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title:“Thomas Lloyd's Notes of the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention”
date written:1787-11-3

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:13 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Jan. 29, 2023, 3:36 a.m. UTC

"Thomas Lloyd's Notes of the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 2. Ed. Gaspare J. Saladino and John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 1976. 442-43. Print.

Thomas Lloyd's Notes of the Pennsylvania Ratification Convention (November 3, 1787)

JAMES WILSON: It is objected that the number of members in the House of Representatives is too small. This is a subject something embarrassing, and the Convention who framed the Article felt the embarrassment. Take either side of the question, and you are necessarily led into difficulties. A large representation, sir, draws along with it a great expense. We all know that expense is offered as an objection to this system of government, and certainly had the representation been greater, the clamor would have been on that side, and perhaps, with some degree of justice. But the expense is not the sole objection; it is the opinion of some writers, that a deliberative body ought not to consist of more than one hundred members. I think, however, that there might be safety and propriety in going beyond that number; but certainly there is some number so large, that it would be improper to increase them beyond it. The British House of Commons consists of upwards of five hundred. The Senate of Rome consisted, it is said, at some times, of one thousand members. This last number is certainly too great.
The Convention endeavored to steer a middle course, and when we consider the scale on which they formed their calculation, there are strong reasons why the representation should not have been larger. On the ratio that they have fixed, of one for every thirty thousand, and according to the generally received opinion of the increase of population throughout the United States, the present number of their inhabitants will be doubled in twenty-five years, and according to that progressive proportion, and the ratio of one member for thirty thousand inhabitants, the House of Representatives will, within a single century, consist of more than six hundred members; permit me to add a further observation on the numbers-that a large number is not so necessary in this case, as in the cases of state legislatures. In them there ought to be a representation sufficient to declare the situation of every county, town, and district; and if of every individual, so much the better, because their legislative powers extend to the particular interest and convenience of each, but in the general government, its objects are enumerated and are not confined in their causes or operations to a county, or even to a single state. No one power is of such a nature, as to require the minute knowledge of situations and circumstances necessary in state governments, possessed of general legislative authority; these were the reasons, sir, that I believe had influence on the Convention to agree to the number of thirty thousand, and when the inconveniencies and conveniencies on both sides are compared, it would be difficult to say what would be a number more unexceptionable. [Lloyd, Debates, 48-49]

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