Article 1, Section 3, Clauses 1 and 2

[Volume 2, Page 212]

Document 9

Luther Martin, Genuine Information

1788Storing 2.4.17, 34--37, 42

These propositions [the Virginia Plan], Sir, were acceded to by a majority of the members of the committee--a system by which the large States were to have not only an inequality of suffrage in the first branch, but also the same inequality in the second branch, or senate; however, it was not designed the second branch should consist of the same number as the first. It was proposed that the senate should consist of twenty-eight members, formed on the following scale--Virginia to send five, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts each four, South-Carolina, North-Carolina, Maryland, New-York, and Connecticut two each, and the States of New-Hampshire, Rhode-Island, Jersey, Delaware, and Georgia each of them one; upon this plan, the three large States, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, would have thirteen senators out of twenty-eight, almost one half of the whole number--Fifteen senators were to be a quorum to proceed to business; those three States would, therefore, have thirteen out of that quorum. Having this inequality in each branch of the legislature, it must be evident, Sir, that they would make what laws they pleased, however injurious or disagreeable to the other States, and that they would always prevent the other States from making any laws, however necessary and proper, if not agreeable to the view of those three States--

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Thus, Sir, on this great and important part of the system, the convention being equally divided, five States for the measure, five against, and one divided, there was a total stand, and we did not seem very likely to proceed any further. At length it was proposed, that a select committee should be balloted for, composed of a member from each State, which committee should endeavour to devise some mode of conciliation or compromise; I had the honor to be on that committee; we met and discussed the subject of difference; the one side insisted on the inequality of suffrage in both branches, the other insisted on the equality in both; each party was tenacious of their sentiments, when it was found that nothing could induce us to yield the inequality in both branches; they at length proposed by way of compromise, if we would accede to their wishes as to the first branch, they would agree to the equal representation in the second. To this it was answered, that there was no merit in the proposal, it was only consenting, after they had struggled to put both their feet on our necks, to take one of them off, provided we would consent to let them keep the other on, when they knew at the same time, that they could not put one foot on our necks, unless we would consent to it, and [Volume 2, Page 213] that by being permitted to keep on that one foot, they should afterwards be able to place the other foot on whenever they pleased.

They were also called on to inform us what security they could give us should we agree to this compromise, that they would abide by the plan of government formed upon it, any longer than it suited their interest, or they found it expedient.--"The States have a right to an equality of representation. This is secured to us by our present articles of confederation, we are in possession of this right; it is now to be torn from us. What security can you give us, that, when you get the power the proposed system will give you, when you have men and money, that you will not force from the States that equality of suffrage in the second branch, which you now deny to be their right, and only give up from absolute necessity? Will you tell us we ought to trust you because you now enter into a solemn compact with us? This you have done before, and now treat it with the utmost contempt. Will you now make an appeal to the Supreme Being, and call on him to guarantee your observance of this compact? The same you have formerly done for your observance of the articles of confederation, which you are now violating in the most wanton manner!

