Description

    Hugh Williamson Document Signed. One page, 8" x 12.75", [n. p.], [n. d.]. Williamson, a key participant at the U.S. Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia during the summer of 1787, signs this important document concerning proportional representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Text in the top margin reads in full:

    "According to the best information that has been laid before Congress concerning the population of the several States there should be 75 members in the first house on the supposition that each State should be allowed one member for every 35,000 Inhabitants."

    Below the text is a table in which Williamson lays out a detailed calculus for apportioning representatives to the first Congress of the United States on the basis of population. The names of the thirteen states are written in the left column. Other columns include estimates of each state's population and the number of representatives each should be due. An identical list is found today in Article 1, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution.

    Williamson, a North Carolina delegate to the Constitutional Convention, proposed basic features of governmental structure that still characterize the American system. Though this document is not dated, its subject was debated at the convention throughout the summer of 1787, with Williamson playing an influential role. In these debates Williamson is remembered as a fierce opponent of early proposals to grant equal representation to each state, regardless of population and for his advocacy of the three-fifths compromise, by which each slave was counted as 60% of a free American for representational purposes. Williamson also proposed the six-year term for a senator that remains in effect. As a revolutionary patriot, Williamson had pressed the American cause in Great Britain before hostilities broke out and served as a military physician during the war, sometimes passing into enemy territory to tend American prisoners. This document is affixed along the lower edge to a paperboard backing for an overall size of 8.5" x 13". Chipping occurs along the left margin.


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    October, 2013
    17th-18th Thursday-Friday
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