Brutus on Representation

Brutus on Representation

Anti-Federalist writers criticized various parts of the Constitution. The Federalist writers, chiefly James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, often wrote in response to the concerns raised by the Anti-Federalists, such as representation in the new government. Anti-Federalist writers believed that representation under the Constitution was too small and would tend to elitism. Anti-Federalist writer, Brutus, had an interesting take on representation.

August Glen-James, editor

"They are the sign—the people are the thing signified."

The very term, representative, implies, that the person or body chosen for this purpose, should resemble those who appoint them—a representation of the people of America, if it be a true one, must be like the people. It ought to be so constituted, that a person, who is a stranger to the country, might be able to form a just idea of their character, by knowing that of their representatives. They are the sign—the people are the thing signified. It is absurd to speak of one thing being the representative of another, upon any other principle.

The ground and reason of representation, in a free government, implies the same thing. Society instituted government to promote the happiness of the whole, and this is the greatest end always in view in the delegation of powers. It must then have been intended, that those who are placed instead of the people, should possess their sentiments and feelings, and be governed by their interests, or, in other words, should bear the strongest resemblance of those in whose room they are substituted. It is obvious, that for an assembly to be a true likeness of the people of any country, they must be considerably numerous. One man, or a few men, cannot possibly represent the feelings, opinions, and characters of a great multitude.