According to the original version of the Constitution, how many representatives does a state have in the House?

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There is no numerical answer that can be given for this question.  The original Constitution did not specify exactly how many representatives each state would have in the future, though it did specify how many representatives each state would have at first.  It also did not specify the size of the House of Representatives.  Instead, all it gave was some basic guidelines that would help to determine how many representatives each state would have.

Looking at Article I, we can see that the Constitution sets out the number of representatives that each of the original thirteen states would have.  New Hampshire and Georgia each got three.  Delaware and Rhode Island each got one.  New Jersey got four.  Connecticut and each of the Carolinas got five.  Maryland got six and Pennsylvania and Massachusetts got eight.

However, this was not permanent and it did not specify exactly how many representatives new states would get.  Instead, the following guidelines were laid down:

• Each state would have at least one representative.
• Each representative had to represent at least 30,000 people (unless a state had fewer than that number, in which case they would still get one representative).
• The number of representatives would be proportional to the number of people in the various states.
• All free people (and indentured servants) would be counted, “Indians not taxed” would not be counted, and “all other persons” (slaves) would each count as 3/5 of a person.

Thus, the original Constitution gave specific initial numbers for how many representatives each state would have and then set up a formula for how to apportion the House after that.

Sources:

broscover | Student, College Sophomore | (Level 1) Honors

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If you refer to Article I, Section 2 this explains how many house representatives are assigned to each state. The name of this process is known as apportionment. There had to be a system for determining how many representatives were in each state because the states that had more representatives would hold more power than those with less. So a census is conducted every 10 years and the number each state receives is based off of the population.

Provision's had to be put into place because there were slaves in some states and not in others. According to the provision, "a state's population is to 'be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.' Thus, an indentured servant was counted as a whole person, and an African American slave was counted as only three-fifths of a person." (eNotes.com cited below) This specific provision had to be put into place because slaves in the south were much more numerous which would have tipped the scales of power in the favor of the southern states if each slave was counted as a whole person. So there had to be an agreement that made it fair for everyone and that is why they were counted as three-fifths.

broscover | Student, College Sophomore | (Level 1) Honors

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I tried to add this in the original answer but for some reason it did not show up, so here it is again.

"Constitution of the United States" West's Encyclopedia of American Law Vol. 3. Gale Cengage 2005 eNotes.com 14 Sep, 2013 <http://www.enotes.com/topics/constitution-united-states/reference#reference-constitution-united-states>