Hot Debate over Representation

Oliver Ellsworth
Oliver Ellsworth, delegate from Connecticut
James Sharples Senior, 1796-1797

Independence National Historical Park

Hot Debate over Representation

"We [are] partly national; partly federal. The proportional representation in the first branch [House of Representatives] was comfortable to the national principal & would secure the large States against the small. An equality of voices [in the Senate] was conformable to the federal principal and was necessary to secure the Small States against the large. He trusted on this middle ground a compromise would take place."

- Connecticut delegate Oliver Ellsworth as recorded in Madison's Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention

Debate continued on the motion to have each state an equal vote in the lower house. After a hot debate the motion was defeated: Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware aye, six no, Maryland divided. It was agreed that each state would not have an equal vote in the lower house.

Voting in the Senate was then taken up. Ellsworth (SC) moved for an equal vote for each state in the Senate, noting that "we [are] partly national, partly federal." He felt the small states needed protection from the large. Baldwin (GA) opposed the motion - he wanted representation in the Senate to be based on wealth.

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Last updated: February 26, 2015

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