Emory University's president has been blasted for "a shockingly horrible column" which appeared to praise the "three-fifths compromise" - the clause of America's constitution that counted black slaves as three-fifths of a person.
President James Wagner has already apologized and published an apology, but some are calling for him to step down.
The salient quotes are reprinted below. From his original column:
One instance of constitutional compromise was the agreement to count three-fifths of the slave population for purposes of state representation in Congress. Southern delegates wanted to count the whole slave population, which would have given the South greater influence over national policy. Northern delegates argued that slaves should not be counted at all, because they had no vote. As the price for achieving the ultimate aim of the Constitution - 'to form a more perfect union' - the two sides compromised on this immediate issue of how to count slaves in the new nation. Pragmatic half-victories kept in view the higher aspiration of drawing the country more closely together.
Some might suggest that the constitutional compromise reached for the lowest common denominator - for the barest minimum value on which both sides could agree. I rather think something different happened. Both sides found a way to temper ideology and continue working toward the highest aspiration they both shared - the aspiration to form a more perfect union. They set their sights higher, not lower, in order to identify their common goal and keep moving toward it.
In his walkback, what Wagner claims he intended to suggest the constitution was a weaker document because of the compromise:
The point was not that this particular compromise was a good thing in itself. It was a repugnant compromise. Of course it is not good to count one human being as three fifths of another or, more egregiously, as not human at all, but property. Rather, the first point of the essay was that the Constitution had to be a deeply compromised document in order to be adopted at all. If something is compromised it is inherently weak, unstable.
Via Emory Magazine.