Posted on February 9, 2015February 6, 2015
Under the Founders’ Constitution, U.S. senators understood for whom they worked.
Article I, Section 3, of the Constitution required that “[t]he Senate or the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislatures thereof…” As such, senators posed a barrier against federal usurpation of states’ rights.
During the Philadelphia Convention in 1787, John Dickinson of Delaware argued “that the members of the second branch (the Senate) ought to be chosen by the individual legislatures.”
George Mason of Virginia agreed. He said: “Whatever power may be necessary for the national government, a certain portion must necessarily be left for the states. It is impossible for one power to pervade the extreme parts of the United States, so as to carry equal justice to them. The state legislatures, also, ought to have some means of defending themselves against the encroachments of the national government. In every other department, we have studiously endeavored to provide for its self-defense. Shall we leave the states alone unprovided with the means for this purpose?”
Depending upon their point of view, Founders either hailed or lamented the fact that, by simply refusing to appoint senators, the states could see the central government “destroyed” (William Richardson Davie) and “put an end to” (Samuel Johnston). Or as Alexander Hamilton (who actually wanted a U.S. system similar to British mercantilism) opined: “It is certainly true, that the State Legislatures, by forbearing the appointment of Senators, may destroy the National Government.”
When bills came before the Senate, senators were compelled to understand the will of their states on the matter and vote in the best interests of their states. Several times, senators either resigned because they disagreed with their states on legislation or were recalled and replaced if they refused to vote as their states directed. [...]
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