The History of Congressional Apportionment

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By Charles M. Biles



The Congressional apportionment problem is deceptively easy to state: How many seats in the U. S. House of Representatives does each state get? To answer that question, Charles Biles, award-winning Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Humboldt State University, examines the math and politics that has shaped government and power from the founding of the country to the modern day.

Employing an interdisciplinary approach that stems from his research in mathematical modeling and the modeling of natural resource systems, Biles tells a flowing evolutionary tale of how slight changes in calculating apportionment has wrought massive shifts in political power and even decided presidents. Bile’s work adds another chapter to the rich story of American history and the people, politics, and debates that continuously shape the political system we have today.

This second edition includes a detailed account of the reapportionment based on the 2020 census, the impact of extreme partisanship, and an account of the precarious road ahead for the electoral college. This is an essential read for anyone who wants to understand the past and future of our representative democracy.



Publication Date



Humboldt State University Press


Arcata, CA


United States History


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For additional articles and resources on Congressional apportionment, please click here.

For apportionment population spreadsheets from 1790-2010, please click here.

Recommended Citation

Biles, Charles M.. The History of Congressional Apportionment. Humboldt State University Press, 2021.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License