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Thread: Why 2 senators (instead of 1) per state?

  1. #1

    Why 2 senators (instead of 1) per state?

    Ignoring the 17th, if senators are supposed to represent their state governments, why would there need to be two?

    Is it just that one person might get sick or unable to fulfill their duty? And the smaller states would have preferred half a vote as opposed to no vote? Given the communication delay back then, a state government wouldn't have been able to send a (temporary) replacement fast enough for votes?

    But even then, why not just make it 1 vote per state where any number of people from a given state can be sent to represent the state government? And if the multiple senators of a given state aren't able to agree (even though they're supposed to just relay the message from the state government), the state has bigger issues to worry about.

    Before 1913, were there senators from the same state that voted differently?



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  3. #2
    Turns out senate.gov has some information about the origins and development of Article 1 section 3:

    According to constitutional commentator Joseph Story (1779-1845), few, if any, delegates considered one senator per state sufficient representation. Lone senators might leave their state unrepresented in times of illness or absence, and would have no colleague to consult with on state issues. Additional senators, moreover, would increase the size of the Senate, making it a more knowledgeable body, and better able to counter the influence of the House. On the other hand, a very large Senate would soon lose its distinctive membership and purpose, and actually decrease its ability to check the lower house or to allow senators to take personal responsibility for their actions.

    Given these considerations, delegates had a limited choice regarding the number of senators. During the convention, they briefly discussed the advantages of two seats versus three. Gouverneur Morris stated that three senators per state were necessary to form an acceptable quorum, while other delegates thought a third senator would be too costly. On July 23, delegates filled in the blank in the proposal offered by Morris and Rufus King: “That the representation in the second branch consist of _____ members from each State, who shall vote per capita.” Only Pennsylvania voted in favor of three senators. When the question turned to two, Maryland alone voted against the measure, not because of the number, but because Martin disagreed with per capita voting, which gave each senator, rather than each state, one vote.

    In its final form, the clause in the Constitution is deceptively simple. “The Senate shall be composed of two senators from each state” appears to be a single provision, the designated number of senators per state. Delegates agreed to this number, however, only after they had considered a larger matter: legislative representation. While representation proved to be the most controversial issue in the convention, delegates determined the number of senators quickly and with little dispute.
    http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/...n_Senate.htm#1

  4. #3
    so if you make a mistake and elect Mitch McConnell you have a second chance.

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by trey4sports View Post
    so if you make a mistake and elect Mitch McConnell you have a second chance.
    Would a state government have elected a Mitch McConnell? (No 17th amendment.)

  6. #5
    I found some more information in "The invention of the United States Senate" By Daniel Wirls, Stephen Wirls:

    By specifying that senators vote as individuals, these large-state delegates were trying to insure that the Senate would not be a replication of the Confederation Congress and to minimize the chances that senators would act simply as mouthpieces for state legislatures. This approach to voting also was closer to the ideal of a senate composed of fewer and wiser men for better deliberation.

    ... Clearly, no one considered one per state a safe number, not only for purposes of deliberation but also for the purely pragmatic reasons of absence, illness, and death. The Confederation Congress had been plagued by failures to achieve quorum.
    For the first part of "mouthpieces for state legislatures," wouldn't that be the point of the senator if it was picked by the state government? I suppose smaller states might have wanted to get the Senate to be an extension of the House in terms of voting for the people but getting a larger vote.

    The quorum issue is a bit odd in that of the 13 states, if only 6 senators showed up (assuming 1 senator per state), no work could be done. But I don't see why having multiple senators with one vote per state would have failed to achieve quorum of state representation (counting the number of states that had at least one senator present).

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by harikaried View Post
    I found some more information in "The invention of the United States Senate" By Daniel Wirls, Stephen Wirls:



    For the first part of "mouthpieces for state legislatures," wouldn't that be the point of the senator if it was picked by the state government? I suppose smaller states might have wanted to get the Senate to be an extension of the House in terms of voting for the people but getting a larger vote.

    The quorum issue is a bit odd in that of the 13 states, if only 6 senators showed up (assuming 1 senator per state), no work could be done. But I don't see why having multiple senators with one vote per state would have failed to achieve quorum of state representation (counting the number of states that had at least one senator present).
    I believe that's why the Articles of Confederation required at least 2 delegates from each state and said that 9 states had to consent to the same. The Constitution isn't as good on this issue in my opinion.

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by harikaried View Post
    Would a state government have elected a Mitch McConnell? (No 17th amendment.)
    That's pretty likely. It's also pretty likely that it wouldn't have elected Rand Paul so good thing it's popular vote
    Lifetime member of more than 1 national gun organization and the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance. Part of Young Americans for Liberty and Campaign for Liberty. Free State Project participant and multi-year Free Talk Live AMPlifier.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by trey4sports View Post
    so if you make a mistake and elect Mitch McConnell you have a second chance.
    I guess here in California we failed on our second chance and our first chance.

    Last edited by anaconda; 09-22-2011 at 12:49 AM.



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  11. #9

  12. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by LibXist View Post
    Why not 0 senators?
    South Dakota, Idaho, and Wyoming would be relegated to irrelevance.

  13. #11
    IIRC, The senate's number is what it is because it is designed to be more deliberative. Senate rules are quite different as well. One of the great mistakes in US history was amending the Constitution to allow popular election of senators. (17th amendment)
    Last edited by heavenlyboy34; 09-22-2011 at 11:06 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Torchbearer
    what works can never be discussed online. there is only one language the government understands, and until the people start speaking it by the magazine full... things will remain the same.
    Hear/buy my music here "government is the enemy of liberty"-RP Support me on Patreon here Ephesians 6:12

  14. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by anaconda View Post
    I guess here in California we failed on our second chance and our first chance.

    Yes we did.
    I am the spoon.



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