The same reasons which you now urge for destroying our present federal government, may be urged for abolishing the system which you now propose to adopt; and as the method prescribed by the articles of confederation is now totally disregarded by you, as little regard may be shewn by you to the rules prescribed for the amendment of the new system, whenever having obtained power by the government, you shall hereafter be pleased either to discard it entirely, or so to alter it as to give yourselves all that superiority which you have now contended for, and to obtain which you have shewn yourselves disposed to hazard the union."--Such, Sir, was the language used on that occasion, and they were told that as we could not possibly have a stronger tie on them for their observance of the new system than we had for their observance of the articles of confederation, which had proved totally insufficient, it would be wrong and imprudent to confide in them. It was further observed, that the inequality of the representation would be daily increasing--That many of the States whose territory was confined, and whose population was at this time large in proportion to their territory, would probably twenty, thirty, or forty years hence, have no more representatives than at the introduction of the government, whereas the States having extensive territory, where lands are to be procured cheap, would be daily encreasing in the number of their inhabitants, not only from propagation, but from the emigration of the inhabitants of the other States, and would have soon double, or perhaps treble the number of representatives that they are to have at first, and thereby enormously increase their influence in the national councils. However, the majority of the select committee at length agreed to a series of propositions by way of compromise, part of which related to the representation in the first branch nearly as the system is now published: and part of them to the second branch securing in that equal representation, and reported them as a compromise upon the express terms that they were wholly to be adopted or wholly to be rejected; upon this compromise, a great number of the members so far engaged themselves, that if the system was progressed upon agreeable to the terms of compromise, they would lend it their names, by signing it, and would not actively oppose it, if their States should appear inclined to adopt it--Some, however, in which number was myself, who joined in the report, and agreed to proceed upon those principles, and see what kind of a system would ultimately be formed upon it, yet reserved to themselves in the most explicit manner the right of finally giving a solemn dissent to the system, if it was thought by them inconsistent with the freedom and happiness of their country--This, Sir, will account why the members of the convention so generally signed their names to the system; not because they thought it a proper one; not because they thoroughly approved, or were unanimous for it; but because they thought it better than the system attempted to be forced upon them. This report of the select committee was after long dissention adopted by a majority of the convention, and the system was proceeded in accordingly--I believe near a fortnight, perhaps more, was spent in the discussion of this business, during which, we were on the verge of dissolution, scarce held together by the strength of an hair, though the public papers were announcing our extreme unanimity.

Mr. Speaker, I think it my duty to observe, that during this struggle to prevent the large States from having all power in their hands, which had nearly terminated in a dissolution of the convention: it did not appear to me, that either of those illustrious characters the Honorable Mr. Washington, or the President of the State of Pennsylvania, were disposed to favour the claims of the smaller States, against the undue superiority attempted by the large States; on the contrary, the Honorable President of Pennsylvania, was a member of the committee of compromise, and there advocated the right of the large States to an inequality in both branches, and only ultimately conceded it in the second branch on the principle of conciliation, when it was found no other terms would be accepted. This, Sir, I think it my duty to mention, for the consideration of those who endeavour to prop up a dangerous and defective system by great names; soon after this period, the Honourable Mr. Yates and Mr. Lansing of New-York, left us; they had uniformly opposed the system, and I believe, despairing of getting a proper one brought forward, or of rendering any real service, they returned no more.

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To prove . . . that the senate as constituted could not be a security for the protection and preservation of the State governments, and that the senators could not be justly considered the representatives of the States as States, it was observed, that upon just principles of representation, the representative ought to speak the sentiments of his constituents, and ought to vote in the same manner that his constituents would do (as far as he can judge) provided his constituents were acting in person, and had the same knowledge and information with himself; and therefore that the representative ought to be dependant on his constituents, and answerable to them; that the connexion between the representative and the represented, ought to be as near and as close as possible; according to these principles, Mr. Speaker, in [Volume 2, Page 214] this State it is provided by its constitution, that the representatives in Congress, shall be chosen annually, shall be paid by the State, and shall be subject to recall even within the year; so cautiously has our constitution guarded against an abuse of the trust reposed in our representatives in the federal government; whereas by the third and sixth sections of the first article of this new system, the senators are to be chosen for six years instead of being chosen annually; instead of being paid by their States who send them, they in conjunction with the other branch, are to pay themselves out of the treasury of the United States; and are not liable to be recalled during the period for which they are chosen: Thus, Sir, for six years the senators are rendered totally and absolutely independent of their States, of whom they ought to be the representatives, without any bond or tie between them: During that time they may join in measures ruinous and destructive to their States, even such as should totally annihilate their State governments, and their States cannot recall them, nor exercise any controul over them.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 2, Article 1, Section 3, Clauses 1 and 2, Document 9
The University of Chicago Press

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

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