Clauses on Slavery (on “Other Persons”) in the Constitution

The phrase used for slave in Article 1 and elsewhere is “other persons” or “such persons.” Caution: The reason that the Thirteen Amendment is necessary is to end slavery is because the Constitution supported slavery.


Here are the clauses that support these aspects of slavery, with each provided below in order in the table:


1.      Article I, Section 2, Paragraph 3 –Determining the state’s population for the purpose of taxation and representation
A count of three-fifths of slaves were added to the count of free white people, including indentured servants, to determine the total population for the state and therefore:

§  Total amount of taxes the state paid

§  Total number of representatives the state received (both House of Representatives and the Electoral College) and therefore the number of representatives that eligible white male voters could vote for. (Tip: some students seem to think that slaves could vote and that is not so.)


2.      Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 1 - Being able to buy slaves from Africa until 1808.


3.      Article IV, Section 2, Paragraph 3 - Requiring all states to return escaped slaves (or indentured servants) to their owners


4.      Article V - Stating that there could be no amendment to number 2 above



Clause from the Constitution

Article I, Section 2, Paragraph 3

Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons [that is slaves].

Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 1

Section 9. The migration or importation of such persons [that is slaves] as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.

Article IV, Section 2, Paragraph 3

No person held to service or labor in one state [that is a slave or an indentured servant], under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.

Article V regarding when amendments can occur to the first Paragraph (above)  in section 9 of Article 1

[Amendments to the Constitution can occur] provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article;



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