Article 1, Section 4, Clause 1

Document 3

Vox Populi, no. 1

29 Oct. 1787Storing 4.4.2--6

By this clause, the time, place and manner of choosing representatives is wholly at the disposal of Congress.

Why the Convention, who formed the proposed Constitution, wished to invest Congress with such a power, I am by no means capable of saying; or why the good people of this commonwealth should delegate such a power to them, is no less hard to determine.--But as the subject is open for discussion, I shall make a little free inquiry into the matter.

And, first. What national advantage is there to be acquired by giving them such a power?

The only advantage which I have heard proposed by it is, to prevent a partial representation of the several states in Congress; "for if the time, manner and place were left wholly in the hands of the state legislatures, it is probable they would not make provision by appointing time, manner and place for election; in which case there could be no election, and consequently the federal government weakened."

But this provision is by no means sufficient to prevent an evil of that nature; for will any reasonable man suppose, that when the legislature of any state, who are annually chosen, are so corrupt as to break thro' that government which they have formed, and refuse to appoint time, place and manner of choosing representatives--I say, can any person suppose, that a state, so corrupt, would not be full as likely to neglect, or even refuse, to choose representatives at the time and place and in the manner prescribed by Congress? Surely they would.--So it could answer no good national purpose on that account; and I have not heard any other national advantage proposed thereby.

We will now proceed, in the next place, to consider why the people of this commonwealth should vest Congress with such a power.--

No one proposes that it would be any advantage to the people of this state; therefore, it must be considered as a matter of indifference, except there is an opportunity for its operating to their disadvantage: in which case, I conceive it ought to be disapprobated.

Whether there is danger of its operating to the good people's disadvantage, shall now be the subject of our inquiry.--

Supposing Congress should direct, that the representatives of this commonwealth should be chosen all in one town, (Boston, for instance) on the first day of March--would not that be a very injurious institution to the good people of this commonwealth?--Would not there be at least nine-tenths of the landed interest of this commonwealth intirely unrepresented? Surely one may reasonably imagine there would. What, then, would be the case if Congress should think proper to direct, that the elections should be held at the north-west, south-west or north-east part of the state, the last day of March? How many electors would there attend the business?--And it is a little remarkable, that any gentleman should suppose, that Congress could possibly be in any measure as good judges of the time, place and manner of elections as the legislatures of the several respective states.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 2, Article 1, Section 4, Clause 1, Document 3
The University of Chicago Press

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

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