Lapas attēli

House of


fuse into the senate, biennially, renewed public confidence and vigour; and, on the other, to retain a large portion of experienced members, duly initiated into the general principles of national policy, and the forms and course of business in the house.

The superior weight and delicacy of the trust confided to the senate, and which will be shown more fully hereafter, is a reason why the constitution requires that a senator should be thirty years of age, and nine years a citizen of the United States, and, at the time of his election, an inhabitant of the state for which he is chosen. The same age was also requisite for a Roman senator, though, in their executive offices, no qualification of age was required. Ne ætas quidem distinguebatur quin prima juventa consulatum ac dictaturas inirent. It has been also deemed fit and proper, in a country which was colonized originally from several parts of Europe, and has been disposed to adopt the most liberal policy towards the rest of mankind, that a period of citizenship sufficient to create an attachment to our government, and a knowledge of its principles, should render an emigrant eligible to office. The English policy is not quite so enlarged. No alien born can become a member of parliament. This disability was imposed by the act of settlement of 12 Wm. III. c. 2.; and no bill of naturalization can be received in either house of parliament, without such disabling clause in it.

(3.) The house of representatives is composed of memRepresenta-bers chosen every second year by the people of the several states, who are qualified electors of the most numerous branch of the legislature of the state to which they belong.

person can be a representative until he hath attained the
age of twenty-five years, and hath been seven years a citizen
of the United States, and is, at the time of his election, an
inhabitant of the state in which he is chosen.c

a Art. 1. sec. 3.

b Tac, Ann. lib. 11. 22.

c Art. 1, sec. 2.

The general qualifications of electors of the assembly, or most numerous branch of the legislature, in the several state governments, are, that they be of the age of twenty-one years and upwards, and free resident citizens of the state in which they vote, and have paid taxes; and, in some of the states, they are required to possess property, and to be white, as well as free citizens. The description is, almost every where, so large, as to include all persons who are of competent discretion, and are interested in the welfare of the government, and liable to bear any of its duties or burdens. The house of representatives may, therefore, very fairly be said to represent the whole body of the American people. Several of the state constitutions have prescribed the same, or higher qualifications, as to property, in the elected, than in the electors, and some of them have required a religious test. But the constitution of the United States requires no evidence of property in the representative, nor any declaration of religious belief. He is only required to be a citizen of the competent age, and free from any undue bias or dependence, by not holding any office under the United States.

The term for which a representative is to serve ought not to be so short as to prevent him from obtaining a comprehensive acquaintance with the business to which he is deputed; nor so long as to make him forget the transitory nature of his seat, and his state of dependence on the approbation of his constituents. It ought also to be considered as a fact deeply interesting to the character and utility of representative republics, that very frequent elections have a tendency to render the office less important than it ought to be deemed, and the people inattentive in the exercise of their right; whilst, on the other hand, long intervals between the elections are apt to make them produce too much excitement, and consequently to render the periods of their

a Art. 1. sec. 6.

return a time of too much competition and conflict for the public tranquillity. The constitution has certainly not deviated in this respect to the latter extreme, in the establishment of biennial elections. It has probably selected a medium, which, considering the situation and extent of our country, combines as many advantages, and avoids as many inconveniences, as any other term which might have been inserted.

The representatives are directed to be apportioned among the states, according to numbers, which is determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, exclusive of Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons. The number of representatives cannot exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state is entitled to have at least one representative. By the act of 7th March, 1822, the representatives were apportioned among the several states according to the fourth census, and to a ratio of one representative for every forty thousand persons in each state, making in the whole two hundred and thirteen members, the number of which the present house of representatives is composed, besides delegates from three of the territories belonging to the United States, and who have a right to debate, but not to vote.

The rule of apportionment established by the constitution is exposed to the objection, that three fifths of the slaves in the southern states are computed in establishing the apportionment of the representation. But this article was the result of necessity, and grew out of the fact of the existence

a Art. 1. sec. 2.

b A new census of the inhabitants of the United States having been taken and completed in 1831, a bill for a new apportionment of the house of representatives was before Congress in February, 1832, when the 2d edition of this volume was put to the press. The bill, as it passed the house of representatives, fixed the ratio of one representative for every 47,700 persons, and that apportionment would enlarge the house of representatives to 240 members.

of domestic slavery in a portion of our country. The evil has been of too long standing, and is too extensive and too deeply rooted, to be speedily eradicated, or even to be discussed without great judgment and discretion. But the same rule which apportions the representatives, extends to direct taxes; and the slaves in the southern states, while they give those states an increased number of representatives, contribute, on the other hand, when that mode of taxation is resorted to, equally to increase the measure of their contributions."

The number of the house of representatives would seem to be quite large enough, on its present computation'; and, unless the ratio be hereafter enlarged from time to time, as the exigency may require, the house will be in danger of increasing too rapidly, and it will probably become, in time, much too unwieldy a body for convenience of debate and joint consultation. A due acquaintance with the local interests of every part of the union ought to be carried into the house, and a sufficient number collected, for all the purposes of information, discussion, and diffusive sympathy with the wants and wishes of the people. When these objects are obtained, any further increase neither promotes deliberation, nor increases the public safety. All numerous bodies of men, although selected with the greatest care, are too much swayed by passion, and too impatient of protracted deliberation.

The United States, in their improvements upon the exercise of the right of representation, may certainly claim pre-eminence over all other governments, ancient and modern. Our elections are held at stated seasons, established by law. The people vote by ballot, in small districts, and public officers preside over the elections, receive the votes and maintain order and fairness. Though the competition between candidates is generally active, and the zeal of rival

a Federalist, vol. 2. No. 54.

parties sufficiently excited, the elections are every where conducted with tranquillity. The legislature of each state prescribes the times, places, and manner of holding elections, subject, however, to the interference and control of Congress, which is permitted them for the sake of their own preservation, and which, it is to be presumed, they will never be disposed to exercise, except when any state shall neglect or refuse to make adequate provision for the purpose. The privilege of voting, as we have already seen, is conferred upon all persons who are of sufficient competency by their age, and of sufficient ability, to take care of themselves. The ancient Greeks and Romans had not only very imperfect notions of the value of representation, but the number and power of their popular assemblies were so great, and they were so liable to disorder, as to render it a very provident measure with them, to be guarded in diffusing the privileges of free citizens. Not a tenth part of the people of Athens were admitted to the privilege of voting in the assemblies of the people; and, indeed, nine tenths of the inhabitants throughout all Greece were slaves. In Sparta, the number of votes was fixed at ten thousand. In Rome, this privilege was for many ages confined to the Pomaria of the city, and it continued to be so confiend, and to be tolerable in its operation, until the memorable social war

a Mitford's Greece, vol. 1. 354, 357.

b The Roman mode of passing laws, and voting in their comitia, was orderly, and under great checks, during the best periods of the government. When a law was proposed and discussed, and the religious rights duly performed, and no intercession made, the people proceeded to vote, and every citizen was ordered to repair to his century. The method of voting was originally viva voce, but after the yearof the city 600, it was by ballot by the leges tabellariæ, which applied equally to the election of magistrates, to public trials, and to making and repealing laws. The people were made to pass in order over some narrow planks, called pontes, into the septa or .enclosures, where certain officers delivered to every voter two tablets, one for and one against the proposition, and each person threw into a chest

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