|Notes on the Debates in the Federal Convention
By James Madison
July 9, 1787
Monday July 9, 1787
Mr. Daniel Carroll from Maryland took his Seat.
Mr. Govr. MORRIS delivered a report from the Committee of five members to whom was committed the clause in the
Report of the Committee consisting of a member from each State, stating the proper ratio of Representatives in the 1st
branch, to be as one 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. That in the 1st meeting of the Legislature the 1st branch thereof consist of 56 members of which Number, New Hampshire
shall have 2. Massachusetts, 7. Rhode Island 1. Connecticut, 4. New York, 5. New Jersey, 3. Pennsylvania, 8. Delaware, 1.
Maryland, 4. Virginia, 9. North Carolina, 5. South Carolina, 5. Georgia,2.
II. 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 the 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 Congress.
Mr. GORHAM. Some provision of this sort was necessary in the outset. The number of blacks and whites with some regard
to supposed wealth was the general guide fractions could not be observed. The Legislature is to make alterations from time to
time as justice and propriety may require. Two objections prevailed against the rate of one member for every 40,000
inhabitants. The first was that the Representation would soon be too numerous: the second that the Western 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 the
Government 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 Committee were guided in the ratio, by the wealth or number of inhabitants, of
the States, or by both; noting its variations from former apportionments by Congress.
Mr. Govr. MORRIS and Mr. RUTLIDGE moved to postpone the first paragraph relating to the number of members to be
allowed each State in the first instance, and to take up the second paragraph authorizing the Legislature to alter the number
from time to time according to wealth and inhabitants. The motion was agreed to nem con.
On Question on the second Paragraph taken without any debate:
Massachusetts, aye. Connecticut, ay. New York, no. New Jersey, no. Pennsylvania, aye. Delaware, aye. Maryland, aye.
Virginia, aye. North Carolina, aye. South Carolina, aye. Georgia, aye.
Mr. SHERMAN moved to refer the first part, apportioning the Representatives, to a Committee 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 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 rated.
Mr. Govr. MORRIS. The Report is little more than a guess. Wealth was not altogether disregarded by the Committee. Where
it was apparently in favor of one State, whose numbers 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 two 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 two Representatives.
Mr. RANDOLPH disliked the report of the Committee but had been unwilling to object to it. He was apprehensive that as the
number was not to be changed till the National 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 commitment to a member from
Mr. PATTERSON considered the proposed estimate for the future according to the Combined rule of numbers and wealth, as
too vague. For this reason New Jersey was against it. He could regard negro slaves in no light but as property. They are not
free agents, have no personal liberty, no faculty of acquiring property, but on the contrary are themselves property, and like
other property entirely at the will of the Master. Has a man in Virginia 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 General
What is the true principle of Representation? It is an expedient by which an assembly of certain individuals 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 should they be represented. He was also against
such an indirect encouragement of the slave trade; observing that Congress in their act relating to the change of the Eighth
Article of Confederation had been ashamed to use the term "slaves" and 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 2nd which had for one of its primary objects the guardianship of property, according to the whole number,
Mr. BUTLER urged warmly the justice and 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
Northern unless some respect were paid to their superior wealth. If the latter expect those preferential distinctions in
Commerce and 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.
Massachusetts, aye. Connecticut, aye. New York, no. New Jersey, aye. Pennsylvania, aye. Delaware, aye. Maryland, aye.
Virginia, aye. North Carolina, aye. South Carolina, no. Georgia, aye.
The Committee appointed were Mr. King, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Yates, Mr. Brearly, Mr. Govr. Morris, Mr. Reed, Mr. Carrol,
Mr. Madison, Mr. Williamson, Mr. Rutledge, Mr. Houston.
|The Illinois Conservative