Article 1, Section 3, Clauses 1 and 2

[Volume 2, Page 211]

Document 8

Luther Martin, Maryland House of Delegates

29 Nov. 1787Farrand 3:151--54

It must be remembered that in forming the Confederacy the State of Virginia proposed, and obstinately contended (tho unsupported by any other) for representation according to Numbers: and the second resolve now brought forward by an Honourable Member from that State was formed in the same spirit that characteriz'd its representatives in their endeavours to increase its powers and influence in the Federal Government. These Views in the larger States, did not escape the observation of the lesser and meetings in private were formed to counteract them: the subject however was discuss'd with coolness in Convention, and hopes were formed that interest might in some points be brought to Yield to reason, or if not, that at all events the lesser States were not precluded from introducing a different System; and particular Gentlemen were industriously employed in forming such a System at those periods in which Convention were not sitting.

At length the Committee of Detail brought forward their Resolutions which gave to the larger States the same inequality in the Senate that they now are proposed to have in the House of Representatives--Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts would have one half--all the Officers and even the President were to be chosen by the Legislative: so that these three States might have usurped the whole power.

. . . . .

When the principles of opposition were thus formed and brought forward by the 2d. S: respecting the manner of representation, it was urged by a Member of Pennsylvania, that nothing but necessity had induced the larger States to give up in forming the Confederacy, the Equality of Representation according to numbers--That all governments flowed from the People and that their happiness being the end of governments they ought to have an equal Representation. On the contrary it was urged by the unhappy Advocates of the Jersey System that all people were equally Free, and had an equal Voice if they could meet in a general Assembly of the whole. But because one Man was stronger it afforded no reason why he might injure another, nor because ten leagued together, they should have the power to injure five; this would destroy all equallity. That each State when formed, was in a State of Nature as to others, and had the same rights as Individuals in a State of Nature--If the State Government had equal Authority, it was the same as if Individuals were present, because the State Governments originated and flowed from the Individuals that compose the State, and the Liberty of each State was what each Citizen enjoyed in his own State and no inconvenience had yet been experienced from the inequality of representation in the present Federal Government. Taxation and representation go hand and hand, on the principle alone that, none should be taxed who are not represented; But as to the Quantum, those who possess the property pay only in proportion to the protection they receive--The History of all Nations and sense of Mankind shew, that in all former Confederacies every State had an equal voice. Moral History points out the necessity that each State should vote equally--In the Cantons of Switzerland those of Be[r]ne & Lucerne have more Territory than all the others, yet each State has an equal voice in the General Assembly. The Congress in forming the Confederacy adopted this rule on the principle of Natural right--Virginia then objected. This Federal Government was submitted to the consideration of the Legislatures of the respective States and all of them proposed some amendments; but not one that this part should be altered. Hence we are in possession of the General [Volume 2, Page 212] Voice of America on this subject. When baffled by reason the larger States possitively refused to yield--the lesser refused to confederate, and called on their opponents to declare that security they could give to abide by any plan or form of Government that could now be devised. The same reasons that now exist to abolish the old, might be urged hereafter to overthrow the New Government, and as the methods of reform prescribed by the former were now utterly disregarded, as little ceremony might be used in discarding the latter--It was further objected that the large States would be continually increasing in numbers, and consequently their influence in the National Assembly would increase also: That their extensive Territories were guaranteed and we might be drawn out to defend the enormous extent of those States, and encrease and establish that power intended in time to enslave ourselves--Threats were thrown out to compel the lesser States to confederate--They were told this would be the last opportunity that might offer to prevent a Dissolution of the Union, that once dissolve that Band which held us together and the lesser States had no security for their existence, even for a moment--The lesser States threatened in their turn they would not lay under the imputation of refusing to confederate on equitable conditions; they threatened to publish their own offers and the demands of others, and to appeal to the World in Vindication of their Conduct.

At this period there were eleven States represented in Convention on the question respecting the manner of appointing Delegates to the House of Representatives--Massachusetts, Pensylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia adopted it as now handed to the consideration of the People.--Georgia now insignificant, with an immense Territory, looked forward to future power and Aggrandizement, Connecticut, New York, Jersey, and Delaware were against the Measure and Maryland was unfortunately divided--On the same question respecting the Senate, perceiving the lesser States would break up Convention altogether, if the influence of that branch was likewise carried against them, the Delegates of Georgia differed in sentiment not on principle but on expediency, and fearing to lose every thing if they persisted, they did not therefore vote being divided. Massachusetts, Pensylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina were in the affirmative, and New York, Connecticut, Jersey, Delaware & Maryland were in the Negative. Every thing was now at a stand and little hopes of agreement, the Delegates of New York had left us determined not to return, and to hazard every possible evil, rather than to Yield in that particular; when it was proposed that a conciliating Committee should be formed of one member from each State--Some Members possitively refused to lend their names to this measure others compromised, and agreed that if the point was relinquished by the larger States as to the Senate--they would sign the proposed Constitution and did so, not because they approved it but because they thought something ought to be done for the Public--Neither General Washington nor Franklin shewed any disposition to relinquish the superiority of influence in the Senate. I now proposed Convention should adjourn for consideration of the subject, and requested leave to take a Copy of their proceedings, but it was denied, and the Avenue thus shut to information and reflection--

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 2, Article 1, Section 3, Clauses 1 and 2, Document 8
The University of Chicago Press

Farrand, Max, ed. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Rev. ed. 4 vols. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1937.

© 1987 by The University of Chicago
All rights reserved. Published 2000