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Article 1, Section 4, Clause 1



Document 2

Federal Farmer, no. 3

10 Oct. 1787Storing 2.8.25

The branches of the legislature are essential parts of the fundamental compact, and ought to be so fixed by the people, that the legislature cannot alter itself by modifying the elections of its own members. This, by a part of Art. 1. Sect. 4. the general legislature may do, it may evidently so regulate elections as to secure the choice of any particular description of men.--It may make the whole state one district--make the capital, or any places in the state, the place or places of election--it may declare that the five men (or whatever the number may be the state may chuse) who shall have the most votes shall be considered as chosen--In this case it is easy to perceive how the people who live scattered in the inland towns will bestow their votes on different men--and how a few men in a city, in any order or profession, may unite and place any five men they please highest among those that may be voted for--and all this may be done constitutionally, and by those silent operations, which are not immediately perceived by the people in general.--I know it is urged, that the general legislature will be disposed to regulate elections on fair and just principles:--This may be true--good men will generally govern well with almost any constitution: but why in laying the foundation of the social system, need we unnecessarily leave a door open to improper regulations?--This is a very general and unguarded clause, and many evils may flow from that part which authorises the congress to regulate elections--Were it omitted, the regulations of elections would be solely in the respective states, where the people are substantially represented; and where the elections ought to be regulated, otherwise to secure a representation from all parts of the community, in making the constitution, we ought to provide for dividing each state into a proper number of districts, and for confining the electors in each district to the choice of some men, who shall have a permanent interest and residence in it; and also for this essential object, that the representative elected shall have a majority of the votes of those electors who shall attend and give their votes.


The Founders' Constitution
Volume 2, Article 1, Section 4, Clause 1, Document 2
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a1_4_1s2.html
The University of Chicago Press

Storing, Herbert J., ed. The Complete Anti-Federalist. 7 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.

Easy to print version.


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