Emory University President Praises Three-Fifths Compromise As Great 'Pragmatic' SolutionS

Writing in the winter issue of Emory Magazine, President James Wagner rhapsodizes about the need for compromise in a politically turbulent society. He points out that the constitution was in itself a compromise. Another example he cites, is the Three-Fifths Compromise, which legally represented slaves as less than a person. He writes:

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.

He then goes on to explain that compromises, like the Three-Fifths Compromise, keep our country great. Let's think of a bunch of other compromises that he could have used instead of the one that is horrible and forever a stain on our nation:

- The Affordable Care Act

- Voting Rights Act

- Bicameral Legislature

- Do all homework, you get to watch The Simpsons

That took me two minutes.

Also, the whole piece is pretty much about why he's cutting back on the humanities:

At Emory of late we have had many discussions about the ideal-and the reality-of the liberal arts within a research university. All of us who love Emory share a determination that the university will continue trailblazing the best way for research universities to contribute to human well-being and stewardship of the earth in the twenty-first century. This is a high and worthy aspiration. It is tempered by the hard reality that the resources to achieve this aspiration are not boundless; our university cannot do everything we might wish to do, or everything that other universities do. Different visions of what we should be doing inevitably will compete. But in the end, we must set our sights on that higher goal-the flourishing liberal arts research university in service to our twenty-first-century society.

Foot goes where? In mouth. In mouth, sir.

(h/t Alex Shephard)