The Debates in the
Federal Convention of 1787
Mr. KING reported from the Come.
yesterday appointed that the States at the 1st. meeting of the General
Legislature, should be represented by 65 members in the following proportions,
N. Hamshire by 3. Masts. 8. R. 1st. 1. Cont. 5. N. Y. 6. N. J. 4. Pa. 8.
Del. 1. Md. 6. Va. 10. N. C. 5. S. C. 5. Georgia 3.
Mr. RUTLIDGE moved that N. Hampshire be
reduced from 3 to 2. members. Her numbers did not entitle her to 3 and it was a
Genl. PINKNEY seconds the motion.
Mr. KING. N. Hamshire has probably more
than 120,000 Inhabts. and has an extensive Country of tolerable fertility. Its
inhabts therefore may
1 be expected to increase fast. He
remarked that the four Eastern States having 800,000 souls, have 1/3 fewer
representatives than the four Southern States, having not more than 700,000
souls rating the blacks, as 5 for 3. The Eastern people will advert to these
circumstances, and be dissatisfied. He believed them to be very desirous of
uniting with their Southern brethren, but did not think it prudent to rely so
far on that disposition as to subject them to any gross inequality. He was fully
convinced that the question concerning a difference of interests did not lie
where it had hitherto been discussed, between the great & small States; but
between the Southern & Eastern. For this reason he had been ready to yield
something in the proportion of representatives for the security of the Southern.
No principle would justify the giving them a majority. They were brought as near
an equality as was possible. He was not averse to giving them a still greater
security, but did not see how it could be done.
Genl. PINKNEY. The Report before it was
committed was more favorable to the S. States than as it now stands. If they are
to form so considerable a minority, and the regulation of trade is to be given
to the Genl. Government, they will be nothing more than overseers for the
Northern States. He did not expect the S. States to be raised to a majority of
representatives, but wished them to have something like an equality. At present
by the alterations of the Come. in favor of the N. States they are removed
farther from it than they were before. One member had indeed 2
been added to Virga. which he was glad of as he considered her as a Southern
State. He was glad also that the members of Georgia were increased.
Mr. WILLIAMSON was not for reducing N.
Hamshire from 3 to 2. but for reducing some others. The Southn. Interest must be
extremely endangered by the present arrangement. The Northn. States are to have
a majority in the first instance and the means of perpetuating it.
Mr. DAYTON observed that the line
3 Northn. & Southern interest had been
improperly drawn: that Pa. was the dividing State, there being six on each side
of her. Genl. PINKNEY urged the reduction,
dwelt on the superior wealth of the Southern States, and insisted on its having
its due weight in the Government.
Mr. GOVr. MORRIS
regretted the turn of the debate. The States he found had many Representatives
on the floor. Few he fears
4 were to be deemed the Representatives of
America. He thought the Southern States have by the report more than their share
of representation. Property ought to have its weight, but not all the weight. If
the Southn. States are to supply money. The Northn. States are to spill their
blood. Besides, the probable Revenue to be expected from the S. States has been
greatly overrated. He was agst. reducing N. Hamshire.
Mr. RANDOLPH was opposed to a reduction
of N. Hamshire, not because she had a full title to three members: but because
it was in his contemplation 1. 5 to make
it the duty instead of leaving it in
6 the discretion of the Legislature to
regulate the representation by a periodical census. 2. 5
to require more than a bare majority of votes in the Legislature in certain
cases, & particularly in commercial cases.
On the question for reducing N. Hamshire from 3 to 2 Represents. it passed
in the negative
Masts. no. Cont. no. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. no. N. C. ay.
*7 S. C. ay. Geo. no. *7,
Genl. PINKNEY and Mr. ALEXr. MARTIN moved that 6
Reps. instead of 5 be allowed to N. Carolina
On the Question, it passed in the negative.
Masts. no. Cont. no. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. no. N. C. ay. S.
C. ay. Geo. ay. 9
Genl. PINKNEY & Mr. BUTLER made the same motion in favor of S. Carolina.
On the Question it passed in the negative
Masts. no. Cont. no. N. Y. no. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. ay. Md. no. Va. no. N.
C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. 10
Genl. PINKNEY & Mr. HOUSTON moved that Georgia be allowed 4 instead of 3 Reps.
urging the unexampled celerity of its population. On the Question, it passed in
Masts. no. Cont. no. N. Y. no. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. no. Md. no. Va. ay. N.
C. ay. S. C. ay. Geo. ay. 11
Mr. MADISON, moved that the number
allowed to each State be doubled. A majority of a Quorum of 65
members, was too small a number to to represent the whole inhabitants of the U.
States; They would not possess enough of the confidence of the people, and wd.
be too sparsely taken from the people, to bring with them all the local
information which would be frequently wanted. Double the number will not be too
great, even with the future additions from New States. The additional expence
was too inconsiderable to be regarded in so important a case. And as far as the
augmentation might be unpopular on that score, the objection was overbalanced by
its effect on the hopes of a greater number of the popular Candidates.
Mr. ELSEWORTH urged the objection of
expence, & that the greater the number, the more slowly would the business
proceed; and the less probably be decided as it ought, at last. He thought the
number of Representatives too great in most of the State Legislatures: and that
a large number was less necessary in the Genl. Legislature than in those of the
States, — as its business would relate to a few great, national Objects
Mr. SHERMAN would have preferred 50 to
65. The great distance they will have to travel will render their attendance
precarious and will make it difficult to prevail on a sufficient number of fit
men to undertake the service. He observed that the expected increase from New
States also deserved consideration.
