Analyzing the Evidence Exercises

A unicameral (one-chamber) legislature with equal representation for each state was one of the unique features of American government as it existed under the Articles of Confederation. For this reason, when delegates met to debate a new Constitution they were very concerned about how any representational changes would affect their states’ relative power and influence in the new Congress.

This figure shows the population of each state along with their delegates’ vote on two of the competing plans for representation in the new Congress. The Connecticut Compromise, which represented a hybrid between equal representation (as embodied in the Articles of Confederation and the New Jersey Plan) and the Virginia Plan’s population-based system, called for a bicameral (two-chamber) legislature that employed equal representation in the upper chamber and representation according to population in the lower chamber.

Votes on Two Plans

Name the two states that had the most to gain from the creation of a system that awarded legislative influence based on population.
2. Name the two states that had the most to lose from the creation of a system that awarded legislative influence based on population.
The vote on the Virginia Plan was to move from equal representation to a population-based system.
3. Of the six largest states, which ones voted in a manner consistent with an expectation that they cared about maximizing their representation in Congress?
4. Which of the six largest states did not vote in a manner consistent with maximizing representation?
The table below shows the number of seats that each state would be given out of the total 65 under two representational systems: one governed by equal representation and the other proportional to population (as represented in the first House under the new Constitution).i

State Population (under Three-Fifths Rule)i EqualRepresentation Proportional Representation
Virginia 630,499 5 10
Pennsylvania 432,128 5 8
Massachusetts 378,556 5 8
North Carolina 354,692 5 5
New York 331,764 5 6
Maryland 278,514 5 6
Connecticut 236,596 5 5
South Carolina 206,235 5 5
New Jersey 179,570 5 4
New Hampshire 141,836 5 3
Georgia 70,842 5 3
Rhode Island 68,729 5 1
Delaware 55,541 5 1
Recall from Chapter 1’s Analyzing the Evidence discussion that the median is a statistical term referring to the observation in the fiftieth percentile (half the cases are larger and half are smaller). Which state from the table above has the median population?
How did this state fare under the two competing representation plans?

i Population data based on 1790 census. Source: Historical Census Browser. 2004. Retrieved 5 December 2011, from the University of Virginia, Geospatial and Statistical Data Center: (accessed 2/22/12). 

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