fbpx

No! The Electoral College Was Not about Slavery!

The American people have learned much about the Electoral College since the November election. Much has been learned about the origins, evolution and contemporary functioning of our system of presidential elections. We have debated the merits of our system versus allowing a simple national popular vote. We have seen an unprecedented campaign to try to get electors to vote against their pledge. And some have tried to instruct us on the nuances of the Founding environment that created our unique electoral system.

But among all the good information and honest debates have arisen a misleading half-truth aimed at undermining the Electoral College.

Law professor Paul Finkelman ominously opines that Americans would be “disgusted” if they knew the real origin of the Electoral College was in protecting slavery. Following the 2016 election, the New York Times called for the abolition of the Electoral College, labeling it “a living symbol of America’s original sin.” In Time, constitutional law scholar Akhil Reed Amar recently offered that “Standard civics-class accounts of the Electoral College rarely mention the real demon dooming direct national election in 1787 and 1803: slavery.”

The Electoral College as a living symbol of slavery? Slavery doomed the dream of a national popular vote for President? Reading the debates at the Constitutional Convention regarding how to elect a President would disgust us? What evidence is there for such extraordinary and hyperbolic attacks?

Yale’s Akhil Reed Amar, who may be the originator of this peculiar reading of the Constitution, cites one remark on one day by one member of the Constitutional Convention. And that remark comes two months before the final Electoral College is debated and settled upon. In his remarks, James Madison discusses the importance of separated powers and the difficulty of electing a President, offering that a direct election by the people may be the best option so far on the table. However, he offers that the down side of a direct popular election would be that the Southern states would have no hope of electing Presidents since their voting populations were so much smaller than those in the North. He offered having electors represent the people might obviate this imbalance.

It’s a thin reed that gets thinner when you realize that Madison was responding to New Jersey’s William Paterson, who spoke immediately before him and endorsed a system of electors. Paterson, you see, was a dedicated opponent of slavery and surely did not propose such a system in order to uphold the institution he was otherwise working to undermine. As is typical of opponents of the Electoral College, Professor Amar seems more interested in tarnishing the institution than providing a complete and nuanced picture of the Constitutional Convention and the institution’s origins.

If not slavery, what “doomed” a direct national election for President? Even to frame the question like this is a misrepresentation of the situation, pushing contemporary values back into the 1780s.  James Wilson of Pennsylvania and Gouverneur Morris of New York both proposed such a direct national election, but they made up a small minority at the Convention and were well outside the mainstream of discourse on the question. To assume some kind of conspiracy or nefarious slave interest was behind denying the American people a direct national vote for President is just not supported by the evidence. Rather, the objections to such a system were numerous and came from all sides. Some thought the people could not logistically come out to participate in a national election. Others found the people themselves to be ill-suited for settling upon a suitable character for such a high office. Others feared the power of an organized interest like the Society of the Cincinnati to sway such an election, or the dangers of agitating a national populace and causing divisions of passion and interest. And still others offered that it would be unlikely that a large and diverse population spread over the continent would be able to settle upon a single candidate for office.

But even to say this is to create the wrong impression. A direct national vote was only one of many proposals at the convention and it was among the least seriously considered. Other proposals considered included having Congress choose the President, or the state Governors, or state legislatures. Of these proposals, an election by some subset of Congress was by far the most popular over the course of the debates. And the problems inherent in a congressional choice point us to the real origins of the Electoral College and it has nothing to do with slavery.

An election by Congress, they believed, would have given us the likelihood of the choice of President being made by relatively knowledgeable and serious citizens familiar with the candidates and the needs of the nation. On the other hand, it would make the President the creature of the legislature and thereby undermine the carefully crafted system of separated powers and checks and balances that the Framers found essential to the preservation of liberty. The creation of the Electoral College allowed for an establishment of a temporary body of citizens who could make an enlightened choice for President but who would then dissolve back into the populace, where they could not unduly influence a President who might seek to curry their favor.

