The Will of the Community

Theories of Representation at the Founding and in Recent Political Practice


  • Gerald De Maio
  • Douglas Muzzio



In this essay, we develop the contrasting perspectives on representation advocated by the opposing sides at Poughkeepsie and the other state ratifying conventions, with some reference to the Philadelphia convention as well. The ratification struggle in New York State is emphasized because it produced America's contribution to the classics of western political thought, The Federalist and a well-articulated debate between two key protagonists, Alexander Hamilton and Melancton Smith. The continuing relevance of the positions advanced during the ratification debates of 1787 and 1788 can be found in the municipal reform movement at the beginning of the twentieth century, in the "apportionment revolution" of the last generation, and in the redistricting of the New York City Council in 1991.