# University of Virginia Library

#### 387. APPORTIONMENT RATIO, Surplus Members.—

Where a phrase is susceptible
of two meanings, we ought certainly to
adopt that which will bring upon us the fewest
inconveniences. Let us weigh those resulting
from both constructions. From that

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giving to each State a member for every
30,000 in that State results the single inconvenience
that there may be large portions unrepresented,
but it being a mere hazard on
which State this will fall, hazard will equalize
it in the long run. From the others result exactly
the same inconvenience. A thousand
cases may be imagined to prove it. Take
one. Suppose eight of the States had 45,000
inhabitants each, and the other seven 44,999
each, that is to say, each one less than each of
the others. The aggregate would be 674,993,
and the number of representatives at one for
30,000 of the aggregate, would be 22. Then,
after giving one member to each State, distribute
the seven residuary members among
the seven highest fractions, and though the
difference of population be only an unit, the
representation would be double. * * * Here a single inhabitant the more would
count as 30,000. Nor is this case imaginable
only, it will resemble the real one whenever
the fractions happen to be pretty equal
through the whole States. The numbers of
our census happen by accident to give the
fractions all very small, or very great, so as
to produce the strongest case of inequality
that could possibly have occurred, and which
may never occur again. The probability is
that the fractions will descend gradually
from 29,999 to 1. The inconvenience, then,
of large unrepresented fractions attends both
constructions; and while the most obvious
construction is liable to no other, that of the
bill incurs many and grievous ones. 1. If
you permit the large fraction in one State to
choose a representative for one of the small
fractions in another State, you take from the
latter its election, which constitutes real representation,
and substitute a virtual representation
of the disfranchised fractions. * * * 2. The bill does not say that it has given the
residuary representatives to the greatest fraction:
though in fact it has done so. It seems
to have avoided establishing that into a rule,
lest it might not suit on another occasion.
Perhaps it may be found the next time more
convenient to distribute them among the
smaller States;
at another time among the
larger States;
at other times according to any
other crotchet which ingenuity may invent and the combinations of the day give strength
to carry; or they may do it arbitrarily by open
bargains and cabal. In short, this construction
introduces into Congress a scramble, or a
vendue for the surplus members. It generates
waste of time, hot blood, and may at
some time, when the passions are high, extend
a disagreement between the two Houses,
to the perpetual loss of the thing, as happens
now in the Pennsylvania Assembly; whereas
the other construction reduces the apportionment
always to an arithmetical operation,
about which no two men can ever possibly
differ. 3. It leaves in full force the violation
of the precept which declares that representatives
shall be apportioned among the States
according to their numbers i. e., by some common
ratio.—
Opinion on Apportionment Bill. Washington ed. vii, 599. Ford ed., v, 498.
(1792)