What does slavery have to do with this? Almost nothing at all. To taint the Electoral College with the poison brush of slavery one first needs to leap back to the Great Compromise that created the Congress itself. In this compromise, small states were protected by being given equal representation in the Senate. Large states were given offsetting power in the House of Representatives, which was based on population size. The Electoral College math simply replicates this compromise to be used to elect the President, with each state getting electors equal to their representation in the House and the Senate. To bring slavery into it, one must then take a second leap into the three-fifths compromise where the Convention agreed to count each slave as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of allocating representation in the House of Representatives. That terrible injustice was eventually rectified in the Fourteenth Amendment and today’s Electoral College math, like the math creating Congress, has nothing to do with counting slaves.

The opponents of the Electoral College, in attempting to undermine support for the institution, have painted it with an unfair half-truth that distorts the historical record as well as the constitutional principles undergirding the system itself. Their slings and arrows of social justice, however, would be more honestly aimed at the existence of the House of Representatives. That would once have seemed absurd. But, one assumes, they will someday be fine with that, too—if Republicans continue to win majorities in that institution.

Reader Discussion

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.

on January 04, 2017 at 08:17:31 am

The reed is not as thin as Dr. Gregg thinks it is. James Madison was scarcely a nobody, and the ultimate decision, to base state representation in the Electoral College on congressional representation, was "agreeable" to both the small states and the slave states. And perhaps Dr. Greggs' arguments might be more convincing if he did not hold the "Mitch McConnell Chair." And one can also wonder if Dr. Gregg would be writing the same column if Hillary Clinton had lost the popular vote by three million and yet won the presidency.

read full comment
Image of Alan Vanneman
Alan Vanneman
on January 04, 2017 at 15:46:16 pm

Mr. Vanneman, one can wonder a lot of things. While Madison was "scarcely a nobody," he was ultimately one vote. He subsequently went on to provide a defense of the system in the Federalist papers. The rest of your points are merely ad hominem. Defeat a man's argument, not the fact that an alumnus you don't like donated money to his alma mater. What about the historical analysis do you actually find disagreeable?

read full comment
Image of Austin Spillane
Austin Spillane
on January 04, 2017 at 18:05:54 pm

"...was “agreeable” to both the small states and the slave states."

Seemingly, there is some import to this statement; yet, it escapes me. The *small* states and the *slave states* are not mutually exclusive and the implication by Vanneman that such an *agreeable* state represents some special / unique affinity / connection proving his rather baseless assertion that the Electoral College was designed to preserve slavery is without foundation.

Goodness gracious, man, can you not see that it's purpose was to achieve a balance between what were intended to be (semi-) Sovereign States and the Federal Republic? This was, after all, intedned as a FEDERAL Republic with specific guarantees, rights and limited sovereign powers reserved for the constituent members of the Federation. Nothing more - no evil little slaveholders plan to capture the Federal Republic.

Where I suspect that the first respondent goes wrong is in thinking, as have so many others (or at least so allege) that the 3/5th's compromise was a means of bolstering the slave power. Contrary to popular myth, this was clearly not the intention of the Northern signatories / drafters.
Recall that the slave states wanted, AND pressed for, a full accounting of slave subjects. It was the best that the North could do to limit this accounting to 3/5th's - that is, if they were to have a "Union." Recall also, that the future, indeed, the very security of the young nation, was questionable with continued threats from European powers (British forts in New York, Spanish control of the Mississippi, etc) and the young nation not prepared to contest these existential threats.

So rant on, if you will about, well the usual silliness about slavery / racism, etc. Context is what is almost always missing in the pronouncements of the left.

BTW: Did the GOP rail against the electoral college when Billy Bob clinton, assumed the presidency with only 41% of the popular vote in 1992?

Lefties are simply WEARISOME!!!!!!

read full comment
Image of gabe
gabe
on January 05, 2017 at 08:11:10 am

[…] – See more at: http://www.libertylawsite.org/2017/01/03/no-the-electoral-college-was-not-about-slavery/#sthash.SGYh… […]

read full comment
Image of The Jackson Press – No! The Electoral College Was Not about Slavery!
The Jackson Press – No! The Electoral College Was Not about Slavery!
on January 05, 2017 at 10:04:49 am

I believe in replacing the College with direct popular vote and a runoff between the top two if nobody gets over 50%. 100,000 signatures would be required for each candidate. I also favour national primaries with runoffs for the Dems and Reps but that's another matter. This time-a Clinton-Trump runoff. Probably Trump but not by much.

read full comment
Image of mark taha
mark taha
on January 05, 2017 at 16:17:22 pm

