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13

Representation



CHAPTER 13 | Document 15

Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 13, 118--19

1784

This constitution was formed when we were new and unexperienced in the science of government. It was the first too which was formed in the whole United States. No wonder then that time and trial have discovered very capital defects in it.

1. The majority of the men in the state, who pay and fight for its support, are unrepresented in the legislature, the roll of freeholders intitled to vote, not including generally the half of those on the roll of the militia, or of the tax-gatherers.

2. Among those who share the representation, the shares are very unequal. Thus the county of Warwick, with only one hundred fighting men, has an equal representation with the county of Loudon, which has 1746. So that every man in Warwick has as much influence in the government as 17 men in Loudon. But lest it should be thought that an equal interspersion of small among large counties, through the whole state, may prevent any danger of injury to particular parts of it, we will divide it into districts, and shew the proportions of land, of fighting men, and of representation in each.

Square miles

Fighting men

Delegates

Senators

Between the seacoast and falls of the rivers

}

11,205

19,012

71

12

Between the falls of the rivers and the Blue ridge of mountains

}

18,759

18,828

46

8

Between the Blue ridge and the Alleghaney

}

11,911

7,673

16

2

Between the Alleghaney and Ohio

}

79,650

4,458

16

2

Total

121,525

49,971

149

24

An inspection of this table will supply the place of commentaries on it. It will appear at once that nineteen thousand men, living below the falls of the rivers, possess half the senate, and want four members only of possessing a majority of the house of delegates; a want more than supplied by the vicinity of their situation to the seat of government, and of course the greater degree of convenience and punctuality with which their members may and will attend in the legislature. These nineteen thousand, therefore, living in one part of the country, give law to upwards of thirty thousand, living in another, and appoint all their chief officers executive and judiciary. From the difference of their situation and circumstances, their interests will often be very different.


The Founders' Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 13, Document 15
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/v1ch13s15.html
The University of Chicago Press

Jefferson, Thomas. Notes on the State of Virginia. Edited by William Peden. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Virginia, 1954.

Easy to print version.


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