Framers' Design for the Electoral College and Today

Time for Reform?

Lesson I. Constitutional Convention and Electoral College

Step 5. End of Slavery


Listen to this clip from the NPR podcast Throughline about the Electoral College, the Civil War, and the end of slavery. Then reflect on the questions below. 

Check for Understanding

When the Thirteenth Amendment passed after the Civil War, it ended slavery in the United States. As a result, the 3/5 Clause in the Constitution was no longer applied. This clause formerly counted enslaved persons as 3/5 when considering the population of a state. With the end of slavery, newly freed people were fully included in the population count.

The number of Representatives each state receives in the House of Representatives is based on population. This meant that states with recently freed enslaved persons newly had more Representatives in the House of Representatives.

The number of electors a state receives in the Electoral College is based on a state’s number of Representatives in the House of Representatives, plus two Senators. This meant that Southern states newly had more electors in the Electoral College. 

Lastly, the Fifteenth Amendment officially made it possible for African-American men to vote. However, through intimidation and other means, former enslavers made it almost impossible for Black men to vote. 

Answer these questions on your own paper: 

  1. How did the end of using the 3/5 Clause impact the Electoral College? 
  2. Why would former enslavers want to count freed people fully, but prevent them from voting?
Lesson I. Step 5 of 7