Log In Register

Source & Citation Info

title:“Gouverneur Morris to Lewis R. Morris”
authors:Gouverneur Morris
date written:1803-12-10

permanent link
to this version:
last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 7:57 a.m. UTC
retrieved:July 17, 2019, 4:22 a.m. UTC

Morris, Gouverneur. "Letter to Lewis R. Morris." The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Vol. 3. Ed. Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911. Print.

Gouverneur Morris to Lewis R. Morris (December 10, 1803)

Morrisania, December 10th, 1803.
That if, in the new legislature, as in the old Congress, each had been equally represented, and each preserved an equal vote, the sacrifice of rights would have been equal. But when it was admitted, that, in the National Legislature, the Representatives should be appointed according to the number of citizens, the sacrifice of rights was great, in proportion as the States were small.1 Thus Delaware, which had but one Representative out of sixty-five, retained only one sixty-fifth part of the nation's authority; and Virginia, which had ten Representatives, obtained two thirteenths. Wherefore, since each had previously enjoyed one thirteenth, Delaware lost four fifths of its power, and that of Virginia was doubled, so that Delaware, compared to Virginia, was reduced under the new establishment from equality to one tenth. It was moreover evident, that the course of population would daily increase this decided superiority of the great States. That, of course, if the whole power of the union had been expressly vested in the House of Representatives, the smaller States would never have adopted the Constitution. But in the Senate they retained an equal representation, and to the Senate was given a considerable share of those powers exercised by the old Congress. One important point, however, that of making war, was divided between the Senate and House of Representatives.
That the legislative authority, being thus disposed of, in a manner which appeared reasonable, care was taken to preserve to the Senate a feeble share of the ancient executive power of Congress, by their negative on their appointments to office.
That it was, however, certain the President and Vice President would be taken from the larger States, unless the smaller had some proportion of their original right preserved, and therefore the number of electors is compounded of the number of Senators, who represent States, and of the number of members who represent the people. Still, however, the chance was, from the superiority of numbers, so greatly in favor of the large States, that a farther right was reserved to the smaller ones by the particular mode of election. The necessity of voting for two persons as President, one of whom should not be of the State voting, and the right of choosing a President out of the five highest on the list, where no absolute choice was made by the electors, is perhaps the most valuable provision in favor of the small States, which can be found in the Constitution.3 B4y the former, the chance of an absolute choice is greatly diminished, and by the latter, the decision among five candidates is preserved to the States in their political capacity. It will, of course, under such circumstances, be always in the power of the smaller States to judge of the personal character of the parties presented for choice, and though natives and citizens of large States, one of them may possess such attachment to the country at large, and such a sense of justice, that from his administration there would be no danger of encroachment on their political rights.

Resource Metadata