Slavery and the Electoral College
Introduction: The Electoral College, like so many other aspects of our Constitution, was the result of compromise. Northern states and Southern states, large states and small state, vigorously debated how to best outline a new National government. One of the many divides that occurred was between free and slave states. The debate over whether this divide played a role in the shaping of the Electoral College persists to this day. In this eLesson, students will review two contemporary articles written about the Electoral College and its relationship with slavery to better understand how it functions and why it was created.
Handout A: United States Constitution Excerpts (see below)
Handout B: The Electoral College Was Not a Pro-Slavery Ploy
Handout C: The Troubling Reason the Electoral College Exists
Instructions: Have students read the excerpts from the U.S. Constitution below and answer the following questions. Then have them read Handout B: The Electoral College Was Not a Pro-Slavery Ploy and Handout C: The Troubling Reason the Electoral College Exists, while answering the questions and filling out the graphic organizer below.
Handout A: United States Constitution Excerpts
Article I Section 2: “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.”
Article II Section 1: “Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress…”
Twelfth Amendment: “The electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice President…”
- In your own words, explain how the president is elected.
- The phrase “three fifths of all other Persons” refers to enslaved people. Do you think this mode of counting population benefited or hurt states with large populations of slaves? Why?
|Issue on the Table|
|Handout B||Was the Electoral College only Created to Benefit the Pro-Slavery Group at the Constitutional Convention?||Handout C|
|3a. Summarize this argument in one sentence, using your own words:
4a. Select and record the sentence or sentences that best demonstrate this argument:
|3b. Summarize this argument in one sentence, using your own words:
4b. Select and record the sentence or sentences that best demonstrate this argument:
|5. Compare the two arguments. To what extent do these claims support or oppose each other?
6. Which argument do you agree with more? Explain your answer.