If you are reading this, you probably have heard someone say that the Founding Fathers designed the structure of the federal government to protect the interests of rural voters.
This is false.
The Founding Fathers weren’t trying to protect the interests of rural voters. They had other concerns, which are well documented, but there is no provision of the United States Constitution that was intended to help protect the interests of rural voters. The closest that we can come are the clauses intended to protect slavery — and those are obsolete.
The Founding Fathers did not intend to protect the interests of rural voters. They considered the idea of disenfranchising urban voters once during the Constitutional Convention, but dismissed it resoundingly. Rural voters are over-represented in the Senate, but this is accidental.
The entire country was rural — including large states
When the Constitution was written, nearly the entire population of the country was rural. In Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia combined, there were four towns with a population of more than 2500 as of the 1790 census — all in Virginia, adding up to 1.5% of Virginia’s population. Virginia was the most populous state by a large margin.
In the country as a whole, the share of the population living in towns and cities with a population of 2500 or more was 5.1%. South Carolina, the most geographically compact of the Southern states, was slightly above this average, with 6.5% of its total population living in the major port city of Charleston. Rural voters, not urban voters, were the ones with overwhelming numbers.
The most urbanized state was the smallest state by area and second-smallest in terms of population: Rhode Island, where 19% of the population lived in Newport and Providence. No single city in any state exceeded 10% of the population of that state. By contrast, the least urbanized state today (Vermont) is over twice as urban as Rhode Island of 1790, and cities have grown enormously. New York City has grown from 33,000 to 8.5…