In 1787, when the Constitutional Convention and an infant republic “hung by a thread,” two imaginative New Englanders solved the problem and saved the day. Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth, both representing Connecticut, proposed a bicameral legislature made up of one house representing population and the other giving each state an equal voice. The “Connecticut Compromise” — designed as a safeguard against the domination of smaller states by the more populous neighbors — entered history as perhaps the most crucial of all the bargains that enabled a new nation to be welded together out of the ramshackle Articles of Confederation.
But Connecticut, which today, along with a number of other states, faces a seemingly insurmountable budgetary crisis, may end up regretting the statesmanship of its illustrious forebears. Sherman and Ellsworth’s two-members-per-state system stands as a bulwark to prevent reckless states — Connecticut included — from raiding their more responsible brethren. Let’s thank them for their innovation.
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