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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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385. APPORTIONMENT RATIO, Nearest Common.—
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385. APPORTIONMENT RATIO, Nearest Common.—

The phrase [of the Constitution] that “the number of representatives
shall not exceed one for every 30,000,”
is violated by this bill which has given
to eight States a number exceeding one
for every 30,000, to wit, one for every
27,770. In answer to this, it is said
that this phrase may mean either the
30,000 in each State, or the 30,000 in the
whole Union,
and that in the latter case it
serves only to find the amount of the whole
representation; which, in the present state of
population, is 120 members. Suppose the
phrase might bear both meanings, which will
common sense apply to it? Which did the
universal understanding of our country apply
to it? Which did the Senate and Representatives
apply to it during the pendency of the
first bill, and even till an advanced stage of
this second bill, when an ingenious gentleman
found out the doctrine of fractions, a doctrine
so difficult and inobvious, as to be rejected at
first sight by the very persons who afterwards
became its most zealous advocates? The
phrase stands in the midst of a number of
others, every one of which relates to States in
their separate capacity. Will not plain common
sense, then, understand it, like the rest
of its context, to relate to States in their separate
capacities? But if the phrase of one for
30,000 is only meant to give the aggregate of
representatives, and not at all to influence
their apportionment among the States, then
the 120 being once found, in order to apportion
them, we must recur to the former rule
which does it according to the numbers of
the respective States; and we must take the
nearest common divisor, as the ratio of distribution,
that is to say, that divisor which,
applied to every State, gives to them such
numbers as, added together, come nearest to
120. This nearest common ratio will be found
to be 28,058, and will distribute 119 of the 120
members leaving only a single residuary one.
It will be found, too, to place 96,648 fractional
numbers in the eight northernmost
States, and 105,582 in the seven southernmost.
* * * Whatever may have been
the intention, the effect of neglecting the
nearest divisor (which leaves but one residuary
member), and adopting a distant one
(which leaves eight), is merely to take a
member from New York and Pennsylvania,
each, and give them to Vermont and New
Hampshire. But, it will be said, this is giving
more than one for 30,000. True, but has it
not been just said that the one for 30,000 is
prescribed only to fix the aggregate number,
and that we are not to mind it when we come
to apportion them among the States? That
for this we must recur to the former rule
which distributes them according to the numbers
in each State? Besides does not the bill
itself apportion among seven of the States
by the ratio of 27,770? which is much more
than one for 30,000.—
Opinion on Apportionment Bill. Washington ed.
597. Ford ed.,
v, 496.