No the GOP didn't put up a hissie when Bill Clinton won with only 41% of the vote. That's because he got MORE VOTES than their candidate did. Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by almost 3,000,000 votes(around 2%). Comparing this year's election to 1992 is idiotic. If this had been the case in '92, maybe the GOP might have been a bit upset.

read full comment
Image of Chris Tate
Chris Tate
on December 10, 2017 at 14:25:32 pm

[…] to the Electoral College having its basis in slavery, suffice it to say that Steinem is as bad at history as she is at […]

read full comment
Image of BizzyBlog
BizzyBlog
on December 10, 2017 at 20:01:22 pm

[…] to the Electoral College having its basis in slavery, suffice it to say that Steinem is as bad at history as she is at […]

read full comment
Image of Press Virtually Ignores Gloria Steinem's Howler: Trump 'Lost by 10 Million Votes' - Telzilla
Press Virtually Ignores Gloria Steinem's Howler: Trump 'Lost by 10 Million Votes' - Telzilla
on February 05, 2018 at 16:38:04 pm

> However, he offers that the down side of a direct popular election would be that the Southern states would have no hope of electing Presidents since their voting populations were so much smaller than those in the North. He offered having electors represent the people might obviate this imbalance.

And why should the Southern states have been entitled to do anything out of proportion to their popular vote count? Would you say that hairdressers, or 21-30-year-olds, or Episcopalians, or candlestick makers have no hope of electing presidents, so they should be given power needed to have a 50/50 chance of doing so?

> The Electoral College math simply replicates this compromise to be used to elect the President, with each state getting electors equal to their representation in the House and the Senate.

The Electors have a higher degree of pressure to vote a particular way compared to members of Congress. Combine that with the perversion of it taking 3.5 Florida voters to have the same EC voting power as 1 Wyoming voter and any notion of equality should be considered a perverse joke. In computers, this distortion would be called a kludge. It may have made some sense at one time and was probably implemented under severe time pressures. But, at least now, it's apparent that its problems are worse than its benefits. Trash the kludge and repace it with a popular vote.

read full comment
Image of Paul Dineen
Paul Dineen
on March 31, 2018 at 13:19:55 pm

You disqualify yourself as someone capable of serious academic discourse the moment you write "the usual silliness about slavery / racism, etc. Context is what is almost always missing in the pronouncements of the left." Slavery was the issue of the day at the writing of the Constitution and the failure to resolve it in 1787, led to a violent resolution in 1860. If you want an honest conversation about context, then take your 2018 bias out of the discussion.

The South negotiated throughout the Convention with the protection and preservation of their economic system, ie: slavery, foremost in their minds. If it were not so, the Great Compromise and the resultant Three-Fifths Compromise (or vice-versa), the Commerce & Slave Trade Compromise and the Fugitive Slave Clause would not have existed. To deny their purpose is to ignore history and context for the sake of one's own personal beliefs, biases and discomforts.

If the slave holding South had not been able to secure protection for slavery, they would NOT have supported the Constitution. Period. End of story. That is the truth. That is "the usual silliness about slavery / racism, etc" that you so smugly dismiss because it doesn't fit your worshipful narrative of the perfect, White hero/Father/Founder/Nation.

As to the Electoral College, I don't think it was created solely because of slavery. However, the Three-Fifths Compromise DID give the South the SAME additional representation on the Electoral map that it did in the House. If you honestly believe that this was NOT the goal of the South when they gave their approval, then you do a severe disservice to intelligence, and foresight of the "Founders" that you need to be so perfect and pure. They had protected slavery at every turn. Why would they agree on a method of presidential election that wouldn't do the same? That would have been highly illogical and counterproductive to every compromise they'd secured. And, if protecting slavery wasn't their motivation, please share another reason the South fought for extra representation. Share why the south wanted to count its property in addition to its citizens. Share why the North wasn't allowed to do the same (be careful, this is a trick question). Share the CONTEXT of the day by explaining the prevailing regional difference between the North and the South at the writing of the Constitution.

