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The Founders, on the Right to Vote

By       Message Eric Zuesse     Permalink
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Noam Chomsky  said  that "Madison faced the same problem-- the conflict between democracy and what they considered fairness--  and he picked the opposite solution.  His solution was to reduce democracy. So the country was founded on principles which are embodied in the constitution which are basically Madisonian in conception.  I'll just quote Madison, the purpose was, he said, "to place a political power in the hands of the wealth of the nation." But, as often happens with Chomsky, he cooks things up here; and so I shall present what Madison, and the other Founders, actually said, and the enormous issue they were struggling with here, which Chomsky has trivialized in comic-book fashion:

Since this will be lengthy, I shall highlight what I consider to be key passages, to facilitate skimming.

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FIRST SOURCE: James Madison's notes on the Constitutional Convention of 1787, mainly on the key debate of 7 August 1787.

Two versions, one is more convenient online, the other is much more complete:

The main version, Yale's, bowlderized and expurgated, but online-convenient (well-presented), version:

James Madison, Notes on the Debates in the Federal Convention.

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The secondary version, is much more complete and honest, but cumbersomely presented here

(here to be used only as a only a supplement, but it can be seen at the other site):

Max Farrand, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787.


13 June 1787, Madison paraphrases Morris, regarding Article 1, Section 7, Clause 1:

Mr. Gov'r. MORRIS. ... "There never was, nor ever will be a civilized Society without an Aristocracy." [Morris has here stated the problem, which is: how to overcome the tendency toward plutocracy.]


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5 July 1787

The 1st. proposition in the Report for fixing the representation in the 1st. branch, one member for every 40,000 inhabitants, being taken up.

Mr. Govr. MORRIS. [He] objected to that scale of apportionment. He thought property ought to be taken into the estimate as well as the number of inhabitants. Life and liberty were generally said to be of more value, then property. An accurate view of the matter would nevertheless prove that property was the main object of Society. The savage State was more favorable to liberty than the Civilized; and sufficiently so to life. It was preferred by all men who had not acquired a taste for property; it was only renounced for the sake of property which could only be secured by the restraints of regular Government. These ideas might appear to some new, but they were nevertheless just. If property then was the main object of Govt. certainly it ought to be one measure of the influence due to those who were to be affected by the Government

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They're Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that (more...)

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