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The Constitutional Convention, Debate over Representation in Congress, 1787

Resolution 4, first clause: "that the members of the first branch [House of Representatives] of the national legislature ought to be elected by the people of the several states" (being taken up),

Mr. Sherman [of Connecticut] opposed the election by the people insisting that it ought to be by state legislatures. The people, he said, should have as little to do as may be about the government. They lack information and are constantly liable to be misled.

Mr. Gerry [of Massachusetts]. The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy. The people do not lack virtue, but are the dupes of pretended patriots. In Massachusetts, it has been fully confirmed by experience that they are daily misled into the most baneful measures and opinions by the false reports circulated by designing men, and which no one on the spot can refuse... He had been too republican heretofore; he was still, however, republican, but had been taught by experience the danger of the leveling spirit.

Mr. Mason [of Virginia] argued strongly for the larger branch by the people. It was to be the grand depository of the democratic principle of government. It was, so to speak, to be our House of Commons. It ought to know and sympathize with very part of the community, and ought therefore to be taken not only from different parts of the republic, but also from different districts of the larger members of it, which had in several instances, particularly in Virginia, different interests and views arising from the difference of produce, of habits, etc. He admitted that we had been too democratic but was afraid that we should incautiously run into the opposite extreme. We ought to attend to the rights of every class of people...

Mr. Wilson [of Pennsylvania] contended strenuously for drawing the most numerous branch of the legislature immediately from the people. He was for raising the federal pyramid to a considerable altitude, and for that reason wished to give it as broad a basis as possible. No government could long subsist without the confidence of the people. In a republican government this confidence was peculiarly essential.

Mr. Madison [of Virginia] considered the popular election of one branch of the national legislature as essential to every plan of free government. ..He thought, too, that the great fabric to be raised would be more stable and durable if it should rest on the solid foundation of the people themselves than if it should stand merely on the pillars of the legislatures...

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