Imatges de pàgina

ated, and provides one to be taken, in virtue of acts passed for that purpose, within every subsequent period of ten years. The number of representatives cannot exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state is entitled to at least one representative. Upon the return of the census, it was conceived by Congress that, without invading the Constitution, the principle of apportionment might with advantage be so modified as to prevent the loss in the number of representatives, arising from the fractional parts produced by the application of the ratio of representation, to the representative population of the respective states. The aggregate numbers of the population of the United States, as ascertained by that census, was accordingly divided by the ratio adopted in the bill, which was thirty thousand, and the operation was found to produce the quotient of one hundred and twenty ; whereupon that number of representatives was apportioned among the several states, until as many representatives as it would give were assigned to each state respectively; and then the residuary or surplus number was distributed among the states having the highest fractional numbers, until the whole number of one hundred and twenty was exhausted. After much debate and strong opposition, this bill passed both houses of Congress; but the correct and independent mind of President Washington could not reconcile its provisions with the Constitution, and he returned the bill to the House of Representatives, in which it had originated, with this objection, that the Constitution had provided that the number of representatives should not exceed one for every thirty thousand, which ratio was to be applied to the respective


70 . LECTURES ON numbers of the states; whereas the bill allotted to several of the states more than one representative for every thirty thousand of its population.” As there was not a constitutional majority to pass the bill notwithstanding the objection, it was subsequently rejected, and a new one immediately brought in and passed, adopting the ratio of thirty-three thousand, and applying it to the numbers of the states respectively, without providing for the representation of the fractional parts. This course has been pursued on every subsequent occasion; although, on the return of the fifth census, a proposal for the representation of the fractional parts, similar in principle to the former, was made and adopted in the Senate, but rejected in the House of Representatives. In this case, indeed, the ratio adopted exceeded thirty thousand, and was fixed by the amendment of the Senate at forty-seven thousand seven hundred; but this ratio, as before, was applied to the aggregate number of the whole representative population, in order to obtain the number of representatives, who were then, in like manner, apportioned among the several states, and the residuary members distributed among those having the highest fractional numbers exceeding twenty-five thousand. In this respect, therefore, the amendment in question was liable to the objection of assigning a representative to a less number than thirty thousand. But had it even assigned the surplus to the states having fractions equal to or exceeding that number, it would still have contravened the provision of the Constitution which directs the ratio to be applied to the representative numbers of the several states, without in any man. ner noticing the fractional parts resulting from the apportionment, or contemplating any other computation than the one expressly directed.

To guard against a refractory disposition, should it ever appear in any of the sister states, in the neglect or refusal to exercise the right vested in them by the Constitution, of prescribing the time, places, and manner of holding elections of representatives, Congress is empowered, at any time, to make or alter such regulations ; and this power was, for the first time, partially exercised by the present Congress. The act referred to directs the state legislatures to di. vide their respective states into as many districts, for the election of their representatives in Congress, as there are representatives to be elected in each; and requiring that each district shall consist of contiguous territory, and contain an equal number of persons, as nearly as may be, without dividing counties, or other similar subdi. visions. Several of those states in which the principles of anti-federalism and nullification prevail, demurred in carrying this regulation into effect, and at last yielded only a reluctant consent; and the State of Missouri still holds out against a provision, of which the expediency is as undoubted elsewhere as its constitutionality. By the act apportioning the representatives among the several states according to the last census, the ratio of seventy-four thousand for a representative was adopted, which gives a total rimber of two hundred and twenty-three members in the next House of Representatives.

The House of Representatives possesses the sole power of impeachment, or of presenting accusations against public officers of the United States for malversation in their offices. It has also the exclusive right of originating all bills for raising revenue ; and this is the only privi- . lege which that house possesses, in its legislative character, which is not equally shared with the other; and even these revenue bills are amendable by the Senate at its discretion : so that, in all business appertaining to legislation, each house is an entire and perfect check upon the other. The proceedings in the House of Representatives are conducted with open doors, except on very special occasions. This publicity affords the people early and authentic information of the progress, reason, and policy of measures pending before Congress, and is, moreover, a powerful stimulus to industry and research, and to the cultivation of talent and eloquence in debate. These advantages, indeed, may be acquired at the expense of much useless discussion and much valuable time, yet the balance of utility is greatly in favour of open deliberation; and it is very certain, from the opposition made to the experiment of the first Senate to sit with closed doors, that such a practice by any legislative body in this country would not be endured.

II. The Senate of the United States consists of two senators from each state, chosen by its Legislature for six years, and each senator has one vote. If a vacancy happen during a recess of the Legislature, the executive power of the state may make temporary appointments until the next meeting of the Legislature, when the vacancy must be filled in the ordinary manner. Each state, therefore, has its equal voice and weight in the Senate of the Union, without regard to disparity of population, wealth, or terri

tory. The number of two senators from each state would, however, have been found inconve. nient, if the votes in the Senate had been taken, as in the old Congress, by states. There, if the delegates from a state were divided, its vote was lost, and this, of course, rendered an uneven number preferable. But from the numerical vote taken upon all questions in the Senate, a division of opinion between the senators of a particular state has no influence on the general result.

The election of senators in Congress by the state legislatures has the double advantage of favouring a select appointment, and of giving to the state governments such an essential agency in the formation of the General Government as recognises and preserves their separate and independent existence, and renders them, in their sovereign character, living and active members of the federal body. Whether the choice of •senator should be made by the joint or concurrent vote of the two branches of the state legislatures, the Constitution does not direct. Difficulties have hence arisen as to its meaning. The legislatures are not only to elect the members of this branch of the National Congress, but to prescribe the times, places, and manner of holding the election, and Congress is authorized to alter such regulations, except as to the place. The difference between the two modes of election is, that on a joint vote, the members of both branches of the Legislature assemble together for the purpose, and vote numerically; while a concurrent vote is taken by each house, separately, and the decision of one is subject to the approval of the other. The difficulties alluded to have arisen in cases of their disagree

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