Constitutional Convention of 1787

By: Sherese Rivers

The beginning

By, 1786, Americans recognized the Article of Confederation, the foundation document for the New United States adopted in 1777, had to be substantially modified. The Articles gave Congress virtually no power to regulate domestic affairs-- no power to tax, no power to regulate commerce. Congress had to depend on financial contributions from the states, and they often turned down requests without coercive power.

Trouble Beginnings

Congress had neither money to pay soldiers for their services in the Revolutionary War or to repay the foreign loans granted to support the war effort. In 1786, the United States was bankrupt. A this time the nation also faced many other challenges and threats. Southern states battle Northern states battle for economic advantage. Americans suffered from injured pride, as European nations dismissed the United States as "a third- rate republic".

Convention In Philadelphia

On May 25, 1787, delegates from various states met in the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia. Among the first order of business were electing George Washington as president of the convention and establish rulings such as, complete secrecy concerning its deliberations, that will guide the proceedings. The main business of the Convention began four days later when Governor Edmund Randolph of Virginia present and defended a plan of new structure of government called the Virginia Plan. It was chiefly drafted by fellow Virginia delegate, James Madison.

The Virginia Plan

The Virginia Plan called for a strong national government with both branches of the legislative branch apportioned by population. The plan gave the national government the power to legislate "in all cases in which the separate States are incompetent"and even gave a proposed national Council of Revision.

The Theory Behind Madison's Plan

James Madison believed that protection for liberty lay in structure of government, not in listing of "parchment"guarantees. Madison is basically saying that it was no need to involve everyone in the making of the Constitution, it should of been the government that should of came up with the laws and the running of countries. Madison saw it as the primary threat to liberty in the pass had came from the majorities capturing the reigns of power. His solution to this was to "enlarge the sphere"by giving much power to the federal government, he also felt like it's more difficult for only one group to have control over power. He believed it was protection for liberty , he further aimed to block the ability of oppressive majority from working its will against minorities by dividing power within the national government into three relatively co-equal branches, each of which would be given weapons to fight the other. He reasoned that it could only do limited harm if the other branches remained out of its domination.