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The Beacon of Liberty, Vol. I, Issue 4

The Beacon of Liberty, Vol. I, Issue 4

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Published by Matt Erickson
The Beacon of Liberty, Volume I, Issue 4 details Article I, Section 2, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution and looks at electors and the substituting of names for things
The Beacon of Liberty, Volume I, Issue 4 details Article I, Section 2, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution and looks at electors and the substituting of names for things

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Matt Erickson on Aug 12, 2012
Copyright:Public Domain


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Section 1 of the First Article of the Constitutiongrants the legislative power unto Congress and divides thatbody into the House of Representatives and the Senate.Congress is referred to as a 
(two-chambered)legislature due to this division.Both chambers are
of Congress (as evidencedin Sections 5-7 of Article I: "Each House…eitherHouse…neither House…two Houses…respectiveHouses…other House…both Houses"), but only the
of Representatives is routinely referred to as such.The Senate is occasionally referred to as the
Upper House 
(due to its greater prestige with fewer Senators elected forlonger terms & advising and approving officers, justices,and treaties) and the House of Representatives the
Lower House 
, but this terminology is inappropriate in that they have generally co-equal powers.
Section 2
of the
 Article I
, divided into 5 clauses,covers the
House of Representatives
Clause 1
"The House of Representatives shall be composedof Members chosen every second Year by the Peopleof the several States, and the Electors in each Stateshall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors ofthe most numerous Branch of the State Legislature."
Representatives are chosen according to democraticprinciples; the individual meet
ing the necessary qualifications
receiving the most votes wins. It is alsodemocratic to the extent that when members vote while inlegislative session, they vote according to rule of themajority. The law voted on passes or fails by simplemajority vote (supermajority requirements will bediscussed when topics requiring this are covered) of themembers present in a quorum. While voting occurs according to democraticprinciples, the Representatives
 within a structureof a constituted federal republic. The manner in whichRepresentatives operate is the determining factor inassessing the type of American government; America istherefore in strictest terms a 
, rather than a Democracy.In a pure democracy, where anything and everything is up for a vote, the 51% majority overrule the 49%minority no matter the topic. This is the principle of 
mob rule 
. It is against this concept of majority-rulegovernment that James Madison stated in
The Federalist 
"Democracies have ever been spectacles ofturbulence and contention;have ever been foundincompatible with personal security, or the rights ofproperty;and have in general been as short in theirlives, as they have been violent in their deaths."
In the American republic, the proposed resolutionsand laws on which Congressmen are allowed to vote arestrictly limited to items within their delegation of authority. By 
limiting the topics 
on which members areallowed to vote, one has far more protections in therepublic rather than in a pure democracy.The House of Representatives is the Branch of Congress with more numerous members elected moreoften. The members of this group were meant to be closerto the common man, to represent his interests (withgreater numbers of Representatives, relative to Senators, itis easier for constituents to gain access to theirRepresentatives). An election
every second year 
 was themeans used for ensuring that Representatives didn'tventure far from the voter's desires. Those members that
Clause Discussed:
• Article I, Section 2, Clause 1
Concept Discussed:
• Electors
Volume I: Issue 4
Distributed by:FoundationForLiberty.org
1500 Highway 2
Copyright 2002, 2005 by Beacon of Liberty, LLC.
Leavenworth, WA 98826
did were to face the potential wrath of their constituentsrather quickly (in this age of pork-barrel politics,however, Congressmen are seldom judged on their strictadherence to their constitutional oaths, but rather ontheir ability to bring the most federal dollars back totheir District).Given that Clause 1 of Section 2 pointedly declaresthat Members shall be "chosen…by 
the People 
of theseveral States", it would certainly seem logical to expectthat
the People 
(i.e., nearly everyone) would electRepresentatives.Reading the rest of the clause dispels such logic,however, with it stating that:
in each State shall have theQualifications requisite for Electors of the mostnumerous Branch of the State Legislature."
Further reading therefore shows that there arequalifications being imposed by the States as to
People could qualify to vote — only those meeting thequalifications necessary could become an
. Thisis yet another example of the general wording of a clausebeing over-ruled by the actual process later detailed.The general wording is used in a "feel-good" mannerand detracts from that process actually specified.Each State individually decided the qualificationsnecessary of its Citizens who were allowed to vote forState Representatives. This standard was then used within that State to determine who could vote forfederal Representatives in Congress, negating the needfor a uniform federal qualification standard.The practical qualifications for an Elector in the1780's were that an Elector must be a (free) white, maleof at least 21 years of age, with property. It is here thatone begins to understand that the literal wording of thePreamble "
We the People 
of the United States" may nothave initially included every person in the United States,at least when push came to shove.
"The age of twenty-one was a qualificationuniversally required.So, too, was residence, exceptthat in Virginia and South Carolina it was enough toown in the district or town a certain free-hold or 'lot'.South Carolina required the electors to 'acknowledgethe being of a God, and to believe in a future state ofrewards or punishments.' White men alone couldclaim the franchise in Virginia, in South Carolina, andin Georgia…the other ten states raised no questionof color.In Pennsylvania, in New Hampshire, andpartially in North Carolina, the right to vote belongedto every resident tax-payer;Georgia extended to anywhite inhabitant 'of any mechanic trade';with thisexception, Georgia, and all the other coloniesrequired the possession of a freehold, or of propertyvariously valued, in Massachusetts at about twohundred dollars, in Georgia at ten pounds.
