Debate over Proportional Representation

Jonathan Dayton
Jonathan Dayton, delegate from New Jersey

Hanry Harrison, oil on canvas, 1911
Collections of the U.S. House of Representatives

Debate over Proportional Representation

"We have been in a Committee of the Whole for some time, and have under consideration a number of very important propositions…[We] are very desirous that you should join us immediately.The importance of the business really demands it."

-David Brearley to Jonathan Dayton

Elbridge Gerry (MA) moved to reconsider the method of electing the Executive, and to have the Executive elected by the governors of the states with their votes weighed in proportion to the vote of their state in the Senate (this was before the decision for an equal vote in this body). Edmund Randolph (VA) argued strongly against this motion and it lost, ten states no, Delaware divided.

William Paterson (NJ) moved to resume consideration of the clause concerning suffrage in the national legislature. David Brearley (NJ) seconded in a speech which bristled with arguments as to the injustice of proportional representation. James Wilson (PA) and Hugh Williamson (NC) then spoke in favor of proportional representation. At that point, at Paterson's request, the vote was postponed until the next day.

luther martin
Luther Martin, delegate from Maryland

Luther Martin, delegate from Maryland

The New York Public Library.

Luther Martin (MD) appeared and took his seat today, on the day when the small states launched their attack on proportional representation. In the Convention, Martin stood with the most ardent supporters of state's rights. The few who recognize his name do so because of his extreme state's rights stand and the two-day speech on the subject which exhausted his fellow delegates and their patience. He was more constructive than that, serving on the Committee of Representation, and putting forth the motion for the Supremacy clause.

Sunday, June 10, 1787 Recess

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