1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Apportionment Bill

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APPORTIONMENT BILL, an act passed by the Congress of the United States after each decennial census to determine the number of members which each state shall send to the House of Representatives. The ratio of representation fixed by the original constitution was 1 to 30,000 of the free population, and the number of the members of the first House was 65. As the House would, at this ratio, have become unmanageably large, the ratio, which is first settled by Congress before apportionment, has been raised after each census, as will be seen from the accompanying table.

Under Census. Apportionment. Whole
Number of
Repre-
sentatives.
Year. Population. Year. Ratio.
Constitution
First Census
Second Census
Third Census
Fourth Census
Fifth Census
Sixth Census
Seventh Census
Eighth Census
Ninth Census
Tenth Census
Eleventh Census
Twelfth Census
· ·
1790
1800
1810
1820
1830
1840
1850
1860
1870
1880
1890
1900
· ·
3,929,214
5,308,483
7,239,881
9,633,822
12,866,020
17,069,453
23,191,876
31,443,321
38,558,371
50,155,783
62,622,250
75,568,686
1789
1793
1803
1813
1823
1833
1843
1853
1863
1873
1883
1893
1903
30,000
33,000
33,000
35,000
40,000
47,700
70,680
93,423
127,381
131,425
151,911
173,901
194,182
  65
105
141
181
213
240
223
234
241
292
325
356
386


The same term is applied to the acts passed by the state legislatures for correcting and redistributing the representation of the counties. Such acts are usually passed at decennial intervals, more often after the federal census, but the dates may vary in different states. The state representatives are usually apportioned among the several counties according to population and not by geographical position. The electoral districts so formed are expected to be equal in proportion to the number of inhabitants; but this method has led to much abuse in the past, through the making of unequal districts for partisan purposes. (See Gerrymander.)

If a state has received an increase in the number of its representatives and its legislature does not pass an apportionment bill before the next congressional election, the votes of the whole state elect the additional members on a general ticket and they are called “congressmen-at-large.”