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title:“Rufus King in the Massachusetts Convention”
authors:Rufus King
date written:1788-1-21

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retrieved:Dec. 3, 2023, 9:15 p.m. UTC

King, Rufus. "Rufus King in the Massachusetts Convention." The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787. Vol. 3. Ed. Max Farrand. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911. Print.

Rufus King in the Massachusetts Convention (January 21, 1788)

January 21, 1788.
Hon. Mr. King rose to pursue the inquiry, why the place and manner of holding elections were omitted in the section under debate. It was to be observed, he said, that in the Constitution of Massachusetts, and other States, the manner and place of elections were provided for; the manner was by ballot, and the places towns; for, said he, we happened to settle originally in townships. But it was different in the southern States. He would mention an instance. In Virginia there are but fifteen or twenty towns, and seventy or eighty counties; therefore no rule could be adopted to apply to the whole. If it was practicable, he said, it would be necessary to have a district the fixed place. But this is liable to exceptions; as a district that may now be fully settled, may in time be scarcely inhabited; and the back country, now scarcely inhabited, may be fully settled. Suppose this State thrown into eight districts, and a member apportioned to each: if the numbers increase, the representatives and districts will be increased. The matter, therefore, must be left subject to the regulation of the State legislature, or the general government. Suppose the State legislature, the circumstance will be the same. It is truly said, that our representatives are but a part of the Union, and that they may be subject to the control of the rest; but our representatives make a ninth part of the whole, and if any authority is vested in Congress it must be in our favor. But to the subject: in Connect cut they do not choose by numbers, but by corporations. Hartford, one of their largest towns, sends no more delegates than one of their smallest corporations, each town sending two, except latterly, when a town was divided. The same rule is about to be adopted in Rhode Island. The inequality of such representation, where every corporation would have an equal right to send an equal number of representatives, was apparent. In the southern States, the inequality is greater. By the Constitution of South Carolina, the city of Charleston has a right to send thirty representatives to the General Assembly, the whole number of which amounts to two hundred. The back parts of Carolina have increased greatly since the adoption of their Constitution, and have frequently attempted an alteration of this unequal mode of representation; but the members from Charleston, having the balance so much in their favor, will not consent to an alteration; and we see that the delegates from Carolina in Congress have always been chosen from the delegates of that city. The representatives, therefore, from that State, will not be chosen by the people, but will be the representatives of a faction of that State. If the general government cannot control in this case, how are the people secure?

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