Just for funsies, when you're done, please share how you'd feel if a proposal were made today for states to be able to count non-citizens for representation in the House, thereby, affecting the Electoral Map in the run up to 2020. They wouldn't be allowed to vote, mind you, they'd just be used to determine House and electoral numbers. How long would it take for you to do the math and say that it was a Democratic ploy to steal the White House and the House? Illegal immigration now. Legal slavery then. Honesty from the "but our past is only filled with heroes!" right? You tell me...

read full comment
Image of Njeri Ankh
Njeri Ankh
on June 13, 2018 at 11:23:12 am

There is more evidence than Mr. Gregg lets on. In fact, during the debates Hugh Williamson of North Carolina "bluntly noted that the South could not support popular election: 'The people will be sure to vote for some man in their own State, and the largest State will be sure to succeed. This will not be Virginia. However. Her slaves will have no suffrage.'" Of course about 50% of the population of NC was also comprised of slaves at the time.

read full comment
Image of amtberg
amtberg
on October 08, 2018 at 20:07:42 pm

I am sick and tired of citizens who are so preoccupied with race that they think every thing is related to the Nation's race problem and contrive to place the burden of guilt of slavery on today's white population by the use of such terms as "original sin". There was nothing sinful about slavery at the time than it would be sinful in using a plow with Ox power. . I remind all citizens slavery was abolished in 1865.

I is axiomatic that a society is the happiest to the degree all members are alike. [ Wait, don't interrupt demanding definitions--take it as a hypothesis if you like for argument's purposes.]

The degree of unhappiness in the United States today is a consequence of "The African Slave Trade". [ Which I have spent several years studying, in all it's aspects a period of time when all enlightened nations were transitioning from agriculture to a newer form of civilization for the production of personal wealth.] We would not have this social problem today if the ancestors of today's living Blacks had arrived on the Mayflower. [ Now don't you dare start calling me names. I understand it's the "correct" thing to do if you are ill-informed.]

The reality is the Blacks were freed years ago from one form of incarceration to another - to an "imprisonment" on an open continent and there being too few remaining reluctant to to be returned home and not enough to be absorbed and so distinctively different that they became ignored, circumscribed, isolated in many practical and legal ways. This unhappy state of affairs some call "The American Dilemma". That's not correct as the Americans are doing well enough for themselves. It is "A Negroes Dilemma". Every day they are reminded of their unhappiness. Every day most non-Black Americans give it no thought.

When all the "African-Americans" come to call themselves "American-Africans" both societies will be happier. [ Read Axiom above ]

read full comment
Image of Martin Kessler, Economist
Martin Kessler, Economist
on October 08, 2018 at 21:20:46 pm

The fact that Gregg dances around Madison’s words without fully quoting them and just “conveniently “ leaves out when Madison specifically mentions slavery is all one needs to know about his academic dishonesty here. Here is the full recording of Madison’s words:

"The people at large was in his opinion the fittest in itself. It would be as likely as any that could be devised to produce an Executive Magistrate of distinguished Character. The people generally could only know & vote for some Citizen whose merits had rendered him an object of general attention & esteem. There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of the Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to fewest objections."

So only one difficulty, and a serious one, the Negros in the slave sates who could not vote, right there in black and white. And as for Madison “only being one man”, he wasn’t called “the Father of the Constitution “ for no reason.

read full comment
Image of Mark
Mark
on October 12, 2018 at 19:20:53 pm

the electoral college WAS all about slavery and slavery WAS all about the electoral college because there never would have been a u.s.a. AT ALL or even 13 British colonies without the race-based slavery of Black only - it would have been England or some combination of English and Indian but the introduction of Black Only Slavery was CRUCIAL and FOUNDATIONAL to the VERY EXISTENCE of the u.s.a. and the 13 colonies amen?
but the race-based slavery of black only was only possible because EARTHLY LIFE ITSELF IS INTRISICALLY SLAVERY amen?
"Earthly life IS NOT the TRUE LIFE." (Quran)
so Life in Heaven Must be TRUE LIFE
no thieves to steal you from your home and make you a slave...and did not Jesus say "I am the truth and the light."
and will not "the TRUTH set you free"?

so Heaven is freedom and nothing less is freedom
ask Abel who was set free to go to heaven by his brother Cain
but CURRENTLY the Cain of today - THE TRUMP AGENDA - will conceivably set everyone on Earth free like the original Cain had once upon a time set his brother Abel free amen?
you have to die SOMEHOW if you are born
why not make your life AND death count by leaving this earthly life in such a way so that you do not have to come back to this PRISON called the Planet Earth again amen?

