Summary—Representation in Congress

Each state can decide how it wants to select its delegates, but it must do so once a year, prior to the annual meeting of Congress on the first Monday of November.

States can send between two and seven delegates to Congress. A delegate cannot serve for more than three years in every six-year period. A delegate cannot hold another position in the United States government for which he receives any kind of payment or benefit, either directly or indirectly.

Each state has one vote in Congress, irrespective of how many delegates are sent.

Delegates' freedom of speech is protected while they are serving in Congress. Delegates may not be arrested or put in prison while they are in Congress, or traveling to and from, unless they have committed treason, a felony, or have been guilty of breach of the peace.


Article 5 strongly supports the sovereignty of states clause of Article 2. Instead of outlining a national system of elections to Congress, which would be more reflective of the overall population of the United States, the Articles of Confederation require that each state provide at least two delegates, regardless of the amount of land, population size, or wealth of that state.

Although John Dickinson's original draft of the Articles of Confederation included equal representation in Congress regardless of state size, other conservatives were deeply troubled by the implications of this form of representation. This issue became another debate between the radicals on one side and the conservatives on the other. The radicals argued that since the government of the United States was a loose confederation of equal and sovereign states, they must be equally represented in that confederation. Furthermore, radicals insisted that Congress did not have the authority to determine how elections were to be carried out in the individual states, each of which had its own constitution and means for holding elections.

Popular pages: The Articles of Confederation (1781-1789)