Mr. GERRY was for increasing the number
beyond 65. The larger the number, the less the danger of their being corrupted.
The people are accustomed to & fond of a numerous representation, and will
consider their rights as better secured by it. The danger of excess in the
number may be guarded agst. by fixing a point within which the number shall
always be kept.
Col. MASON admitted that the objection drawn from
the consideration of expence, had weight both in itself, and as the people might
be affected by it. But he thought it outweighed by the objections agst. the
smallness of the number. 38, will he supposes, as being a majority of 65, form a
quorum. 20 will be a majority of 38. This was certainly too small a number to
make laws for America. They would neither bring with them all the necessary
information relative to various local interests, nor possess the necessary
confidence of the people. After doubling the number, the laws might still be
made by so few as almost to be objectionable on that account.
Mr. READ was in favor of the Motion. Two
of the States [Del. & R. I.] would have but a single member if the aggregate
number should remain at 65. and in case of accident to either of these one State
wd. have no representative present to give explanations or informations of its
interests or wishes. The people would not place their confidence in so small a
number. He hoped the objects of the Genl. Govt. would be much more numerous than
seemed to be expected by some gentlemen, and that they would become more &
more so. As to 12 New States the highest
number of Reps. for the whole might be limited, and all danger of excess thereby
Mr. RUTLIDGE opposed the motion. The
Representatives were too numerous in all the States. The full number allotted to
the States may be expected to attend & the lowest possible quorum shd. not
therefore be considered. The interests of their Constituents will urge their
attendance too strongly for it to be omitted: and he supposed the Genl.
Legislature would not sit more than 6 or 8 weeks in the year.
On the Question for doubling the number, it passed in the negative.
Masts. no. Cont. no. N. Y. no. N. J. no. Pa. no. Del. ay. Md. no. Va. ay. N.
C. no. S. C. no. Geo. no. 13
On the question for agreeing to the apportionment of Reps. as amended by the
last committee, it passed in the affirmative
Mas. ay. Cont. ay. N. Y. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. ay. Md. ay. Va. ay. N.
C. ay. S. C. no. Geo. no. 14
Mr. BROOM gave notice to the House that
he had concurred with a reserve to himself of an intention to claim for his
State an equal voice in the 2d. branch: which he thought could not be denied
after this concession of the small States as to the first branch.
Mr. RANDOLPH moved as an amendment to
the report of the Comme. of five "that in order to ascertain the
alterations in the population & wealth of the several States the Legislature
should be required to cause a census, and estimate to be taken within one year
after its first meeting; and every _____ years thereafter — and that the
Legislre. arrange the Representation accordingly."
Mr. GOVr. MORRIS
opposed it as fettering the Legislature too much. Advantage may be taken of it
in time of war or the apprehension of it, by new States to extort particular
favors. If the mode was to be fixed for taking a census, it might certainly be
extremely inconvenient: if unfixt the Legislature may use such a mode as will
defeat the object: and perpetuate the inequality. He was always agst. such
Shackles on the Legislre. They had been found very pernicious in most of the
State Constitutions. He dwelt much on the danger of throwing such a
preponderancy 15 into the Western Scale,
suggesting that in time the Western people wd. outnumber the Atlantic States. He
wished therefore to put it in the power of the latter to keep a majority of
votes in their own hands. It was objected he said that if the Legislre. are left
at liberty, they will never readjust the Representation. He admitted that this
was possible; but he did not think it probable unless the reasons agst. a
revision of it were very urgent & in this case, it ought not to be done.
It was moved to postpone the proposition of Mr. Randolph in order to take up
the following, viz. "that the Committee of Eleven, to whom was referred the
report of the Committee of five on the subject of Representation, be requested
to furnish the Convention with the principles on which they grounded the Report,"
which was disagreed to: S. C. only 16
voting in the affirmative.
1. The words "therefore may" are
transposed to read "may therefore" in the transcript.
2. The words "had indeed" are
transposed to read "indeed had" in the transcript.
3. The word "the" is omitted in
4. The word "feared" is
substituted in the transcript for "fears."
5. The figures "1" and "2"
are changed to "first" and "secondly" in the transcript.
*7. In the printed Journal N. C. no.
8. In the transcript the vote reads: "North
7 South Carolina, aye — ;
Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland,
7 no — 8."
9. In the transcript the vote reads: "North
Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye — 3; Massachusetts, Connecticut, New
Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, no — 7."
10. In the transcript the vote reads: "Delaware,
North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye — 4: Massachusetts,
Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, no —
11. In the transcript the vote reads: "Virginia,
North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye — 4; Massachusetts,
Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, no —
12. The word "the" is here
inserted in the transcript.
13. In the transcript the vote reads: "Delaware,
Virginia, aye — 2; Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey,
Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no — 9."
14. In the transcript the vote reads: "Massachusetts,
Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia,
North Carolina, aye — 9; South Carolina, Georgia, no — 2."
15. The word "preponderancy" is
changed to "preponderance" in the transcript.
16. The word "alone" is
substituted in the transcript for "only."