black individuals as only three-fifths of a person. 

But Douglass eloquently explained the true intent and significance of the Three-Fifths Clause: 

It is a downright disability laid upon the slaveholding States; one which deprives those States of two-fifths of their natural basis of representation. A black man in a free State is worth just two-fifths more than a black man in a slave State, as a basis of political power under the Constitution. Therefore, instead of encouraging slavery, the Constitution encourages freedom by giving an increase of ‘two-fifths’ of political power to free over slave States. So much for the three-fifths clause; taking it at its worst, it still leads to freedom, not slavery; for, be it remembered that the Constitution nowhere forbids a coloured man to vote. 

The Clause, by counting each enslaved individual as three-fifths of a person, reduced the overall representation of the slave states compared to counting them as full individuals. It did not give the slave states a huge pro-slavery majority in Congress. 

Many of our founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, recognized the inherent contradiction between slavery and the principles of freedom upon which the nation was founded. Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, had advocated for the abolition of slavery on numerous occasions. He initially included condemnation of slavery in the Declaration, but it was ultimately removed to avoid offending certain states, particularly North Carolina and Georgia. 

Our founding fathers, among whom were slave owners, understood that slavery contradicted the principles of the nation they were establishing to ensure the freedom of all Americans.

To contact KCarl or request a speaking engagement, go to The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to

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