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Slave states opposed direct election -- Jane Licht

November 27, 2018

In response to Tuesday’s letter to the editor ” Liberals humiliated state for years,” which defended the Electoral College, the real demon dooming direct national election was slavery.

Our Electoral College was established before there were political parties. It was felt that many residing on the vast geography of this new nation would be uninformed of candidates’ positions. But political parties soon developed and provided information.

Because the Electoral College did not specify that the president and vice president should be in the same party, the 12th Amendment was proposed. Many Northern congressmen supported doing away with the Electoral College all together. But the Southern slave-holding states would not give up the extra power they had by counting each slave as 3/5th of a person -- one of the major compromises in the Constitution.

At the Philadelphia convention, James Wilson from Pennsylvania had proposed direct national election of the president. But James Madison of Virginia responded that this would be unacceptable to the South. Virginia emerged as the big winner with 12 out of 91 electoral votes. For 32 of the first 36 years, a slaveholding Virginian occupied the presidency.

During the discussions of the 12th Amendment, rather than eliminating the pro-slavery bias, the North caved to the South and direct election of the presidency lost again.

Jane Licht, McFarland

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