Jemele Hill Claims Electoral College Was Created to ‘Preserve Slavery’

Jemele Hill
Getty Images/Emma McIntyre

Former ESPN host Jemele Hill proved her ignorance of history Monday, by tweeting that the Electoral College was created to “preserve slavery.” The Atlantic writer also claimed that elections should be controlled by America’s big cities.

Hill was responding to Democrat Andrew Yang who sided with the Electoral College that so many of his fellow party members want to see eliminated.

On March 17, Yang wrote, “The problem with deciding Presidential elections via popular vote is that candidates would naturally campaign in urban areas with big media markets and their policies would follow suit. Better to have proportional electoral college votes in each state, so you campaign everywhere.”

To that, the historically illiterate Hill responded that the Electoral College was created to preserve slavery.

“Nah,” she wrote on Monday. “People who live in cities that truly represent the diversity of America should set the course. The electoral college is outdated and was there to preserve slavery. We need to move on.”

Hill is wrong on every point.

First, her desire to have the few big cities in the U.S. control every election is precisely the opposite effect that the founders wanted to achieve. Our Founding Fathers wanted the whole of the country involved in elections and hoped that each president would represent the entire people of the United States. Her recipe for elections would mean only New York, L.A., Chicago, and the other half dozen big cities would decide who our leaders would be.

The Electoral College was created to give the small states, such as liberal Connecticut, the same weight — or at least fair representation — as the big states, such as conservative Texas. Indeed, you can thank the Electoral College for ending slavery because Abe “The Great Emancipator” Lincoln won election to the White House with only 40 percent of the popular vote.

Many point to the Three-Fifths Compromise, as the clause that each southern slave was worth three-fifths of a person to assess representation. But this clause did not say that a black slave was only intrinsically worth three-fifths of a white person.

What the clause actually did was take power away from the south by refusing to give the slave powers the credit of a full voter to each slave who was not even allowed to vote. The clause was meant to limit slavery, not “preserve” it, as Hill proclaimed.

The debate over the Electoral College was centered on the division of powers and representation, not slavery. After all, some large states had slaves (such as Virginia), and some large states were not slave states (Pennsylvania). The same was true of the smaller states. It was not a linear situation. Neither side was able to exert full control. Which is why the compromise was necessary.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.


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