read full comment
Image of Michael Lueras
Michael Lueras
on November 28, 2018 at 23:10:16 pm

Does the Electoral College have racist roots? Was it created only because of slavery? To listen to some media commentators in recent weeks, you would think so.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

United States Constitution -- scene at signingLet’s start by acknowledging an obvious fact: Yes, some of our Founders owned slaves. Compromises were made in our early years because North and South couldn’t agree on whether to continue the institution. (Of course, while Southerners owned most of the slaves, don’t forget that Northerners sometimes owned slaves, too. And the North often profited from the products made by Southern slaves.) NONE of us like this part of our heritage. ALL of us wish that slavery had never existed. But does this mean that the Constitution and its presidential election process are just a “relic of slavery”? Of course not. Our Founders were more than this one unfortunate flaw.

So what are the specific charges thrown at the Electoral College in this context?

First, critics sometimes cite the 3/5ths compromise, which was brokered by delegates at the Constitutional Convention. That compromise had to do with the way that the population would be counted for purposes of determining congressional representation. The South wanted to count slaves as a whole person. The North did not want to include slaves in this tally AT ALL—a larger population would give the South more voting power! In the end, the delegates to the Convention agreed to count slaves as 3/5ths of a person. But did that compromise really do more for the South or for the North? After all, if slaves had been counted as a whole person (as the South wanted), then the South would have had even MORE representatives in Congress. The 3/5ths compromise is often cited as something that was somehow pro-South/pro-slavery. But it can also be interpreted as a nod to non-slave owners in the North.

Something else you should know about the 3/5ths compromise: The delegates were discussing congressional representation, NOT the Electoral College. In fact, the discussions about the compromise and the discussions about the presidential election system were largely separate. The main reason that the compromise is cited today is because, late in the Convention, it was decided that each state’s electoral vote allocation would match its congressional allocation.

You wouldn’t know this to listen to Electoral College critics. Instead, they often cite one statement made by James Madison. Taken out of context, it certainly sounds damning. “The right of suffrage,” he told the convention in July 1787, “was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of the Negroes.” Electoral College opponents usually note that he mentioned electors in his very next sentence.

There are multiple problems here. First, Madison wasn’t the first to suggest the use of electors that day. A delegate from Massachusetts, Rufus King, had already mentioned them earlier. King’s state was not a slave state, nor was King himself in favor of slavery. (He worked against it during his lifetime.) Second, the discussion that day wasn’t about slavery. Madison’s statement was a tangent to the main discussion, which revolved around the President’s eligibility for a second term and whether the legislature should select the President directly.

Indeed, the debates about the presidential election process were not focused on slavery—at all. The delegates discussed whether legislative selection or a national popular vote was better. All the small states (not only slave states) were worried about the concept of a national popular vote. They feared that they would be outvoted by the large states time and time again. Keep in mind that the large states weren’t uniformly slave or not slave either. Virginia, one of the largest states, was a slave state, whereas Pennsylvania was not.

In short: Yes, slavery was AN issue at the founding of our country, but it wasn’t the ONLY issue.

The delegates to our Constitutional Convention met in a hot room in Philadelphia one summer, and they spent months in a deep, intellectual discussion and debate: How can a diverse nation composed of both large and small states govern itself, even as it treats minority groups fairly? How can it protect itself against government officials who would abuse their power? The delegates were learned men; they’d studied political philosophy and the history of other governments. They grappled with difficult questions, and they worked out several fair compromises. They deliberated as fairly and honestly as they knew how. They were relatively free of partisan motivations; their biggest biases lay in favor of their home states. Indeed, in the wake of the Convention, written debates between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists continued this process. These essays reflect the seriousness with which our founding generation took its task. I challenge anyone to read those works, then argue with a straight face that the Constitution is nothing more than an attempt to protect slavery.

