The Size of the House

Rufus King
Rufus King, delegate from Massachusetts
Charles Willson Peale, 1818

Independence National Historical Park

The Size of the House

"The importation of slaves could not be prohibited - exports could not be taxed. Is this reasonable?"

-Rufus King in Madison's Notes on the Convention

Today the delegates turned to Article IV, Section 2 of the plan proposed by the Committee of Detail.This section proposed that members of the House be at least twenty-five years old, shall have been a citizen for three years, and at the time of election be a resident of the state in which he is chosen. The section was amended and approved.

The delegates then considered the remaining sections of Article IV. They spent considerable time on Section 4: "As the proportions of numbers in [the] different states will alter from time to time… the Legislature [Congress] shall… regulate the number of inhabitants, according to the provisions herein after made, at the rate of one for every forty thousand."

King (MA) immediately attacked including slaves in determining the basis for representation.

Madison objected to making one for every 40,000 inhabitants a rule; with population growth the number of Representatives would be too large. As Madison noted, Gorham didn't think that to be a problem because it was improbable that "this vast country including the Western territory will 150 years hence remain one nation."

G. Morris then moved to insert "free" before "inhabitants," supporting it with a vehement attack on slavery. Dayton (NJ) seconded to get his position on the record. The motion lost.

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Thursday, August 9, 1787
Citizenship in the Senate

HOME The 225th Anniversary of the Constitution Convention

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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