CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

As Told By Campbell Myers

BASIC INFORMATION

The Constitutional Convention began in May of 1787 in Philadelphia. Many states called for this convention in order to make changes and improvements to the Articles of Confederation, but was later used to help shape an entirely new government. The two main plans proposed at the Constitutional Convention were the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan. Eventually the representatives were able to work out a compromise and created what is know today as the United States Constitution.

THE VIRGINIA PLAN

The Virginia Plan is a plan based off the ideas of James Madison, and favored the larger states. This plan called for three branches of government including executive, legislative, and judicial branches with each branch having the power to check the other ones. Called for strong national government with power to make laws, levy taxes, control interstate commerce, override state laws. It also called for a bicameral legislature where the amount of members was based off of state population. The lower house members are elected directly by the people whereas upper house members are selected by state legislatures.

JAMES MADISON

When James Madison was born on March 16, 1751 in Port Conway, Virginia no one could have guessed the amazing places he would go nor the vital role he would play in the foundation of our country. Prior to the Constitutional Convention Madison served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates and as a member of the Constitutional Convention. During the Convention Madison was the proposer of the Virginia Plan and he played a very vital role in forming the new government of the United States. He later went on the be one of the presidents of the United States.

GEORGE WASHINGTON

Nowadays George Washington is a household name, but back in 1787 he was just another delegate from the state of Virginia. Born on February 22, 1732 in Westmoreland, Virginia Washington was only 55 during the Constitutional Convention. Besides being a delegate for Virginia, Washington also worked as a planter and slave holder, General of the Continental Army, Lending and Investments, Real Estate Land Speculations, and in Public Security Interests. Along with James Madison, Washington was a big supporter of the Virginia Plan. Washington later went on to become the very first president of the United States of America.

THE NEW JERSEY PLAN

Representatives from the smaller states believed that the Virginia Plan gave too much power to the larger states, so they created the New Jersey Plan. It called for a strong central government with three branches of power, but was similar to the Articles of Confederation. The plan called for an unicameral legislature where each state would have one vote regardless of population.

WILLIAM PATERSON

Born on December 24, 1745 in Ireland, Paterson immigrated to the United States with his family at the young age of two years old. He moved around as a young kid before settling in New Jersey and attending college. Paterson practiced as a lawyer but when the War for Independence began, he joined the New Jersey patriots and served in the provincial congress then later represented New Jersey in the Constitutional Convention. Although he departed the convention early before later returning, Paterson is best known for introducing the New Jersey Plan which gave more power to the smaller states.

ROGER SHERMAN

Born on April 19, 1721 in Massachusetts, Roger Sherman later became the delegate to represent Connecticut in the Constitutional Convention. Other professions include Lawyer, Merchant, Public Security Interests, and Cobbler. Sherman was one of the two delegates to sign all three of the Nation’s documents and played a very influential role in the making of our great country. He is best known for his contributions in helping the delegates of the convention reach a compromise everyone was happy with.

PROBLEMS AT THE CONVENTION

Any time a situation calls for a large amount of people to come together and make important decisions as a whole, problems will arise. And the Constitutional Convention was no exception. Most delegates agreed that the Articles of Confederation were much too weak to maintain a well functioning government and needed to be changed, but they couldn't agree on how to fix the existing problems. The larger states felt as though they deserved more representation considering they were voting for more people whereas the smaller states wanted equal representation because they didn't want the bigger states to have too much power over them. Two plans were purposed: the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan. After much time and work, a compromise was eventually agreed upon and the Constitution was signed.