Our Founders worked hard to create a Constitution that would avoid the worst flaws of pure democracy, even as it kept the best aspects of self-governance. We hurt only ourselves when we dismiss their work so quickly.

read full comment
Image of RAY LOVINS
RAY LOVINS
on February 20, 2019 at 12:33:48 pm

I doubt that the GOP would put up any "hissie" if HRC had won, fair and square, in the Electoral College, even if she'd lost the popular vote tally. Contrary to what the late George Wallace, otherwise one of the greatest Americans EVER, once said in comparison of Dummycrats and Republicons, there is a "DIME's worth" of difference (but not much more)...in general, Republicons understand the rule of LAW, and know that at times it won't turn out as they'd like it, whereas Dummycrats could care less about the LAW, save that it can be used as a cudgel if it favors what they want, but otherwise, they will resort to the rule of the MOB, with all the LAWLESSNESS and dirty, underhanded, hypocritical things they're well-practiced at. If anything, its give them an advantage...Dummycrats seek POWER for it's own sake, so perhaps they're not so "dumb" after all, huh?

read full comment
Image of Douglas L Self
Douglas L Self
on February 20, 2019 at 13:07:42 pm

Had the issue of slavery not been deferred for some 80 years, there wouldn't have been a "more perfect union" at all. Sorry, Njeri, there was no great clamor to abolish slavery in 1787, and the abolition movement was but an annoyance even in 1861. Certainly slavery did play a part, it was a huge part of the Southern economy, since it lent itself to the plantation system that produced the cash crops (tobacco, cotton, and sugar cane, more for rum than sweets) that were their economic mainstays. The irony is that in a last-ditch attempt to keep the slave-holding states from seceding, the Corwin Amendment was passed by Congress on March 2, 1861, just two days prior to Lincoln's inauguration. Lincoln himself supported this amendment, which would have guaranteed the legality of slavery in any state that wanted it, remarking that the slave states had a better chance of preserving the "peculiar institution" within the Union than if they left it. His words were far more prophetic than he'd guesses, in no small part thanks to his own so-called Emancipation Proclamation, which freed NO slaves at all, as obvious within the Confederacy they would not have cared, and did not, by its own text, enable freedom for any slaves in territory under USA control. In fact, it was in MD and DE that what actually became the Thirteenth Amendment (by mid-1862, only four states had ratified the Corwin Amendment) that freed slaves AFTER the surrender of the Confederacy in April and May of 1865.

The South well understood in 1787 that population-wise, that, save for Virginia, they were going in already a minority faction population-wise in the House, which only got worse for them as time progressed. If you look at a list of the states in order of admission to the Union, you see a 'tit-for-tat' admission process of "slave" versus "free", which itself is very much a misnomer, as, contrary to what's often supposed, in many states north of the Mason-Dixon line, slavery was still quite legal, just simply not commonly practiced. In effect, America was already bifurcated on an economic basis right from its beginnings, which reflected its politics up until the (failed) War of Confederate Independence. In short (too late), slavery was a part and cause of what you Yankees and other misguided fools term the "Civil" War (which wasn't terribly 'civil' for the South, suh...), but definitely NOT for reason of ABOLITION, but ECONOMICS. As terrible as it seems nowadays to even discuss human beings as so much livestock, that's in reality exactly what they were, and in the slave states, a significant part of their economy...which explains that though only a minority of free men owned slaves (including a few free blacks, mostly in Louisiana where the practice went back to its days under the French), most were quite willing to fight to preserve it, seeing its economic benefit to THEM at the time (I doubt most slaves had the perspective or the education at the time, they understood the lash and the rope and others tools of their captivity).

The 3/5 Compromise was an effort to determine REPRESENTATION in the Congress, as well as taxation...the EC came out as a result, not the other way around. In fact, at first the proposal was that the assembled Congress itself would be the EC, but this was rejected for two reasons, the first being that though there was almost unanimous sentiment that a nationwide popular election to pick the POTUS was undesirable, and this held by slave and free states as well as small versus large states, the states themselves should be able to determine how their respective electors were picked, including a popular election, which not all states did at first, but, more important, beyond the balance of powers between the States and their supposed servant, the Federal Government (now, like Lord Vader, having become the 'Master'), was that the electors should NOT be from the Congress, else the President, unless he were already term-limited to just one, would by nature be beholden to Congressional factions to get re-elected! This would be an obvious imbalance between the branches of Government, so hence why the wording and intent of Article Two is that the STATES elect the POTUS.