"The property requirement for voting wasremoved among the original thirteen states in thefollowing order of time:"In several cases, when the property-ownership qualification on the right to vote wasabandoned, the payment of a small tax, on thePennsylvania model of 1776, was substituted orcontinued;but in time that tax was also generallyabolished.By the middle of the nineteenthcentury practically all white male citizens in theoriginal states could vote."
Various barriers which limited voting of differing groups were removed by the following constitutionalamendments: the
(1870) removed barriers due to"
, color, or previous condition of 
" (i.e.,blacks allowed to vote). The
, ratified 50 years later,removed barriers "on account of 
" (i.e., womenallowed to vote). The
, ratified in 1964, removedbarriers to vote in federal elections due to the failure to"pay any 
tax" (i.e., the poor [or at least those notpaying direct Taxes] allowed to vote). The
, ratifiedin 1971, removed barriers "on account of 
" forcitizens of the United States, who are
years of age or older.The electoral requirements set by early Stategovernments prior to the ratification of theseamendments will be rightly viewed today asunnecessarily narrow, resulting in the denial of suffrage(voting) rights of many responsible adults.To concentrate on
happened to qualify as anElector at any given point in time and ignore the
used to exclude certain groups, however, is toignore a fundamental lesson which is critical tounderstand. Sometimes it is more important to firstunderstand the
used to achieve a desired
rather than to quarrel about which particular end shouldbe chosen at any given point in time.
B.O.L. Volume I: Issue 4: Page 2
South Carolina1784
New Hampshire
New York1842
Rhode Island1844
New Jersey1850
North Carolina
George Bancroft,
History of the United States of America from the Discovery of the Continent,
Volume V (Port Washington, NY: KennikatPress, Inc., 1967 [Reprint of 1885 Edition]), pp 114 - 115.
Charles A. Beard and Mary R. Beard,
A Basic History of the United States 
(New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1944) p. 213.
 Article I, Section 2, Clause 1 uses the word
 with broad meaning and is actually quite inclusive. The word
is then used to denote a specific sub-group of People with differing rights. Only certainmembers of the general class of People were allowed tovote; these People being called
. To limit who was capable of voting was as simple as
 who was an
— making the qualifications as loose oras restrictive as desired for the effect sought.Specifically-defining words in exacting fashion is a fundamental aspect of law. Unfortunately, such fineprint provides powerful leverage to the groupunderstanding it against those who do not. As an oldadage goes; "what the large print
, the small print
away". People understanding only the general wording form unrealistic expectations based on their(mis)perception of the actual wording.This provides persons understanding these laws (orcontracts) a distinct advantage over those people that donot understand these legally-limited words. People geteasily confused as to what is going on when law appearsto declare one thing, but actually supports another.They jump to the incorrect conclusion that
words have no meaning 
 when in truth these words only have a meaning that is unbeknownst to them.Various laws have been enacted toattempt to remedy this to a certainextent in private contracts (truth-in-lending clauses and full-disclosure lawsare examples of this). Unfortunately,other than various criminal protections,minor civil rights protections and somecampaign financing disclosure, there arefew "truth-in-government" protections.The only instance of a truly hands-off, Laissez-faire type of actionremaining today lies in the interactionbetween government and Citizen, wherethe protection is actually most needed(and most abused).Government, being but a delegation of authority,operates through law. Where general law permitsgovernment action, regulations are enacted to setparameters for government action to carry out thatprimary law. While the writers of law are unable tocontradict law, they can certainly make law difficult tounderstand if that is within their intention by writing the various codes and regulations in a more ambiguousmanner than may be otherwise necessary.Essentially, everywhere the government appears tooperate outside the strict legal confines of the commonprinciples of the Constitution it does so by defining  words in exacting legal fashion outside their normalmeanings. This is the first rule of government operating in apparent excess of constitutional principles.For example, the picture and story below of Harley,a drug-sniffing dog, provides a humorous, if notrelatively harmless example of government-by-expediency and using words with limited legaldefinitions outside of their normal meanings.Understanding this example provides appreciation inother cases where the result is not-so-harmless.The background to Harley's story is that illicitdrugs command high market prices due to the premiumnecessary for providing an illegal substance in themarketplace where it is (for reasons beyond this writer'scomprehension) desired — resulting in drug smuggling.Dogs, besides being man's best friend, are easily-trained,personable, highly mobile, and have a powerful sense of smell. It was thus inevitable to combine the police'sdesire to patrol for smuggled drugs with a dog's keennose to search for those drugs. With widespread use of dogs for such purposes, federal funds are available fortraining and using drug-sniffing dogs by local police.
B.O.L. I:4:3
Sometimes it is more important to firstunderstand the
used to achieve a desired
than to quarrel about whichparticular end should be chosen.To limit who was capable of voting wasas simple as defining who was an
making the qualifications as loose or asrestrictive as desired for the effect sought.Substituting Names for Things
Photo by: Joel Davis/The Oregonian 1993
Harley, the Drug-Sniffing Dog

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