An open letter to the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

I believe it was Gen. Mark Milley who, when testifying recently before Congress, cited the three-fifths compromise in the U.S. Constitution in 1787 as evidence of systemic racism inherent in America’s founding.

I am shocked at Gen. Milley’s ignorance of vital constitutional issues. That a well-educated, four-star general should so misunderstand American history is profoundly disturbing. This is the sort of thing I would expect from The New York Times or a leader of Black Lives Matter.

In order to explain his error, let me ask Gen. Milley if he would have preferred the Southern states’ position on counting their Black slaves for the purpose of representation in Congress: that each slave be counted as a full person?

Does Gen. Milley realize how this would have increased the number of Southern members of the House of Representatives? Even Gen. Milley should realize this would have increased the power of the slave states at the expense of Northern states, who were in the process of ending slavery at the time.

Perhaps it now penetrates Gen. Milley’s skull that the three-fifths compromise actually helped the cause of freedom. The compromise allowed the Constitution, the greatest document in modern human history, to proceed and be approved as the law of the land. In so doing, it also empowered the North in the following years, as those states argued to end slavery, and ultimately fought the Civil War to keep the nation together under the great man dedicated to containing, and eventually ending, slavery — Abraham Lincoln.

Hopefully Gen. Milley agrees we should all be grateful for the Constitution … and in turn, the three-fifths compromise.

David Paine



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