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THE EQUALITY OF VOTING IN CONGRESS.
In the month of July, 1776, a convention of delegates was held in Pennsylvania for the purpose of forming a constitution for that State. Dr. Franklin was president of the convention. Whilst it was in session, a new plan of Confederation was reported to Congress, in which it was provided, that each State should have one vote in determining questions. The following Protest was drawn up by Dr. Franklin, with the view of bringing it before the convention of Pennsylvania ; “but he was dissuaded from endeavouring to carry it through, from prudential considerations respecting the necessary union, at that critical period, of all the States in confederation.". EDITOR.
We, the representatives of the State of Pennsylvania in full convention met, having duly considered the plan of confederation formed in Congress, and submitted to the several States, for their assent or dissent, do hereby declare the dissent of this State to the same, for the following reasons, viz.
1. Because the foundation of every confederation, intended to be lasting, ought to be laid in justice and equity, no unfair advantage being given to, or taken by, any of the contracting parties.
2. Because it is, in the nature of things, just and equal, that the respective States of the confederacy should be represented in Congress, and have votes there in proportion to their importance, arising from
their numbers of people, and the share and degree of strength they afford to the united body. And therefore the seventeenth article,* which gives one vote to the smallest State, and no more to the largest, when the difference between them may be as ten to one, or greater, is unjust, and injurious to the larger States, since all of them are by other articles obliged to contribute in proportion to their respective abilities.
3. Because the practice hitherto in Congress, of allowing only one vote to each colony, was originally taken up under a conviction of its impropriety and injustice, was intended to be in some future time corrected, and was then and since submitted to only as a temporary expedient, to be used in ordinary business, until the means of rectifying the same could be obtained. This clearly appears by the resolve of Congress, dated September 6th, 1774, being the day of its meeting, which resolve is in these words; “That, in determining questions in this Congress, each colony or province shall have one vote, the Congress not being possessed of, or at present able to procure, proper materials for ascertaining the importance of each colony.” That importance has since been supposed to be best found in the numbers of the people; for the Congress, not only by their resolution when the issuing of bills was agreed to, but by this present confederation, have judged, that the contribution towards sinking those bills and to the common expense should be in proportion to such numbers, when they could be taken, which has
This forms part of the fifth article of the Confederation, as finally agreed to by all the States. In the eighth article of Dr. Franklin's draft, (see above, p. 93,) he had provided, that "each delegate at the Congress should have a vote in all cases." For the author's further views on this subject, see his “Speech in a Committee of the Convention, on the Proportion of Representation and Votes," p. 149. — Editor.
not yet been done; and, though the larger colonies submitted to this temporary inequality of representation, expecting it would much sooner have been rectified, it never was understood, that, by the resolution above cited, a power was given to the smaller States to fix that inequality upon them for ever, as those small States have now attempted to do by combining to vote for this seventeenth article, and thereby to deprive the larger States of their just right, acknowledged in the same resolution. Smaller States having given us, in advance, this striking instance of the injustice they are capable of, and of the possible effects of their combination, is of itself a sufficient reason for our determining not to put ourselves in their power by agreeing to this article, as it stands connected with those concerning the quotas of each State; since, being a majority of States in Congress, they may, by the same means, at any time, deprive the larger States of any share in the disposition of our strength and wealth, and the management of our common interests.
But, as the smaller colonies may object, that, if the larger are allowed a number of votes in proportion to their importance, the smaller will then be equally in danger of being overpowered and governed by them, we, not having the least desire of any influence or power that is unjust, or unequal, or disproportioned to the burdens we are to bear, do hereby offer our consent to the said seventeenth article as it now stands, provided the quotas to be contributed by the larger provinces shall be reduced to an equality with the smallest, in which case all, by contributing equally, will have a right to equal votes. Not that we mean thereby to avoid granting additional aids, when the exigence of our common interests shall appear to us to make them proper and necessary; but, leaving to the Congress, with regard to such additional aids, the right of making requisitions as enjoyed by our late kings, we would reserve to ourselves the right of judging of the propriety of these requisitions, or of refusing or complying with them in part, or in the whole, as to us shall seem best, and of modifying our grants with such conditions as we shall judge necessary, in like manner as our Assemblies might formerly do with regard to requisitions from the crown; for it appears to us just and reasonable, that we should retain the disposition of what strength we have, above the equal proportion contributed as aforesaid by our State to the common service, with every power necessary to apply the same, as occasions may arise, for our particular security; this we mean to do from this time forward, unless we are allowed votes in Congress proportioned to the importance of our State, as was originally intended.
PROPOSITIONS FOR A PEACE.
On the 26th of September, 1776, Dr. Franklin was appointed one of the Commissioners from Congress to the Court of France. Before his departure he sketched a brief outline of the terms upon which he supposed a peace might be made with Great Britain, in case an opportunity for a negotiation should offer. His propositions were submitted to the secret committee of Congress, but no occasion presented itself for using them. EDITOR.
THERE shall be a perpetual peace between Great Britain and the United States of America, on the following conditions.
Great Britain shall renounce and disclaim all pretence of right or authority to govern in any of the United States of America.
To prevent those occasions of misunderstanding, which are apt to arise where the territories of different powers border on each other, through the bad conduct of frontier inhabitants on both sides, Britain shall cede to the United States the provinces or colonies of Quebec, St. John's, Nova Scotia, Bermuda, East and West Florida, and the Bahama Islands, with all their adjoining and intermediate territories now claimed by her. In return for this cession, the United States shall pay 15