In the U.S. Constitution, the Three-Fifths Compromise is part of Article 1, Section 2, clause 3. It says:

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.

This appears to say that Native Americans, like the kidnapped African slaves, were to be counted as three-fifths of a person.

Is this interpretation correct and was this how it was historically understood?

  • @MCW: -1, can I downvote a comment? It appears that your answer is not correct. It's always worth checking other sources ... see my answer. May 11, 2022 at 15:10
  • @MCW: So you've deleted your comment rather than be shown to be wrong - LOL. May 11, 2022 at 15:12
  • @MCW: Everyone makes mistakes. Be brave and admit yours. May 11, 2022 at 15:13
  • For the record @MCW said something like that "neither category applied" May 11, 2022 at 15:15
  • Can the downvoter please explain what was wrong with my question? May 11, 2022 at 15:16

1 Answer 1


Mark Savage, in Native Americans and The Constitution: The Original Understanding published in the American Indian Law Review writes exactly on this topic. He states:

The few Native Americans within the jurisdiction (not limits) of a state and taxed by the state would augment that state's proportion of taxation and representation.

And then:

However, the Three-Fifths Clause did not require members of Congress to represent these Native Americans or their interests. Native Americans, like Blacks, were not actually represented.

This is quite clear. Native Americans within the jurisdiction of a state and not merely in its limits and who were paying taxes would be treated as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of the states taxation and representation. However, they, themselves, like the kidnapped and enslaved Africans, would not be represented. Not even three-fifths of a representation.

  • 1
    Please provide full citations (including page number where applicable) and links to online sources where available. Your last quoted portion from the article by Savage is not accurate. Please correctly quote any source used.
    – justCal
    May 12, 2022 at 13:06

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