An annotation on Passage 461 of James Madison's Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 461


This is, covertly, the second mention of the three-fifths clause at the debate.  Wilson and Hamilton’s motion, if it had ultimately prevailed, would have meant that both Houses of the legislature would have been proportional, and both would have counted slaves at a ratio of three-fifths.  Considering how contentious both of these issues would later become, it is remarkable to note that this motion did initially pass, albeit narrowly, and with almost no argumentation.  The states that had voted for the rule in the first branch but against it in the second branch (Maryland, New York, and Connecticut) almost certainly did so because they objected to the Senate being assessed proportionally, not because they objected to the three-fifths rule.  In order to follow the tortured route that the three-fifths clause took on its way to adoption into the Constitution, follow the votes taken in:  (Paragraphs 458, 461, 1229, 1251, 1260, 1289, 1293, 1314, 2078, 2092, and 2702).