The Debates in the
Federal Convention of 1787
It being moved to postpone the clause in the Report of the Committee of
Eleven as to the originating of money bills in the 1
first branch, in order to take up the following "that in the 2d. branch
each State shall have an equal voice."
Mr. GERRY, moved to add as an amendment
to the last clause agreed to by the House, "that from the first meeting of
the Legislature of the U. S. till a census shall be taken all monies to be
raised for supplying the public Treasury by direct taxation, shall be assessed
on the inhabitants of the several States according to the number of their
Representatives respectively in the 1st. branch." He said this would be as
just before as after the Census: according to the general principle that
taxation & Representation ought to go together.
Mr. WILLIAMSON feared that N. Hamshire
will have reason to complain. 3 members were allotted to her as a liberal
allowance, for this reason among others, that she might not suppose any
advantage to have been taken of her absence. As she was still absent, and had no
opportunity of deciding whether she would chuse to retain the number on the
condition, of her being taxed in proportion to it, he thought the number ought
to be reduced from three to two, before the question 2
on Mr. G's motion.
Mr. READ could not approve of the
proposition. He had observed he said in the Committee a backwardness in some of
the members from the large States, to take their full proportion of
Representatives. He did not then see the motive. He now suspects it was to avoid
their due share of taxation. He had no objection to a just & accurate
adjustment of Representation & taxation to each other.
Mr. GOVr. MORRIS
& Mr. MADISON answered that the charge
itself involved an acquittal, since notwithstanding the augmentation of the
number of members allotted to Masts. & Va. the motion for proportioning the
burdens thereto was made by a member from the former State & was approved by
Mr-M from the latter who was on the Come. Mr. Govr. Morris said that he thought
Pa. had her due share in 8 members; and he could not in candor ask for more. Mr.
M. said that having always conceived that the difference of interest in the U,
States lay not between the large & small, but the N. & Southn. States,
and finding that the number of members allotted to the N. States was greatly
superior, he should have preferred, an addition of two members to the S. States,
to wit one to N. & 1 to S. Carla. rather than of one member to Virga. He
liked the present motion, because it tended to moderate the views both of the
opponents & advocates for rating very high, the negroes.
Mr. ELSEWORTH hoped the proposition
would be withdrawn. It entered too much into detail. The general principle was
already sufficiently settled. As fractions can not be regarded in apportioning
the No. of representatives, the rule will be unjust, until an actual
census shall be made. After that taxation may be precisely proportioned
according to the principle established, to the number of inhabitants.
Mr. WILSON hoped the motion would not be
withdrawn. If it shd. it will be made from another quarter. The rule will be as
reasonable & just before, as after a Census. As to fractional numbers, the
Census will not distroy, but ascertain them. And they will have the same effect
after as before the Census: for as he understands the rule, it is to be adjusted
not to the number of inhabitants, but of Representatives.
Mr. SHERMAN opposed the motion. He
thought the Legislature ought to be left at liberty: in which case they would
probably conform to the principles observed by Congs.
Mr. MASON did not know that Virga. would
be a loser by the proposed regulation, but had some scruple as to the justice of
it. He doubted much whether the conjectural rule which was to precede the
Census, would be as just, as it would be rendered by an actual census.
Mr. ELSEWORTH & Mr. SHERMAN moved to postpone the motion of Mr. Gerry, on ye.
question, it passed in the negative. Mas. no. Cont. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. no. Del.
ay. Md. ay. Va. no. N.C. no. S.C.no. Geo. no. 3
4 Question on Mr. Gerry's motion; it
passed in the negative, the States being equally divided.
Mas.ay. Cont.no. N. J. no. Pa. ay. Del.no. Md. no. Va. no.
N.C. ay. S.C. ay. Geo. ay. 5
Mr. GERRY finding that the loss of the
question had proceeded from an objection with some, to the proposed assessment
of direct taxes on the inhabitants of the States, which might restrain
the Legislature to a poll tax, moved his proposition again, but so varied as to
authorise the assessment on the States, which wd. leave 6
the mode to the Legislature, at this caret insert the words interlined
7 viz "that from the 1st. meeting of
the Legislature of the U. S. untill a census shall be taken, all monies for
supplying the public Treasury by direct taxation shall be raised from the said
several States according to the number of their representatives respectively in
the 1st. branch."
On this varied question, it passed in the affirmative
Mas.ay. Cont.no. N.J.no. Pa.divd. Del.no. Md.no. va.ay. N.C.ay. S.C.ay.
On the motion of Mr. Randolph, the vote of Saturday 9
last authorising the Legislre. to adjust from time to time, the representation
upon the principles of wealth & numbers of inhabitants was
reconsidered by common consent in order to strike out "Wealth"
10 and adjust the resolution to that
requiring periodical revisions according to the number of whites & three
fifths of the blacks: the motion was in the words following — "But as
the present situation of the States may probably alter in the number of their
inhabitants, that the Legislature of the U. S. be authorized from time to time
to apportion the number of representatives: and in case any of the States shall
hereafter be divided or any two or more States united or new States created
within the limits of the U. S. the Legislature of
11 U. S. shall possess authority to
regulate the number of Representatives in any of the foregoing cases, upon the
principle of their number of inhabitants; according to the provisions hereafter
Mr. GOVr. MORRIS
opposed the alteration as leaving still an incoherence. If Negroes were to be
viewed as inhabitants, and the revision was to proceed on the principle of
numbers of inhabts. they ought to be added in their entire number, and not in
the proportion of 3/5 . If as property, the word wealth was right, and striking
it out, would produce the very inconsistency which it was meant to get rid of. —
The train of business & the late turn which it had taken, had led him he
said, into deep meditation on it, and He wd. candidly state the result. A
distinction had been set up & urged, between the Nn. & Southn. States.
