Constitutional Convention Snapshot

By Fletcher Hubbard

The Constitutional Convention

  • May 25, 1787 - September 17, 1787
  • While the original plan had been to revise the Articles of Confederation, the hidden intentions of the more radical attendees of the Convention were to create an entirely new government.
  • George Washington was elected amongst the group to act as moderator.
  • Lasted for multiple days due to the intensive debate which took place, often about representation of states.
  • The most heated debate was the argument over two different plans for representation -- The Virginia Plan, versus the New Jersey plan.

The Virginia Plan

  • Drafted by James Madison, but presented by Virginia Governor Edmund Randolph.
  • The basis was that the congress would be a bicameral legislature, and that representation of states would be determined by population.

Supporters of The Virginia Plan

James Madison

  • Born August 16, 1751, in Port Conway, VA.
  • Wrote the Virginia Plan.
  • Commonly considered one of the most important Founding Fathers.
  • Fourth President of the United States.
  • Drafted the U.S. Constitutional and the Bill Of Rights.
  • In office from March 4, 1809 - March 4, 1817.

Edmund Randolph

  • Born August 10, 1753, in Williamsburg, VA.
  • Presented the Virginia Plan to the Convention.
  • Seventh Governor of Virginia.
  • Second Secretary of State.
  • First United States Attorney General.
  • American Attorney
  • In office from January 2, 1794 - August 20, 1795.

The New Jersey Plan

  • Presented by William Paterson on June 15, 1787.
  • Created in response to the Virginia Plan, it proposes a unicameral legislature in which each state has an equal amount of votes, regardless of population.

Supporters of The New Jersey Plan

William Paterson

  • Born December 24, 1745, in County Antrim, Ireland.
  • Wrote and presented the New Jersey Plan to the convention.
  • Second Governor of New Jersey.
  • Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
  • In office from March 4, 1793 - September 8, 1806.
  • From 1776 - 1783, he served as New Jersey's attorney general.

David Brearley

  • Born June 11, 1745, in Spring Grove, New Jersey.
  • Signed the U.S. Constitution on behalf of New Jersey.
  • Supported the New Jersey plan, and a follower of William Paterson.
  • From 1779 - 1789, he served as a New Jersey Supreme Court Justice.
  • During the convention, he was the chairman of the Committee of Postponed Parts, which played a vital role in assembling the final document.

Constitutional Unrest

  • The debate of slavery legality.
  • How states and population would be represented.
  • If slaves counted towards population.


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