The 1787 Constitutional Convention – Delegates Continued Representation Debate

a570af34_optJuly 10, 1787


New York delegates Yates and Lansing left the convention today. The committee led by Gouverneur Morris recommended the House of Representatives consist of 65 representatives among the 13 states.

Influence on the Delegates

Again, there was little specific today. The delegates haggled over the number of representatives, whether to double their number and how many to allow from various states. Morris used the experience of the states for his argument against a census.

Mr. GOUVERNEUR 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 unfixed, the Legislature may use such a mode as will defeat the object; and perpetuate the inequality. He was always against such shackles on the Legislature. They had been found very pernicious in most of the State Constitutions. He dwelt much on the danger of throwing such a preponderance into the western scale; suggesting that in time the western people would 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 Legislature are left at liberty, they will never re-adjust the representation. He admitted that this was possible, but he did not think it probable, unless the reasons against a revision of it were very urgent; and in this case, it ought not to be done.

As I have noted many times over the past weeks, the delegates did not go to theology or Bible verses to defend or create their positions.