He had hitherto considered this doctrine as heretical. He still thought the
distinction groundless. He sees however that it is persisted in, and that the
Southn. Gentlemen will not be satisfied unless they see the way open to their
gaining a majority in the public Councils. The consequence of such a transfer of
power from the maritime to the interior & landed interest will he foresees
be such an oppression of
12 commerce, that he shall be obliged to
vote for ye. vicious principle of equality in the 2d. branch in order to provide
some defence for the N. States agst. it. But to come more to the point; either
this distinction is fictitious or real; if fictitious let it be dismissed &
let us proceed with due confidence. If it be real, instead of attempting to
blend incompatible things, let us at once take a friendly leave of each other.
There can be no end of demands for security if every particular interest is to
be entitled to it. The Eastern States may claim it for their fishery, and for
other objects, as the Southn. States claim it for their peculiar objects. In
this struggle between the two ends of the Union, what part ought the middle
States in point of policy to take: to join their Eastern brethren according to
his ideas. If the Southn. States get the power into their hands, and be joined
as they will be with the interior Country, they will inevitably bring on a war
with Spain for the Mississippi. This language is already held. the interior
Country having no property nor interest exposed on the sea, will be little
affected by such a war. He wished to know what security the Northn. & middle
States will have agst. this danger. It has been said that N. C. S. C., and
Georgia only will in a little time have a majority of the people of America.
They must in that case include the great interior Country, and every thing was
to be apprehended from their getting the power into their hands.
Mr. BUTLER. The security the Southn.
States want is that their negroes may not be taken from them, which some
gentlemen within or without doors, have a very good mind to do. It was not
supposed that N. C. S. C. & Geo. would have more people than all the other
States, but many more relatively to the other States than they now have. The
people & strength of America are evidently bearing Southwardly & S.
Mr. WILSON. If a general declaration
would satisfy any gentleman he had no indisposition to declare his sentiments.
Conceiving that all men wherever placed have equal rights and are equally
entitled to confidence, he viewed without apprehension the period when a few
States should contain the superior number of people. The majority of people
wherever found ought in all questions to govern the minority. If the interior
Country should acquire this majority, it will not only have the right, but will
avail themselves 13 of it whether we will
or no. This jealousy misled the policy of G. Britain with regard to America. The
fatal maxims espoused by her were that the Colonies were growing too fast, and
that their growth must be stinted in time. What were the consequences? first.
enmity on our part, then actual separation. Like consequences will result on the
part of the interior settlements, if like jealousy & policy be pursued on
ours. Further, if numbers be not a proper rule, why is not some better rule
pointed out. No one has yet ventured to attempt it. Congs. have never been able
to discover a better. No State as far as he had heard, has suggested any other.
In 1783, after elaborate discussion of a measure of wealth all were satisfied
then as they are now that the rule of numbers, does not differ much from the
combined rule of numbers & wealth. Again he could not agree that property
was the sole or the 14 primary object of
Governt. & society. The cultivation & improvement of the human mind was
the most noble object. With respect to this object, as well as to other personal
rights, numbers were surely the natural & precise measure of Representation.
And with respect to property, they could not vary much from the precise measure.
In no point of view however could the establishmt. of numbers as the rule of
representation in the 1st. branch vary his opinion as to the impropriety of
letting a vicious principle into the 2d. branch. — On the Question to
strike out wealth, & to make the change as moved by Mr. Randolph, it
passed in the affirmative —
Mas. ay. Cont. ay. N. J. ay. Pa. ay. Del. divd. Md. ay. Va. ay. N. C. ay. S.
C. ay. Geo. ay. 15
Mr. REED moved to insert after the word —
"divided," "or enlarged by addition of territory" which was
agreed to nem. con. [his object probably was to provide for such cases as an
enlargemt. of Delaware by annexing to it the Peninsula on the East side of
1. The word "the" is not
italicized in the transcript.
2. The words "was taken" are
here inserted in the transcript.
3. In the transcript the vote reads: "Connecticut,
New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, aye — 4; Massachusetts, Pennsylvania,
Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no — 6."
4. The words "On the" are here
inserted in the transcript.
5. In the transcript the vote reads: "Massachusetts,
Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina. Georgia, aye — 5;
Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, no — 5."
6. The word "leaves" is
substituted in the transcript for "wd. leave."
7. Madison's direction concerning the
interlined words is omitted in the transcript.
8. In the transcript the vote reads: "Massachusetts,
Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye — 5; Connecticut,
New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, no — 4; Pennsylvania, divided."
9. The word "Saturday" is
changed to "Monday" in the transcript.
10. The transcript italicizes the word "Wealth."
11. The word "the" is here
inserted in the transcript.
12. The word "to" is
substituted in the transcript for "of."
13. The word "itself" is
substituted in the transcript for "themselves."
14. The word "the" is omitted
in the transcript.
15. In the transcript the vote reads: "Massachusetts,
Connecticut New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South
Carolina, Georgia, aye — 9; Delaware, divided."
16. The word "the" is here
inserted in the transcript; and the sentence in brackets is a footnote.