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Representative Government: What does it Mean?

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Background: The following is an excerpt from a debate held in the first Congress of the United States. The topic of the debate is whether or not the constituents of a representative could “bind” (or force) their representative to vote a certain way. In other words, some constituencies would send their representative to Washington with specific “instructions” on how to vote. As you can tell from the excerpt below, representatives had different opinions about whether or not a representative was bound to follow these instructions or if he could disregard them if he thought it was necessary. professional writing services near me

Instructions: Read the excerpt and complete Part I and Part II in a separate document. Submit your assignment through eCampus by Friday (3/8) at 11:59PM. Your answers must be in full sentences.

*** Mr. Page (from Virginia)- ….The honorable gentleman has said, that when once the people have chosen a representative, they must rely on his integrity and judgment during the period for which he is elected. I think, sir, to doubt the authority of the people to instruct their representatives, will give them just cause to be alarmed for their fate. I look upon it as a dangerous doctrine, subversive of the great end for which the United States have confederated. Every friend of mankind, every well-wisher of his country, will be desirous of obtaining the sense of the people on every occasion of magnitude; but how can this be so well expressed as in instructions to their representatives?…

Mr. Clymer (from Pennsylvania)- …This is a most dangerous principle, utterly destructive of all ideas of an independent and deliberative body, which are essential requisites in the Legislatures of free Governments; they prevent men of abilities and experience from rendering those services to the community that are in their power, destroying the object contemplated by establishing an efficient General Government, and rendering Congress a mere passive machine…

Mr. Sherman (from Connecticut)- …I think, when the people have chosen a representative, it is his duty to meet others from the different parts of the Union, and consult, and agree with them to such acts as are for the general benefit of the whole community. If they were to be guided by instructions, there would be no use in deliberation; all that a man would have to do, would be to produce his instructions, and lay them on the table, and let them speak for him…

Mr. Gerry (from Massachusetts)- …The friends and patrons of this constitution have always declared that the sovereignty resides in the people, and that they do not part with it on any occasion; to say the sovereignty vests in the people, and that they have not a right to instruct and control their representatives, is absurd to the last degree. They must either give up their principle, or grant that the people have a right to exercise their sovereignty to control the whole Government, as well as this branch of it…***

PART I: Summarize each of the Representatives argument in two to three sentences. Be sure to include the advantages/merits of each argument.

PART II: In two to three paragraphs describe which argument you find most convincing and why.

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