Article 1, Section 2, Clause 2
Wilson Nicholas, Virginia Ratifying Convention4 June 1788Elliot 3:8--9
Secondly, as it respects the qualifications of the elected. It has ever been considered a great security to liberty, that very few should be excluded from the right of being chosen to the legislature. This Constitution has amply attended to this idea. We find no qualifications required except those of age and residence, which create a certainty of their judgment being matured, and of being attached to their state. It has been objected, that they ought to be possessed of landed estates; but, sir, when we reflect that most of the electors are landed men, we must suppose they will fix on those who are in a similar situation with themselves. We find there is a decided majority attached to the landed interest; consequently, the landed interest must prevail in the choice. Should the state be divided into districts, in no one can the mercantile interest by any means have an equal weight in the elections; therefore, the former will be more fully represented in the Congress; and men of eminent abilities are not excluded for the want of landed property.
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.
© 1987 by The University of Chicago