Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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The Founding

Quotation du Jour

From James Madison:

The incompetency of one Legislature to regulate all the various objects belonging to the local governments, would evidently force a transfer of many of them to the executive department; whilst the encreasing splendour and number of its prerogatives supplied by this source, might prove excitements to ambition too powerful for a sober execution of the elective plan.

Categories > The Founding

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I'm convinced this is why the lower limit for Congressional district size was set at 30,000 (it was, I believe, the only debate George Washington took a public stand on at the 1787 convention). No limit was set on upper size--seemingly the more important part for our "modern" minds.

It might take some thought, but eventually the reasoning should become clear. If a House congressman has a minimum size on his district, then it is my belief that the Founders thought they had prevented him--for all time--from being able to say "I am able to know the hearts of my constituents so completely, so intimately, and so I can represent them so well that we no longer have need of state legislatures."

To which the Founding generation, accustomed to voting for--and seeing--their candidate on the courthouse lawn on voting day, and also being able to see *all* the voters together on one day--would have laughed in reply: "There is no way you can represent this district and have the national legislature make laws in "all cases whatsoever"--it's too big. We need smaller bodies too to take care of more local things."

My take, at any rate.

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