Compromises at the Constitutional Convention Document Based Question Virginia Plan Before the convention started, James Madison had drafted a plan for a national government. He called it the Virginia Plan. • The Virginia Plan proposed a strong national government. • Under the Virginia Plan, two governments would govern the people. There would be the individual state governments and the national government. This is what we call the federal system. • The national government would have the power to make and enforce its own laws. It would have the power to collect its own taxes. • Divided the government into three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial branches. • The national legislature was to have two houses: The House of Representatives and the Senate. • The number of representatives would be proportional (determined by population of the state.) source: Center for Civic Education, We the People: The Citizens and the Constitution Edmund Randolph of Virginia proposed the Virginia Plan. He proposed a new federal constitution that would give the supreme power to the national (central) government. The legislature would be bicameral - made up of two houses, or groups of representatives - and chosen on the basis of state population. Larger states would thus have more representatives than would smaller states. Delegates from the smaller states believed that it would be too much power to the larger states. source: Holt. U.S. History: Beginnings to 1877 1. Under the Virginia Plan were the state governments or the national government given more power? 2. How many houses were to be in the legislature? 3. How was representation for each state to be determined? 4. Did this plan favor large states or small states? Explain your answer. New Jersey Plan William Paterson of New Jersey led the group of small states to develop a new plan for representation. Their plan was called the New Jersey Plan. The New Jersey Plan followed the framework of the Articles of Confederation. • It favored a weak national government. • It called for only one house of Congress. • Each state would have equal representation. • Congress would have the power to collect taxes on products and stamps, as well as to levy fines and collect money from the states if they refused to pay their taxes. • Congress also would have the power to regulate trade among the states and with other nations. • The New Jersey Plan also proposed executive and judicial branches of government. source: Center for Civic Education, We the People: The Citizens and the Constitution The smaller states came up with a plan to stop the larger states from getting too much power. New Jersey delegate William Paterson presented the small-state or New Jersey Plan, which called for a unicameral, or one-house, legislature. The plan gave each state an equal number of votes, thus an equal vote in the federal (national) government. The plan gave more power to the states but gave the federal government the power to tax citizens in all states, and it allowed the government to regulate commerce (trade). source: Holt. U.S. History: Beginnings to 1877 1. Under the New Jersey Plan were the state governments or the national government given more power? 2. How many houses were to be in the legislature? 3. How was representation for each state to be determined? 4. Did this plan favor large states or small states? Explain your answer. The Great Compromise The committee appointed to solve the problem of representation came up with the Connecticut Compromise. It is now called the Great Compromise and has 3 parts: 1. Congress would have two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. 2. Membership in the House would be based on proportional representation. The House would have the power to develop all bills dealing with taxes and government spending. 3. Membership in the Senate would be based on equal representation. At first, the Senate only had the power to accept or reject bills related to taxes and spending passed in the House. This power was later modified to let the Senate make changes to bills involving taxes and spending developed in the House. source: Center for Civic Education, We the People: The Citizens and the Constitution After a month of debate, the delegates were unable to agree on how states should be represented. The convention reached a deadlock. Finally, Roger Sherman of Connecticut proposed a compromise plan. The legislative branch would have two houses. The legislative branch would have two houses. Each state, regardless of its size, would have two representatives in the Senate, or upper house. This would give each state an equal voice, pleasing smaller states. In the House of Representatives, or lower house, the number of representatives for each state would be determined by the state’s population. This pleased the larger states. This agreement to create a two-house legislature became known as the Great Compromise. source: Holt. U.S. History: Beginnings to 1877 1. Compare and contrast the Virginia and New Jersey Plans and describe how the Great Compromise solved the conflict over representation.
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