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The First Presidential Veto, 3–5 April 1792

From: Washington Papers | Presidential Series | Volume 10 | The First Presidential Veto, 3–5 April 1792

1Editorial Note (Washington Papers)
Congress’s presentation of “An Act for an apportionment of Representatives among the several States according to the first enumeration” to Washington for his approbation on 26 Mar. 1792 set the scene for the first presidential veto in U.S. history. Recognizing the controversial nature of the bill, which increased the U.S. House of Representatives to 120 members, gave the size of each state’s...
Agreeably to your directions as delivered to me this day by the Attorney General, I have endeavoured to take into consideration the expediency of your giving your approbation to the Act intituled “An Act for an apportionment of Representatives among the several states according to the first enumeration,” the constitutionality thereof being doubted by some persons. I might plead my inability to...
The Secretary of the Treasury presents his respects to the President of the United States. He was informed, yesterday, by the Attorney General, that his opinion concerning the constitutionality of the Representation Bill was desired this morning. He now sends it with his reasons but more imperfectly stated than he could have wished—through want of time. He has never seen the bill, but from the...
The Constitution has declared that “Representatives & direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers,” that “the number of representatives shall not exceed one for every 30,000, but each state shall have at least one representative; & until such enumeration shall be made, the state of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse 3. Massachusets...
The attorney general of the U.S. has the honor of reporting to the President of the U.S., on the representation-bill, as follows: The points, which involve the question of constitutionality, are three: The bill does not announce in terms the principle of proceeding, either in the establishment of the total number of 120, or its apportionment among the states. Some principle, however, it must...
The opinion of the Secretary of State declares the bill unconstitutional—for it does not apportion the Representatives among the states strictly according to their numbers. It provides for fractions—which the Constitution never intended. It leaves the dertermination of apportioning the Representatives without any fixed principle—which may hereafter be productive of great evil, and admits of...
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...