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Apportionment Bill

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

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."

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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