The Debates in the
Federal Convention of 1787
Mr. Daniel Carroll from Maryland took his Seat.
Mr. GOVr. MORRIS
delivered a report from the Come. of 5 members to whom was committed the clause
in the Report of the Come. consisting of a member from each State, stating the
proper ratio of Representatives in the 1st. branch, to be as 1 to every 40,000
inhabitants, as follows viz
"The Committee to whom was referred the 1st. clause of the 1st.
proposition reported from the grand Committee, beg leave to report
I. 1 that in the 1st. meeting of the
Legislature the 1st. branch thereof consist of 56. members of which Number, N.
Hamshire shall have 2. Massts. 7. R. Id. 1. Cont 4. N. Y. 5. N. J. 3. Pa. 8.
Del. 1. Md. 4. Va. 9. N. C. 5. S. C. 5. Geo. 2. —
II. 1 But as the present situation of
the States may probably alter as well in point of wealth as in the number of
their inhabitants, that the Legislature be authorized from time to time to
augment ye. number of Representatives. And in case any of the States shall
hereafter be divided, or any two or more States united, or any new States
created within the limits of the United States, the Legislature shall possess
authority to regulate the number of Representatives in any of the foregoing
cases, upon the principles of their wealth and number of inhabitants."
Mr. SHERMAN wished to know on what
principles or calculations the Report was founded. It did not appear to
correspond with any rule of numbers, or of any requisition hitherto adopted by
Mr. GORHAM. Some provision of this sort
was necessary in the outset. The number of blacks & whites with some regard
to supposed wealth was the general guide Fractions could not be observed. The
Legislre. is to make alterations from time to time as justice & propriety
may require. Two objections prevailed agst. the rate 2
of 1 member for every 40,000. inhts. The 1st. was that the Representation would
soon be too numerous: the 2d. that the Westn. States who may have a different
interest, might if admitted on that principle by degrees, outvote the Atlantic.
Both these objections are removed. The number will be small in the first
instance and may be continued so; and the Atlantic States having ye. Govt. in
their own hands, may take care of their own interest, by dealing out the right
of Representation in safe proportions to the Western States. These were the
views of the Committee.
Mr. L MARTIN wished to know whether the
Come. were guided in the ratio, by the wealth or number of inhabitants, of the
States, or by
3 both; noting its variations from former
apportionments by Congs.
Mr. GOVr. MORRIS
& Mr. RUTLIDGE moved to postpone the 1st. paragraph
relating to the number of members to be allowed each State in the first
instance, and to take up the 2d. paragraph authorizing the Legislre. to alter
the number from time to time according to wealth & inhabitants. The motion
was agreed to nem. con.
On 4 Question on the 2d. paragh. taken
without any debate
Masts. ay. Cont. ay. N. Y. no. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N.
C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. 5
Mr. SHERMAN moved to refer the 1st. part
apportioning the Representatives, to a Comme. of a member from each State.
Mr. GOVr. MORRIS
seconded the motion; observing that this was the only case in which such
Committees were useful.
Mr. WILLIAMSON. thought it would be
necessary to return to the rule of numbers, but that the Western States stood on
different footing. If their property shall 6
be rated as high as that of the Atlantic States, then their representation ought
to hold a like proportion. Otherwise if their property was not to be equally
Mr. GOVr. MORRIS.
The Report is little more than a guess. Wealth was not altogether disregarded by
the Come. Where it was apparently in favor of one State, whose nos. were
superior to the numbers of another, by a fraction only, a member extraordinary
was allowed to the former: and so vice versa. The Committee meant little more
than to bring the matter to a point for the consideration of the House.
Mr. REED asked why Georgia was allowed 2
members, when her number of inhabitants had stood below that of Delaware.
Mr. GOVr. MORRIS.
Such is the rapidity of the population of that State, that before the plan takes
effect, it will probably be entitled to 2 Representatives.
Mr. RANDOLPH. disliked the report of the
Come. but had been unwilling to object to it. He was apprehensive that as the
number was not to be changed till the Natl. Legislature should please, a pretext
would never be wanting to postpone alterations, and keep the power in the hands
of those possessed of it. He was in favor of the commitmt. to a member from each
Mr. PATTERSON considered the proposed
estimate for the future according to the Combined rule 7
of numbers and wealth, as too vague. For this reason N. Jersey was agst. it. He
could regard negroes
8 slaves in no light but as property. They
are no free agents, have no personal liberty, no faculty of acquiring property,
but on the contrary are themselves property, & like other property entirely
at the will of the Master. Has a man in Virga. a number of votes in proportion
to the number of his slaves? And if Negroes are not represented in the States to
which they belong, why should they be represented in the Genl. Govt. What is the
true principle of Representation? It is an expedient by which an assembly of
certain individls. chosen by the people is substituted in place of the
inconvenient meeting of the people themselves. If such a meeting of the people
was actually to take place, would the slaves vote? They would not. Why then shd.
they be represented. He was also agst. such an indirect encouragemt. of the
slave trade; observing that Congs. in their act relating to the change of the 8
art: of Confedn. had been ashamed to use the term "slaves" & had
substituted a description.
Mr. MADISON, reminded Mr. Patterson that
his doctrine of Representation which was in its principle the genuine one, must
for ever silence the pretensions of the small States to an equality of votes
with the large ones. They ought to vote in the same proportion in which their
citizens would do, if the people of all the States were collectively met. He
suggested as a proper ground of compromise, that in the first branch the States
should be represented according to their number of free inhabitants; and in the
2d. which had for one of its primary objects the guardianship of property,
according to the whole number, including slaves.
Mr. BUTLER urged warmly the justice &
necessity of regarding wealth in the apportionment of Representation.
Mr. KING had always expected that as the
Southern States are the richest, they would not league themselves with the
Northn. unless some respect were paid to their superior wealth. If the latter
expect those preferential distinctions in Commerce & other advantages which
they will derive from the connection they must not expect to receive them
without allowing some advantages in return. Eleven out of 13 of the States had
agreed to consider Slaves in the apportionment of taxation; and taxation and
Representation ought to go together.
On the question for committing the first paragraph of the Report to a member
from each State.
Masts. ay. Cont. ay. N. Y. no. N. J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N.
C. ay. S. C. no. Geo. ay. 9
The Come. appointed were Mr. King. Mr. Sherman, Mr. Yates, Mr. Brearly, Mr.
Govr. Morris, Mr. Reed, Mr. Carrol, Mr. Madison, Mr. Williamson, Mr. Rutledge,
1. The Roman numerals "I" and "II"
are omitted in the transcript.
2. The word "rule" is
substituted in the transcript for "rate."
3. The word "by" is omitted in
4. The word "the" is here
inserted in the transcript.
5. In the transcript the vote reads: "Massachusetts,
Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South
Carolina, Georgia, aye — 9; New York, New Jersey, no — 2."
6. The word "should" is
substituted in the transcript for "shall."
7. The transcript uses the word "rule"
in the plural.
8. The transcript uses the word "negroes"
in the singular.
9. In the transcript the vote reads: "Massachusetts,
Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North
Carolina, Georgia, aye — 9; New York, South Carolina, no — 2."