Skip to comments.Journal of the Federal Convention July 10th 1787
Posted on 07/10/2011 2:55:15 AM PDT by Jacquerie
Apportionment in First House of Reps. Population Statistics. Slavery. Trade. Periodic Census.
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, to wit.
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 poor State.
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 [FN1] 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 [FN2] 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 between the [FN3] 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 [FN4] 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. [FN5] to make it the duty instead of leaving it in [FN6] the discretion of the Legislature to regulate the representation by a periodical census. 2. [FN5] 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. [FN7] S. C. ay. Geo. no. [FN7] [FN8]
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. [FN9]
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. [FN10]
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 the Negative
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. [FN11]
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 only.
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 [FN12] New States the highest number of Reps. for the whole might be limited, and all danger of excess thereby prevented.
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. [FN13]
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. [FN14]
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 [FN15] 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 [FN16] voting in the affirmative.
FN1 The words "therefore may" are transposed to red "may therefore" in the transcript.
FN2 The words "had indeed" are transposed to red "indeed had" in the transcript.
FN3 The word "the" is omitted in the transcript.
FN4 The word "feared" is substituted in the transcript for "fears."
FN5 The figures "1" and "2" are changed to "first" and "secondly" in the transcript.
FN7 In the printed Journal N. C. no. Georgia ay
FN8 In the transcript the vote reads: "North Carolina, [FN7] South Carolina, aye- ; Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, [FN7] no-8."
FN9 In the transcript the vote reads: "North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye-3; Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, no-7."
FN10 In the transcript the vote reads: "Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye-4: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, no-7."
FN11 In the transcript the vote reads: "Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, aye-4; Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, no-7."
FN12 The word "the" is here inserted in the transcript.
FN13 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."
FN14 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."
FN15 The word "preponderancy" is changed to "preponderance" in the transcript.
FN16 The word "alone" is substituted in the transcript for "only."
Rufus King (MA), from yesterdays committee, reported 65 members for the first meeting of the House. (Large states MA, PA, VA would lose a small percentage of votes compared to yesterday.)
Northern States, NH, MA, RI, CN, NY, NJ, PA, DE 36 votes.
Southern States, MD, VA, NC, SC, GA 29 votes.
(To view various figures and ratios regarding white and black populations, click Here and scroll down. Of surprise to me was not the equality of blacks to whites in Southern States, but of equality in PA, RI and DE! Every State had a slave population.)
John Rutlidge (SC) motioned and General Pinckney (SC) seconded to reduce NH from 3 to 2. It did not have the population and was a poor state.
Rufus King (MA) complained the Eastern states (NH, RI, CN, MA 17 votes) with 800,000 people had one third fewer reps than the Southern states (GA, SC, NC, VA 23 votes) with 700,000 freeman plus black property. The people of the Eastern states would not stand for gross inequality. (The Eastern and Middle states would dominate the Senate. As a concession, black slave property was accorded 3/5 in order to allow greater southern state influence in the House.)
General Pinckney (SC) mixed North/South apportionment with regulation of commerce concerns. (Notice how an apportionment resolution quickly moved to remarks regarding slavery and trade. Many clauses of our Constitution depended upon other clauses, powers, restrictions and guarantees.) p>
Hugh Williamson (NC) viewed the Southern interest as endangered. Without changes, the North could perpetuate its Congressional majority without end.
Jonathan Dayton (NJ) saw PA as the dividing line between North and South.
General Pinckney (SC) accorded more wealth to the Southern States, which should be reflected in the House, and supported the reduction for NH.
Governeur Morris (PA) chastised the delegates for representing narrow state interests rather than protecting American interests. Southern states placed too much emphasis on property. Southern money, Northern blood. (Reference to relative contributions during the revolution?) He discounted the amount of tax revenue expected from the South.
(Mr. Morris implied that tax collections would be in the form of requisitions, as it was supposed to be under the Articles of Confederation)
Governor Edmund Randolph did not contest the apportionments because he was apparently confident the Constitution would end up with a periodic census and supermajority requirements for certain types of legislation. (Since everyone expected new Southern States to grow faster, a regular census for reapportionment would be a Southern demand. As for trade, the Southern fear was that the Northern dominated Congress, while accepting Slavery, could relieve the South of most agricultural profits derived from Slavery via taxes on exports.)
The motion to reduce NH from three to two reps was defeated 9-2.
General Pinckney (SC) and Alexander Martin (NC) also lost a motion to increase NC from five to six.
General Pinckney (SC) and Pierce Butler (SC) lost a similar bid for SC.
General Pinckney (SC) and William Houston (GA), ditto for GA.
James Madison (VA) moved to double all apportionments. Thirty-three members to pass most legislation was too small to represent the people of the United States. The expense involved was inconsequential to the need.
Judge Oliver Ellsworth (CN) did not like the additional expense. Too many reps plagued state legislatures, would retard the speed with which legislation would move, and were not needed in a general government limited to national objects only. (Remember this on 16 July when the Convention gets around to enumerating powers)
Roger Sherman (CN) wished to reduce the total number to fifty, and reminded members of the difficulty of travel, especially from the new Western states.
Elbridge Gerry (MA) would make the House larger because members will be less susceptible to corruption. Congress should establish an upper limit to the size of the House.
George Mason (VA) also supported a larger House in which members had better knowledge of local issues.
Judge George Read (DE) favored a doubling of members. Should one rep become sick or injured, the people would not lose representation.
John Rutlidge (SC) did not support the motion. There was no fear (as under the Articles) that so many members would not show up as to prevent a quorum. He supposed the Congress should not sit for more than six or eight weeks per year.
The motion to double House membership was defeated 9-2.
The motion to accept the House apportionment plan of the committee passed 9-2.
Jacob Broome (DE) notified the Convention that his last vote for proportional representation was contingent on equality of State suffrage in the Senate.
Governor Edmund Randolph motioned an amendment to the committee of five for what became the decennial census.
Governeur Morris (PA) did not wish to shackle the legislature too much. (Baloney. He blew smoke in the form of tempting the South to join the North in restricting the representation of new Western States. The Southern States would never allow a Northern dominated Congress to determine when to conduct reapportionment census.) He foresaw possible abuse and besides, it would make it harder to dominate the new Western States.
A motion to postpone Mr. Randolphs motion was defeated.
(C.D. Bowen in her Miracle at Philadelphia attributed Luther Martin (MD) as saying, We were on the verge of dissolution, scarce held together by the strength of an hair, though the public papers were announcing our extreme unanimity. A visiting French Officer who served General Washington, described his look as reminding him of its expression during the terrible months at Valley Forge. George Washington wrote, I almost despair of seeing a favorable issue to the proceedings of the Convention, and do therefore repent having had any agency in the business.)
Constitutional Convention Ping!
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