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The New Nation
Policies and Problems of the Confederation Government
Full Representation in Congress

The following document, passed November 1, 1783, suggests that many of the newly united states did not value highly their representation in the Confederation Congress. They may also have thought that by staying away from its deliberations, they could slow down the workings of the Congress. What issues did the committee discuss in its report? What solutions did they suggest to take care of the problem?

View the entire document from which this excerpt came, from Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.


THE committee consisting of Mr. Carroll, Mr. Duane and Mr. S. Huntington, to whom was referred a motion of Mr. Wilson, to devise means for procuring a full representation in Congress, having reported,

"That whether from the peculiar circumstances some of the states have been under during the war, or that the states in general were not sufficiently impressed with the importance of keeping up a constant representation in Congress, the committee cannot find on examining the journals, notwithstanding the repeated ernest recommendations for that purpose, that all the states have been represented at the same time: it appears that frequently there have not been more than nine states, and too generally not more than a competent representation for the lesser objects of the confederation. As the articles of confederation are silent upon this subject, any further than by fixing the number of delegates for each state, and by declaring how many shall constitute a representation, the committee presume such silence was in consequence of a firm reliance that the states could not be inattentive to a duty only essential to the interests of each state, but likewise to a principle on which the federal government itself rests.

The articles of confederation requiring, for certain purposes, the agreement of nine states, and as it has seldom happened more than that number have attended, the committee conceive, that not only the injury the public and individuals have suffered thereby, have been occasioned in many instances by the absence of the delegates of some of the states, but likewise that the spirit of the articles of confederation have been defeated, by making an unanimity necessary, whereas nine only out of thirteen are required. And the committee are further of opinion, that unless the states pursue effectual measures for keeping up a constant representation, another material object of the confederation will be frustrated. The delays unavoidable for want of a full representation, will they conceive, oblige Congress to remain sitting the whole year, whereas by the articles of confederation it appears, that it was expected part of the business of the United States, would be transacted by a commitee of the states.

The committee therefore are of opinion, that it should be earnestly recommended to the respective states, to take the most effectual measures to maintain at all times while Congress are sitting, a full representation, that the delay of business, which has proved injurious to the public, and grievous to individuals, may no longer be a subject of complaint.

RESOLVED, That Congress agreed to the said report.
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View the entire document from which this excerpt came, from Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.