George Washington Papers

VI: To the United States House of Representatives, 5 April 1792


To the United States House of Representatives

United States [Philadelphia] April 5th 1792.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives

I have maturely considered the Act passed by the two Houses, intituled “An Act for an apportionment of Representatives among the several States according to the first enumeration;” and I return it to your House, wherein it originated, with the following objections.

First—The Constitution has prescribed that representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers: and there is no one proportion or divisor which, applied to the respective numbers of the States will yield the number and allotment of representatives proposed by the Bill.

Second—The Constitution has also provided that the number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand; which restriction is, by the context, and by fair and obvious construction, to be applied to the seperate and respective numbers of the States: and the Bill has allotted to eight of the States, more than one for thirty thousand.1

George Washington.

Copy, DNA: RG 233, Second Congress, 1791–1793, Records of Legislative Proceedings, Journals; LB, DLC:GW.

1The House of Representatives this day read the president’s veto message, entered his objections into the House’s journal, and resolved to reconsider the bill “in the mode prescribed by the Constitution of the United States” on the following day. When the House voted on the bill on 6 April, it was defeated 33 to 23. On Saturday, 7 April, the House appointed a committee to bring in a new bill to apportion representatives among the several states. This committee, which was composed of representatives John Laurance of New York, Joshua Seney (1756–1798) of Maryland, and Jeremiah Smith (1759–1842) of New Hampshire, reported a bill that same day, which was read twice. On 10 April the bill, which set “the ratio of one for every thirty-three thousand persons in the respective States, was read the third time and passed.” The bill was signed into law on 14 April (Annals of Congress description begins Joseph Gales, Sr., comp. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature. 42 vols. Washington, D.C., 1834–56. description ends , 2d Cong., 1st sess., 539, 541–42, 549–50, 1359).

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