Of course, you're perfectly welcome to attempt to get a Constitutional Amendment to declare that the POTUS is picked in a nationwide popular election, and at least the Amendment process itself, requiring a 2/3 vote margin in BOTH House and Senate (this first hurdle being why proposed Amendments don't usually get anywhere), and THEN, thanks to the notion which hasn't YET been utterly disregarded, as so much of the Constitution is by you Libtards all, that some degree of Federalism still exists, such an Amendment must get 3/4 of the STATES to ratify...and that's 38 at this time. I can guarantee that more than 13 of the 50 states would never go along with such a hare-brained idea as abolishing the Electoral College.

read full comment
Image of Douglas L Self
Douglas L Self
on February 20, 2019 at 13:10:30 pm

Well, I can certainly hope that people of color can find their own happiness in this fair land regardless of what they term themselves, either something that is suffixed with a "-American", or not, if anything at all. I certainly find mine and make no apologies for it nor the American history and traditions that made it possible!

read full comment
Image of Douglas L Self
Douglas L Self
on February 20, 2019 at 13:41:18 pm

I believe the US president should be elected like the French one-direct popular vote and a runoff if nobody gets over 50%. Ironically,I think Bush would have beaten Gore-not sure re Trump-Clinton.

read full comment
Image of mark taha
mark taha
on March 11, 2019 at 14:03:36 pm

[…] No! The Electoral College Was Not about Slavery! […]

read full comment
Image of The Electoral College Was Not to Protect Slavery – Liberty Farmer
The Electoral College Was Not to Protect Slavery – Liberty Farmer
on March 16, 2019 at 16:40:53 pm

Go to it. Just get the Constitution amended. First convince the small states to agree to the change, because it was all about slavery and does not add to their voices nationally. Just mention slavery. Even though many non slavery voices were opposed to a direct election of presidents and were in favor of the EC. Hamilton was one and was not a slaver.
Then convince the required states to disregard the compromises made to secure the votes to approve the Constitution because you don't like them. Then abolish the Senate as purely undemocratic and the House of Representatives also because it again is not one man one vote in assessing how many representatives allotted.
Then get rid of the Supreme Court which in protecting individual liberty is often not democratic by striking down popular legislation as unconstitutional.
In short, have a popular vote for everything, including your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Then the way to collectivism would be much easier.

read full comment
Image of Jeff Weisenfeld
Jeff Weisenfeld
on March 19, 2019 at 20:48:32 pm

While we look back on the story through the lens of time we hear of the hot room in Philly. Most of the world was in the business of having, trading, and utilizing slaves. Not having slaves was a vertible novelty and may have been on moral, economic, or functional grounds. The entire concept of electing representatives to legislate to create a true union of States with a Federal Republic government was really very new. Many states just wanted to be states and left alone, like separate nations states on their own. Some few individuals had a different vision. While those guys were wise the whole thing was being synthesized right there to garner an approval of enough of the states. Reading the histories, each of the States had their own views and it was not all just a South-North thing. New York was a dominant force even then and getting all to go along with something was politicking and persuasion. The representatives had other things going on in their lives besides traveling all the way to Philly to argue. But eventually enough of them did, and they made something of a fledgling government. It was a new government, and a new type of government. Since shortly after that The Electoral College has been part of the solution to many of the problems of democracy, most foreseen by those dead white guys whose faces grace our money, all these years and elected almost all of the Presidents. One could argue that the current disputes are not about America the Nation but about America the land. Otherwise why would there be so much focus on throwing out everything that was before to write something new? The weather? No? For one collection of groups to get their way by changing the rules? Other forms of government have come and gone, conceived by guys who thought that they were wise. This one has tottered on. It is an amazing story.

read full comment
Image of Glenn Johnson
Glenn Johnson
on March 20, 2019 at 09:56:48 am

E.G.,"Democracy" being two wolves and sheep discussing what's for dinner. A Constitutional Republic with guaranteed rights is where the sheep is ARMED, and the wolves discover the wonders of a vegetarian diet!

read full comment
Image of Douglas L Self
Douglas L Self
on March 22, 2019 at 08:51:21 am

Great piece. To extend it slightly, the Connecticut Compromise was forge by Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth, delegates from Connecticut who hated slavery. Sherman, in fact, helped pen Connecticut's gradual manumission act.

