Recreating the American Republic: Rules of Apportionment, Constitutional Change, and American Political Development, 1700-1870

By Charles A. Kromkowski | Go to book overview

7
The Veil of Representational Certainty:
The 1787 Constitutional Convention and the
Making of the U. S. Constitution

The economic, demographic, institutional, and ideological conditions described in Chapter 5 and the sequence of decisions analyzed in Chapter 6 constitute the remote and immediate causes of the abandonment of the Articles of Confederation. This chapter completes the story of this second constitutional and apportionment rule change by examining the deliberations and decisions of the 1787 Convention that produced a new national constitution and a new national rule of apportionment.

The new apportionment rule included within the U. S. Constitution established a dual form of state representation within the U. S. Congress: equal state representation in the U. S. Senate and a form of proportional state representation in the U. S. House of Representatives. In the former, each state was granted two senators regardless of its population and each senator voted individually. In the House, representation was divided among the states according to each state's respective “Numbers. ” These numbers were to be determined for each state by adding the whole number of free and indentured persons to three-fifths of the total number of enslaved persons. “Indians” who did not pay taxes were not to be included in a state's total. This constitutional rule required an initial enumeration of the American population within three years of the first Congress, and a new census every ten years. It also established that the number of representatives in the House of Representatives cannot exceed one representative for every 30,000 persons, and every state was guaranteed at least one member. Until completion of first national census, the House was to consist of 65 members distributed among the thirteen states as shown Table 7.1.

The process that produced this new “double” rule of apportionment dominated the deliberations of the 1787 Constitutional Convention from

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