Conservatives, on the other hand, hoped for a strong centralized government and felt that only a system of "national" representation would effectively represent the people. In this form of representation, elections would be administered by Congress and would be the same in each state: the people would be represented by a number of delegates proportionate to the population in their state. This method of representation places sovereignty more firmly in the nation than the state, and was deeply opposed by radicals.

The evolution of Benjamin Franklin's thinking on the topic of representation is interesting because it reflects the transition between a colonial mindset and a young national mindset. When Franklin drafted the Albany Plan of Union in 1754, he called for equal representation from each colony to that congress (two per colony). However, when he drafted the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union in early 1776, he called for a system of representation in which delegates were chosen annually in proportion to their population of males between the age of sixteen and sixty (one delegate to every five thousand). Franklin clearly distinguished between the union created during the colonial period, which didn't have much overall authority to begin with and could be a loose confederation, and the necessity for the young nation to place more authority in the hands of a central government.

Article 5 also established some precedents for our current national government. The years a delegate could serve were restricted (term limits), they had limited immunity from legal proceedings while Congress was in session, and their freedom of speech was guaranteed while in Congress.

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