Article 1, Section 2, Clause 2

Document 3

Debate in Massachusetts Ratifying Convention

17 Jan. 1788Elliot 2:35--36

Gen. Thompson thought that there should have been some qualification of property in a representative; for, said he when men have nothing to lose, they have nothing to fear.

Hon. Mr. Sedgwick said, that this objection was founded on an anti-democratical principle, and was surprised that gentlemen who appeared so strenuously to advocate the rights of the people, should wish to exclude from the federal government a good man, because he was not a rich one.

Mr. King said, that gentlemen had made it a question, why a qualification of property in a representative is omitted, and that they thought the provision of such a qualification necessary. He thought otherwise; he never knew that property was an index to abilities. We often see men, who, though destitute of property, are superior in knowledge and rectitude. The men who have most injured the country have most commonly been rich men. Such a qualification was proposed in Convention; but by the delegates of Massachusetts it was contested that it should not obtain. He observed, that no such qualification is required by the Confederation. In reply to Gen. Thompson's question, why disqualification of age was not added, the honorable gentleman said, that it would not extend to all parts of the continent alike. Life, says he, in a great measure, depends on climate. What in the Southern States would be accounted long life, would be but the meridian in the Northern; what here is the time of ripened judgment is old age there. Therefore the want of such a disqualification cannot be made an objection to the Constitution.

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

Elliot, Jonathan, ed. The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution as Recommended by the General Convention at Philadelphia in 1787. . . . 5 vols. 2d ed. 1888. Reprint. New York: Burt Franklin, n.d.

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