The way the U.S.
House of Representatives is to be constituted is specified in Article 1, Section 2 of the
U.S. Constitution (Article 1,
The House of Representatives shall be composed of
members chosen every second year by the people of the several states... No person shall be
a representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty-five years, and been
seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an
inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.
Representatives and direct taxes shall
be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this Union, according
to their respective numbers... The actual enumeration shall be made within three years
after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent
term of ten years in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of
representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state shall have
at least one representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the state of
New Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and
Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New- Jersey four, Pennsylvania
eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North-Carolina five, South-Carolina five,
and Georgia three.
Over the years, there has been (and continues to
be) many battles over apportionment of the U.S. House of Representatives.
- 1787 Constitution drafted by the
- 1790 First Census
- 1791 After much debate, Congress
approved a bill for a 120 member House and Hamiltons method to apportion seats among
the states. Hamiltons method won out over Jeffersons method. Hamiltons
method was supported by the Federalists while Jeffersons method was supported by the
- 1791 President Washington vetoes
the above bill (first veto in US history!).
- 1791 The House, unable to
override the veto, passed a new bill for a 105 member House and Jeffersons method to
apportion seats among the states.
(This method was used until 1840.)
- 1822 Rep. William Lowndes (SC)
proposed an apportionment method now known as the Lowndes method. It never passed.
- 1832 John Quincy Adams (former
President and, at this time, a representative from Massachusetts) proposes the Adams
method for apportionment. It fails.
- 1832 Senator Daniel Webster
(Mass) proposes Websters method. It fails.
- 1832 Congress passes a bill that
retains Jeffersons method but changes the size of the House to 240.
- 1842 Websters method is
adopted and the size of the House is reduced to 223.
- 1852 Rep. Samuel Vinton (Ohio)
proposed a bill adopting Hamiltons method with a House size of 233. Congress passes
this bill with a change to a House size of 234, a size for which Hamiltons and
Websters methods give the same apportionment.
- 1872 A very confusing year! First
the House size was chosen to be 283 so that Hamiltons and Websters methods
would again agree. After much political infighting, 9 more seats were added and the final
apportionment did not agree with either method.
- 1876 Rutherford B. Hayes became
President based on the botched apportionment of 1872. The electoral college vote was 185
for Hayes and 184 for Tilden. Tilden would have won if the correct apportionment as
required by law had been used.
- 1880 The Alabama Paradox surfaced
as a major flaw of Hamiltons method.
- 1882 Concerns continued over the
flaws in Hamiltons method. Congress passed a bill that kept Hamiltons method
but changed the House size to 325 so that Hamiltons method gave the same
apportionment as Websters.
- 1901 The Census Bureau gave
Congress tables showing apportionments based on Hamiltons method for all House sizes
between 350 and 400.
- 1901 For all House sizes in this
range (except for 357) Colorada would get 3 seats. For 357, Colorada would get 2 seats.
Rep. Albert Hopkins (IL), chm of the House Committee on Apportionment, submitted a bill
using a House size of 357--causing an uproar.
- 1901 Congress defeated
Hopkins bill and instead adopted Websters method with a House size of 386.
- 1907 Oklahoma joined the union
and the New States Paradox was discovered as a result.
- 1911 Websters method was
readopted with a House size of 433. A provision was made to give Arizona and New Mexico
each 1 seat if they were admitted to the union.
- 1911 Joseph Hill (chief
statistician of the Census Bureau) proposed the Huntington-Hill method.
- 1921 No reapportionment was done
after the 1920 census IN DIRECT VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTION!
- 1931 Websters method was
adopted with a House size of 435.
- 1941 The Huntington-Hill method
was adopted with a House size of 435
- 1990 The U.S. Census Bureau, for
only the second time since 1900, allocated Defense Department overseas employees for
apportionment purposes. This resulted in Massachusetts losing a seat to Washington.
Massachusetts filed suit.
- 1992 Overruling a U. S. district
court decision, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled against Massachusetts on technical grounds
involving "the separation of powers and the unique constitutional position of the
President." (The President is charged with calculating and transmitting the
apportionment to Congress.)
- 1992 Montana challenged the
constitutionality of the Huntington-Hill method (Montana v. US Dept. of Commerce). The
Supreme Court upheld the method. Montana was upset because it lost a seat to Washington
based on the results of the 1990 census.