read full comment
Image of Mark David Hall
Mark David Hall
on April 10, 2019 at 09:58:32 am

[…] Here’s another from Gary L. Gregg who also counters in lawliberty.org with this article, “No! The Electoral College Was Not About Slavery!” He points […]

read full comment
Image of Slavery Does Not Pick Our President - Equal Voice Voting
Slavery Does Not Pick Our President - Equal Voice Voting
on April 29, 2019 at 17:08:18 pm

Nevertheless, whether your argument is correct or not, the effect of the "3/5 Compromise" and the adoption of the Electoral College was to give disproportional relative to their populations political power to the slave states and thus ensure, or at least greatly assist in ensuring, that the first 9 presidents were from slave states.

read full comment
Image of thereasonableman
thereasonableman
on April 30, 2019 at 16:21:23 pm

It probably helped for the prospects of Presidential aspirants from "slave" states that the Southern culture made for more of the "aristocracy", as de facto it was, to seek political office. This was a natural outgrowth of the second, third, and so on sons of the planter, since they would not likely inherit the main plantation, to be educated and/or be sent to military academies like the Citadel, VMI, and especially West Point, and have a military career. Indeed, what handicapped the Union Armies in the first few years of the Civil War was the "brain drain" caused by the bulk of the experienced US Army officers siding with the Confederacy. Robert E. Lee himself was offered command of the Army of the Potomac by Lincoln and likely would have led the Union to a quick victory had Virginia remained in the Union, which almost happened.

Still, Southern politicians had to win over Northern, and as the country grew, Western interests in order to get their own way, even with the 'bonus' of having 60 percent of their slave population, obviously non-voting otherwise, count towards the House of Representatives and its proportionate share in the Electoral College. This was seen as early as 1820 with the compromise that brought in Missouri as a slave state and created Maine out of Massachusetts. By 1850, with that compromise, and the obviously inability of future states to sustain the "peculiar institution" on economic grounds, it was obvious that even with the 3/5 compromise, the South's clout was past, proven in no small way by Lincoln's brilliant campaign in 1860, winning 180 of 303 electoral votes with slightly less than 40% of the popular vote, and not bothering to show his face south of the Mason-Dixon line (in some places, the police might not have been able to protect him!). Still, Lincoln, seeing that the South would not have him as their President (sound familiar?), did support what was known as the Corwin Amendment, which would have explicitly guaranteed slavery wherever it was then legal in perpetuity as long as the respective states wanted it, and THAT would have been the Thirteenth Amendment. Folks that pontificate that the Civil War was prosecuted in the cause to abolish slavery are wholly ignorant of what Lincoln was willing to do to preserve the Union w/o bloodshed.

read full comment
Image of Douglas L Self
Douglas L Self
on June 15, 2019 at 21:44:48 pm

How about ONE PERSON...ONE VOTE? Sounds good to me....

read full comment
Image of Gary Aldrich
Gary Aldrich
on November 21, 2019 at 08:05:53 am

Of course it was about slavery! How else can Dems take advantage of a minority they themselves victimized from the very beginning of the Democratic Party? Without victims, the Dems have nothing, because they sure aren't about success, hard work, winners, triumph, or happiness.

read full comment
Image of MrSatyre
MrSatyre
on November 21, 2019 at 10:33:15 am

Wasn't the reference to Republicans in the last sentence supposed to be a reference to Democrats. Or was he instead referring to the Sensate?

read full comment
Image of Vince Cox
Vince Cox
on December 06, 2019 at 16:45:22 pm

Some thoughts, have we not had this occur 5 times and each time to the Democratic Party?

1. One can understand Democrats wanting to get rid of it, they are perfect example of why it was created, they seem to want to change our foundations when it does not go their way.
2. Popular vote means nothing in a Republic, which makes the EC so unique, it represents the whole. You can spew Hillary won over 3 million votes, however simply remove LA County and she does not, which is another example why the EC is such a incredible part of our foundation. Over populated media controlled populations cannot dictate the whole.
3. To suggest getting rid of it because it was rooted in slavery? Then should we not get rid of the Democratic Party then as they supported slavery at the time?

read full comment
Image of PG
PG

Law & Liberty welcomes civil and lively discussion of its articles. Abusive comments will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to delete comments - or ban users - without notification or explanation.