This vote would establish the three-fifths clause in the Constitution. Its final vote (6 ayes, 2 noes and 2 divided states) reveals solid, but hardly overwhelming support. Much had changed since June 11, when the topic was first broached. Although this vote ties the issue of representation to that of taxation, the debates make clear that the three-fifths ratio for the purpose of calculating direct taxation was not a contentious issue at the Convention. The compromise was between those states that did not want slaves counted at all for the purpose of representation and those that wanted to count slaves fully. Gouverneur Morris would later try once more on August 8 (Paragraph 2085) to base representation on free persons only, but his attempt to reopen the topic would fail resoundingly. Indeed the votes taken on August 8 and 21 (Paragraph 2078, 2092, and 2702) demonstrate that most of the states had by that time become reconciled to this compromise.
While it may gall later critics that the Southern states gained greater political power on the basis of their slaves, its worthwhile to remember what Frederick Douglass said of this 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. . . . it still leans to freedom.” 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).