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The Life of Gouverneur Morris

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jority of the votes of the counties represented, and that the votes of the city and county of New York should be considered as four, the city and county of Albany three, and each of the other counties two.  This scheme was adopted on the principle, that each county should vote nearly in the ratio of its comparative importance, in regard to its population and wealth.  Had the representation been perfect, then a vote from each member would have produced the same result, but since there was no limit to the number of members from each county, this mode of voting was the only one, which could approach to an equitable standard.

A similar method, and for similar reasons, was pursued in the Continental Congress, even till the new Constitution was adopted.  The ratio there, however, was less equitable than in the case of New York, because each State, whether large or small, had but a single vote, without any reference to its consequence in the scale of the Union as estimated by extent, population, and property.  Much was said in those days, as in times more recent, about state rights and state sovereignty, and this indulgence to the small States, of being on a par in the national councils with the large ones, was considered by them as a recognition of their sovereignty, and hard was their struggle in parting with this token of supremacy by the organization of the House of Representatives on its present footing.  The happy device of preserving a similitude of the same feature in the Senate procured a tardy acquiescence, but time only has completed the work of reconciliation.

When the Provincial Congress was organized, a motion was made, seconded by Gouverneur Morris, leading to a resolution that implicit obedience ought to be rendered to the Continental Congress, in all matters pertaining to the general regulation of the associated colonies.  But the tone of the new assembly was more fully discovered, when it was moved to pass a vote approving the proceedings of the late Continental Congress.  The motion was debated, and at length deferred for future consideration.  From this result it was evident, that


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From The Life of Gouverneur Morris: With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers; Detailing Events in the American Revolution, The French Revolution, and in the Political History of the United States, by Jared Sparks, Volume 1, Boston: Gray & Bowen, 1832, p 36. Some minor edits may have been made, but an attempt has been made to preserve the original spelling. Although some effort has been made to correct the limitations of OCR technology, if you find an error please report it to jvinci@colonialhall.com.

 
 


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Last modified August 20, 2006