Article 1, Section 1
James Iredell, North Carolina Ratifying Convention25 July 1788Elliot 4:38--39
I believe sir, it was the general sense of all America, with the exception only of one state, in forming their own state constitutions, that the legislative body should be divided into two branches, in order that the people might have a double security. It will often happen that, in a single body, a bare majority will carry exceptionable and pernicious measures. The violent faction of a party may often form such a majority in a single body, and by that means the particular views or interests of a part of the community may be consulted, and those of the rest neglected or injured. Is there a single gentleman in this Convention, who has been a member of the legislature, who has not found the minority in the most important questions to be often right? Is there a man here, who has been in either house, who has not at some times found the most solid advantages from the coöperation or opposition of the other? If a measure be right, which has been approved of by one branch, the other will probably confirm it; if it be wrong, it is fortunate that there is another branch to oppose or amend it. These principles probably formed one reason for the institution of a Senate, in the form of government before us. Another arose from the peculiar nature of that government, as connected with the government of the particular states.
The general government will have the protection and management of the general interests of the United States. The local and particular interests of the different states are left to their respective legislatures. All affairs which concern this state only are to be determined by our representatives coming from all parts of the state; all affairs which concern the Union at large are to be determined by representatives coming from all parts of the Union. Thus, then, the general government is to be taken care of, and the state governments to be preserved. The former is done by a numerous representation of the people of each state, in proportion to its importance. The latter is effected by giving each state an equal representation in the Senate. The people will be represented in one house, the state legislatures in the other.
Many are of the opinion that the power of the Senate is too great; but I cannot think so, considering the great weight which the House of Representatives will have. Several reasons may be assigned for this. The House of Representatives will be more numerous than the Senate. They will represent the immediate interests of the people. They will originate all money bills, which is one of the greatest securities in any republican government. The respectability of their constituents, who are the free citizens of America, will add great weight to the representatives; for a power derived from the people is the source of all real honor, and a demonstration of confidence which a man of any feeling would be more ambitious to possess, than any other honor or any emolument whatever. There is, therefore, always a danger of such a house becoming too powerful, and it is necessary to counteract its influence by giving great weight and authority to the other. I am warranted by well-known facts in my opinion that the representatives of the people at large will have more weight than we should be induced to believe from a slight consideration.
Elliot, Jonathan, ed. The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution as Recommended by the General Convention at Philadelphia in 1787. . . . 5 vols. 2d ed. 1888. Reprint. New York: Burt Franklin, n.d.
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