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Mr. MADISON observed, that, whatever reason might have existed for the equality of suffrage when the Union was a federal one among sovereign States, it must cease when a national government should be put into the place. In the former case, the acts of Congress depended so much for their efficacy on the co-operation of the States, that these had a weight, both within and without Congress, nearly in proportion to their extent and importance. In the latter case, as the acts of the General Government would take effect without the intervention of the State Legislatures, a vote from a small State would have the same efficacy and importance as a vote from a large one, and there was the same reason for different numbers of representatives from different States, as from counties of different extents within particular States. He suggested as an expedient for at once taking the sense of the members on this point, and saving the Delaware Deputies from embarrassment, that the question should be taken in Committee, and the clause, on report to the House, be postponed without a question there. This, however, did not appear to satisfy Mr. Read.
By several it was observed, that no just construction of the act of Delaware could require or justify a secession of her Deputies, even if the resolution were to be carried through the House as well as the Committee. It was finally agreed, however, that the clause should be postponed; it being understood that, in the event, the proposed change of representation would certainly be agreed to, no objection or difficulty being started from any other quarter than from Delaware.
The motion of Mr. Read to postpone being agreed to,
The Committee then rose; the Chairman reported progress; and the House, having resolved to resume the subject in Committee to-morrow,
Adjourned to ten o'clock.
Thursday, May 31st.
William Pierce, from Georgia, took his seat.18
In the Committee of the Whole on Mr. RANDOLPH'S Resolutions,—The third Resolution, " that the National Legislature ought to consist of two branches," was agreed to without debate, or dissent, except that of Pennsylvania, -given probably from complaisance to Doctor FRANKLIN, who was understood to be partial to a single house of legislation.
The fourth Resolution, first clause, “that the members of the first branch of the National Legislature ought to be clected by the people of the several Statcs,” being taken up:
Mr. SHERMAN opposed the election by the people, insisting that it ought to be by the State Legislatures. The people, he said, immediately, should have as little to do as may be about the government. They want information, and are constantly liable to be misled.
Mr. Gerry. The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy. The people do not want virtue, but are the dupes of pretended patriots. In Massachusetts it had been fully confirmed by experience, that they are daily misled into the most
baneful measures and opinions, by the false reports circulated by designing men, and which no one on the spot can refute. One principal evil arises from the want of due provision for those employed in the administration of government. It would seem to be a maxim of democracy to starve the public servants. He mentioned the popular clamor in Massachusetts for the reduction of salaries, and the attack made on that of the Governor, though secured by the spirit of the Constitution itself. He had, he said, been too republican heretofore: he was still, however, republican; but had been taught by experience the danger of the levelling spirit.
Mr. Mason argued strongly for an election of the larger branch by the people. It was to be the grand depository of the democratic principle of the government. It was, so to speak, to be our House of Commons. It ought to know and sympathize with every part of the community; and ought therefore to be taken, not only from different parts of the whole republic, but also from different districts of the larger members of it; which had in several instances, particularly in Virginia, different interests and views arising from difference of produce, of habits, &c. &c. He admitted that we had been too democratic, but was afraid we should incautiously run into the opposite extreme. We ought to attend to the rights of every class of the people. He had often wondered at the indifference of the superior classes of society to this dictate of humanity and policy; considering, that, however affluent their circumstances, or elevated their situations, might be, the course of a few years not only might, but cer
tainly would, distribute their posterity throughout the lowest classes of society. Every selfish motive, therefore, every family attachment, ought to recommend such a system of policy as would provide no less carefully for the rights and happiness of the lowest, than of the highest, order of citizens.
Mr. Wilson contended strenuously for drawing the most numerous branch of the Legislature immediately from the people. He was for raising the federal pyramid to a considerable altitude, and for that reason wished to give it as broad a basis as possible. No government could long subsist without the confidence of the people. In a republican government, this confidence was peculiarly essential. He also thought it wrong to increase the weight of the State Legislatures by making them the electors of the National Legislature. All interference between the general and local governments should be obviated as much as possible. On examination it would be found that the opposition of States to Federal measures had proceeded much more from the officers of the States than from the people at large.
Mr. Madison considered the popular election of one branch of the National Legislature as essential to every plan of free government. He observed, that in some of the States one branch of the Legislature was composed of men already removed from the people by an intervening body of electors. That if the first branch of the General Legislature should be elected by the State Legislatures, the second branch elected by the first, the Executive by the second together with the first, and other appointments again made for subordinate purposes by the Executive, the people would be lost sight of altogether; and the necessary sympathy between them and their rulers and officers too little felt. He was an advocate for the policy of refining the popular appointments by successive filtrations, but thought it might be pushed too far. He wished the expedient to be resorted to only in the appointment of the second branch of the Legislature, and in the Executive and Judiciary branches of the government. He thought, too, that the great fabric to be raised would be more stable and durable, if it should rest on the solid foundation of the people themselves, than if it should stand merely on the pillars of the Legislatures.
Mr. Gerry did not like the election by the people The maxims taken from the British constitution were often fallacious when applied to our situation, which was extremely different. Experience, he said, had shown that the State Legislatures, drawn immediately from the people, did not always possess their confidence. He had no objection, however, to an election by the people, if it were so qualified that men of honor and character might not be unwilling to be joined in the appointments. He seemed to think the people might nominate a certain number, out of which the State Legislatures should be bound to choose.
Mr. BUTLER thought an election by the people an impracticable mode.
On the question for an election of the first branch of the National Legislature, by the people, Massa