The Constitutional Convention

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Reasons For...

The original purpose of the Constitutional Convention was to ratify the Articles of Confederation, but an entire new type of government emerged from the meeting. Two main plans were brought to the table- The Virginia Plan, and the New Jersey Plan. After five months of arguing, