Direct Taxes and early constitution's 3/5ths Clause?

Sue Kozel's picture

Hi, Colleagues - 

I need your guidance and direction.  I can't seem to find the actual revenue amount for any Direct Taxes collected in 1798 or any other time from the US Constitution's 3/5ths Clause provision.  Having read about 50 books and articles, there is consistent mention of direct taxes but no actual sum.  I am looking for national numbers and NJ numbers, and appropriate sources/documentation. Maybe I haven't read the right document, book, academic journal, or summary yet, and that is where I need your help to read an actual source with revenue amounts collected.

Thank you for helping me.  I have a project about Wench Betty, a NJ slave murdered by her Monmouth County slave owner in 1784, and wanted to add the discussion of direct taxes.  

Maybe I am not artful enough in how I am constructing my question but I know if there is an answer to the amount of direct taxes collected, H-SHEAR is the place for the answer's unveiling.

We all know the language, and this text is from

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. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

Best wishes, and thank you for sharing,

Sue Kozel

NJ Public Scholar; adjunct faculty; and August 2020 fellow, International Center for Jefferson Studies

Information on Wench Betty -

The numbers, at least as reported by the Secretary of the Treasury, can be found in the Finance volume of the American State Papers. These are all easily found in the A Century of Lawmaking, American Memory collection maintained by the Library of Congress at The report for 1803 is in Finance Vol II, No. 209.

I cannot tell from your query what other information might be useful to you, feel free to followup offlist as seems appropriate.

Prof. Charlotte Crane
Northwestern Pritzker School of Law



Thank you, Professor Crane - I've just sent you an email follow-up, as per your request, with follow-up. Very helpful information, and I've checked out your resources.

Thank you, Dr. Paul Finkelman for your private email and phone help as well. Invaluable and instructive.

I look forward to continuing conversations and new clarifications because I do believe that the US Constitutional Convention and the Constitution itself were beneficial to slave holders, and I want to be very clear on my understanding regarding the direct tax revenue issue.

Be well,

Sue Kozel

[Ed. note (PBK): We're happy that Sue Kozel's query generated useful results for her work.  This is a reminder that some of H-Net's most informative and useful discussions have been follow-ups to straightforward queries like Sue Kozel's.  We encourage folks who answer queries to post them to the network so others can benefit. New ideas and perspectives frequently emerge from those discussions, so it's hardly an imposition on our readers to answer on the network.]


May I share a resource that I am sure many colleagues have consulted, but I found that I believe has been the most helpful in clarifying some of the comments made by colleagues who wrote me in public posts and privately.

A Discovery: 1798 Federal Direct Tax Records for Connecticut Prologue Magazine, Spring 2007, Vol. 39, No. 1

By Judith Green Watson © 2007 by Judith Green Watson 

She takes many of the ideas shared by others, and does clarify how Slaves were actually counted for the 1798 dwelling tax.

Let me continue to express my continued gratitude to Charlotte Crane for her kind direction and more of her exchanges. Her guidance has been most helpful and gave me keywords to search.

Thank you: Richard Leffler (Co-editor Emeritus, The Documentary History of the, Ratification of the Constitution, University of Wisconsin-Madison) for his helpful private message, and Calvin Johnson, from the University of Texas Law School, for his engaging and intense post and private messages to me.

Be well, and if Judith Green Watson is out there, please write.

Thank you, Sue K.