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which had been introduced into the basis of taxation because slaves were taken as an index of the wealth and ability of the masters to contribute and pay, should also be made the basis of a representation founded on population, when they are not represented, and have no part or lot in that matter? The answer is, that this was the result of another compromise.
The mode to be adopted in voting under the Confederation was the subject of great debate in Congress. The article adopted was in these words: “In determining questions in the United States in Congress assembled, each State shall have one vote." The larger States contended strenuously for a representation according to numbers.
Mr. Wilson thought that taxation should be in proportion to wealth, but that representation should accord with the number of freemen; that government is a collection of the wills of all; that if any government could speak the will of all
, it would be perfect; and that so far as it departs from this, it becomes imperfect.
But the small States carried their point.
In the Convention for the formation of the Constitution, the different subjects were first discussed on resolutions ; afterwards on reports of Committees to which different propositions were referred; and then upon a draft of a Constitution reported by the Committee of Detail. In this mode, and in incidental discussions when other parts of the Constitution were under consideration, the subject of representation was many times before the Convention, and in different connections. The plan of a National Government introduced by Mr. Randolph of Virginia, with the concurrence of his colleagues, asserted that the right of suffrage ought to be
proportioned to the quotas of contribution, or to the number of free inhabitants, as the one or the other rule might seem best in different cases. On taking it up for consideration in Committee, after propositions to amend so as to adopt the one or the other of those modes, Mr. Madison moved that an equitable ratio ought to be substituted for the equality established by the articles of Confederation; but the matter was postponed on the suggestion that the Deputies from Delaware were restrained by their commission from assenting to any change. It was feared “that the large States would crush the small ones whenever they stand in the way of their ambitious views.” It was suggested, in answer, that all the existing boundaries might be erased, and a new partition of the whole be made into thirteen equal parts. Mr. Sherman proposed, that the proportion of suffrage in the first branch should be according to the respective numbers of free inhabitants, and that in the second branch, or Senate, each State should have one vote. Dr. Franklin thought, that the numbers of representatives should bear some proportion to the represented, although he proposed proportionate supplies and an equal number of delegates from each State, the decisions to be by a majority of votes. Quotas of contribution and actual contributions of the States were proposed, and the debate was terminated at that time by the adoption in Committee of the proportion substantially as it stands at present in the Constitution; that “being the rule in the Act of Congress, agreed to by eleven States for apportioning quotas of revenue on the States.” Mr. Gerry thought property not the rule of representation. Why, then, should the blacks, who were property in the South, be
in the rule of representation more than the cattle and horses of the North ?— Nine States voted in favor of it; New Jersey and Delaware in the negative.
The subject was debated at length afterwards, when the representation in the Senate ;- when the proportion of the representation in the first Congress under the Constitution ;and when the periodical census were, at different times, under consideration.
Gen. Pinckney dwelt on the superior wealth of the Southern States, and insisted on its having its due weight in the government. Mr. Gouverneur Morris said property ought to have its weight, but not all the weight. If the Southern States were to supply money, the Northern States were to spill their blood. Besides, the probable revenue to be expected from the Southern States had been greatly overrated. Delegates from South Carolina insisted that blacks be included in the representation equally with the whites, and moved that three fifths be struck out. It was answered that when the rule of taxation was fixed by Congress, delegates representing slave States urged that the blacks were still more inferior to freemen. To which it was replied that the Eastern States then contended for their equality. Mr King thought the admission of the blacks along with the whites at all, would excite great discontent among the States having no slaves.
Mr. Wilson did not well see on what principle the admission of blacks in the proportion of three fifths could be explained. If admitted as citizens, why not on an equality with white citizens? If as property, why is not other property admitted? These were difficulties, however, which he thought must be overruled by the necessity of compromise.
A special Committee made a report of an apportionment,
with a clause authorizing the legislature to regulate future apportionments according to the principle of wealth and numbers; and to this Gouverneur Morris moved a proviso, that taxation should be in proportion to representation. This was amended so as to read direct taxation. The debate was then continued upon the representation. Mr. Davie saw, that it was meant by some gentlemen to deprive the Southern States of any share of representation for their blacks. He was sure North Carolina would not confederate on any terms that did not rate them at least as three fifths. Dr. Johnson was for including blacks equally with the whites in the computation. Gouverneur Morris believed Pennsylvania would never agree upon a representation of negroes. Mr. Pinckney moved an amendment so as to make blacks equal to whites in the ratio. He said they were as productive of pecuniary resources as the laborers of the Northern States: and it would be politic with regard to the Northern States, as taxation is to keep pace with representation. The taxation clause was then incorporated into the clause respecting representation. Mr. Pinckney's motion for equality was rejected, two to eight, and the whole proposition adopted, six to two, Massachusetts and South Carolina divided. The debate was continued upon the proposition for an equality of votes in the Senate. Mr. Madison said: “It seemed to be now pretty well understood that the real difference of interests lay not between the large and the small, but between the Northern and Southern States. The institution of slavery and its consequences formed the line of discrimination.” The Committee of Detail having reported a draft of the proposed Constitution, with a provision that no duties should be laid on exports, nor on the migration or importation of
such persons as the several States might think proper to admit
, nor prohibit such importations; the opposition to the slave representation was renewed. When the clause respecting representation was considered, Mr. King said he never could
agree to let slaves be imported without limitation, and then be represented in the national legislature. Either slaves should not be represented, or exports should be taxable. Mr. Gouverneur Morris moved to insert the word "free" before the word “inhabitants.” Much, he said, would depend on this point. He denounced slavery as a nefarious institution, and the slave-trade as a defiance of the most sacred laws of humanity; and he inquired, “ What is the proposed compensation to the Northern States for a sacrifice of every principle of right, every impulse of humanity?” “Let it not be said," he remarked, “ that direct taxation is to be proportioned to representation. It is idle to suppose that the General Gov. eriment can stretch its hand directly into the pockets of the people scattered over so vast a country. They can only do it through the medium of exports, imports, and excises."
Mr. Dayton seconded the motion.
Mr. Sherman did not regard the admission of negroes as liable to such insuperable objection. It was the freemen of the Southern States who were to be represented, according to the taxes paid by them, and the negroes are only included in the estimate of the taxes.”
Mr. Wilson thought the motion premature. An agreement to the clause under consideration would be no bar to the object of it; and it was rejected, New Jersey alone voting
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Subsequently, Mr. Dickinson moved to limit the number of representatives to be allowed to the large States. Unless this were done, the small States would be reduced to entire