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provision that the number should not exceed one for every forty thousand inhabitants. But at a subsequent stage of the proceeedings,' before the Constitution was sent to the committee of revision, Wilson, Madison, and Hamilton endeavored to procure a reconsideration of this clause, for the purpose of establishing a more numerous representation of the people. Hamilton, who had always and earnestly advocated the introduction of a strong democratic element into the Constitution, although he desired an equally strong check to that element in the construction of the Senate, is represented to have expressed himself with great emphasis and anxiety respecting the representation in the popular branch. He avowed himself, says Mr. Madison, a friend to vigorous government, but at the same time he held it to be essential that the popular branch of it should rest on a broad foundation. He was seriously of opinion, that the House of Representatives was on so narrow a scale as to be really dangerous, and to warrant a jealousy in the people for their liberties.?
But the motion to reconsider was lost,3 and it was not until the Constitution had been engrossed, and was about to be signed, that an alteration was agreed to, at the suggestion of Washington. This was the only occasion on which he appears to have expressed an opinion upon any question depending in the Convention. With the habitual delicacy and reserve of his character, he had confined himself strictly to the
1 September 8.
2 Elliot, V. 530.
3 By a majority of one State.
duties of a presiding officer, throughout the proceedings. But now, as the Constitution was likely to go forth with a feature that would expose it to a serious objection, he felt it to be his duty to interpose. But it was done with great gentleness. As he was about to put the question, he said that he could not forbear expressing his wish that the proposed alteration might take place. The smallness of the proportion of representatives had been considered by many members, and was regarded by him, as an insufficient security for the rights and interests of the people. Late as the moment was, it would give him much satisfaction to see an amendment of this part of the plan adopted. The intimation was enough; no further opposition was offered, and the ratio was changed to one representative for thirty thousand inhabitants.'
It is now necessary to trace the origin of a peculiar power of the House of Representatives, that is intimately connected with the practical compromises on which the government was founded, although the circumstances and reasons of its introduction into the Constitution are not generally understood. I refer to the exclusive power of originating what are sometimes called "money bills." In making this provision, the framers of our government are commonly supposed to have been guided wholly by the example of the British constitution, upon an
1 That is to say, Congress were habitants, but not to exceed that authorized to apportion one rep- number. Constitution, Art. I. § 2. resentative to thirty thousand in
assumed analogy between the relations of the respective houses in the two countries to the people and to each other. This view of the subject is not wholly correct.
At an early period in the deliberations, when the outline of the Constitution was prepared in a committee of the whole, a proposition was brought forward to restrain the Senate from originating money bills, upon the ground that the House would be the body in which the people would be the most directly represented, and in order to give effect to the maxim which declares that the people should hold the purse-strings. The suggestion was immediately encountered by a general denial of all analogy between the English House of Lords and the body proposed to be established as the American Senate. In truth, as the construction of the Senate then stood in the resolutions agreed to in the committee of the whole, the supposed reason for the restriction in England would have been inapplicable; for it had been voted that the representation in the Senate should be upon the same proportionate rule as that of the House, although the members of the former were to be chosen by the legislatures, and the members of the latter by the people, of the States. It was rightly said, therefore, at this time, that the Senate would represent the people as well as the House; and that if the reason in England for confining the power to originate money bills to the House of Commons was that they were the immediate representatives of the people, the reason had no application to the two
branches proposed for the Congress of the United States. It was however admitted, that, if the representation in the Senate should not finally be made a proportionate representation of the people of the several States, there might be a cause for introducing this restriction. This intimation referred to a reason that subsequently became very prominent. But when first proposed, the restriction was rejected in the committee by a vote of seven States against three; there being nothing involved in the question at that time excepting the theoretical merits of such a distinction between the powers of the two houses.3
But other considerations afterwards arose. When the final struggle came on between the larger and the smaller States, upon the character of the repre
1 Let the reader consult Mr. Hallam's acute and learned discussion of this exclusive privilege of the House of Commons, (Const. Hist., III. 37-46,) and he will probably be satisfied, that, whatever theoretical reasons different writers may have assigned for it, its origin is so obscure, and its precise limits and purposes, deduced from the precedents, are so uncertain, that it can now be said to rest on no positive principles. Its basis is custom; which, having no definite beginning, is now necessarily immemorial. It would not be quite safe, therefore, to reason upon the well-defined provision of our Constitution, as if there were a close analogy between the situation of
the two houses of Congress and the two branches of the British legislature. The English example certainly had an influence, in suggesting the plan of such a restriction; but care must be taken not to overlook the peculiar arrangements which made it so highly expedient, that it may be said to have been a necessity, even if there had been no British example.
2 C. Pinckney. Elliot, V. 189.
3 On the question for restraining the Senate from originating money bills, New York, Delaware, Virginia, ay, 3; Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, no, 7. Ibid.
sentation in the two branches, the plan of restricting the origin of money bills to the House of Representatives presented itself in a new aspect. The larger States were required to concede an equality of representation in the Senate; and it was supposed, therefore, that they would desire to increase the relative power of the branch in which they would have the greatest numerical strength. The five States of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina had steadily resisted the equality of votes in the Senate. When it was at length found that the States were equally divided on this question, and it became necessary to appoint the first committee of compromise, the smaller States tendered to the five larger ones the exclusive money power of the House, as a compensation for the sacrifice required of them. It was so reported by the committee of compromise; and although it met with resistance in the Convention, and was denied to be a concession of any importance to the larger States, it was retained in the report,1 and thus formed a special feature of the resolutions sent to the committee of detail. But those resolutions had also established the equality of representation in the Senate, and the whole compromise, with its several features, had therefore been once fully ascertained and settled. A strong opposition, nevertheless, continued to be made to the exclusive money power of the House, by those who disapproved of it on its merits; and when the article by 1 Elliot, V. 285. Ante, Chap. VIII.