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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.;
3 occurrences of jefferson cyclopedia
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1548. CONGRESS, Majority.—
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3 occurrences of jefferson cyclopedia
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1548. CONGRESS, Majority.—

[you ask] has led Congress to determine that
the concurrence of seven votes is requisite in
questions which, by the Confederation, are
submitted to the decision of a majority of
the United States, in Congress assembled?
The ninth article of Confederation, section
six, evidently establishes three orders of questions
in Congress. 1. The greater ones, which
relate to making peace or war, alliances,
coinage, requisitions for money, raising military
force, or appointing its commander-in-chief.
2. The lesser ones, which comprehend
all other matters submitted by the Confederation
to the federal head. 3. The single question
of adjourning from day to day. This
gradation of questions is distinctly characterized
by the article. In proportion to the magnitude
of these questions, a greater concurrence
of the voices composing the Union
was thought necessary. Three degrees of
concurrence, well distinguished by substantial
circumstances, offered themselves to notice.
1. A concurrence of a majority of the
of the Union. It was thought that
this would be ensured by requiring the voices
of nine States; because according to the loose
estimates which had been made of the inhabitants,
and the proportion of them which were
free, it was believed that even the nine smallest
would include a majority of the free citizens
of the Union. The voices, therefore, of
nine States were required in the greater questions.
2. A concurrence of the majority of
the States.
Seven constitute that majority.
This number, therefore, was required in the
lesser questions. 3. A concurrence of the
majority of Congress, that is to say, of the
States actually present in it. As there is no
Congress, when there are not seven States
present, this concurrence could never be of
less than four States. But these might happen
to be the four smallest, which would not


Page 178
include one-ninth part of the free citizens of
the Union. This kind of majority, therefore,
was entrusted with nothing but the power of
adjourning themselves from day to day.
Here, then, are three kinds of majorities. 1.
Of the people. 2. Of the States. 3. Of the
Congress; each of which is entrusted to a
certain length.—
To M. de Meunier. Washington ed. ix, 244. Ford ed., iv, 148.
(P. 1786)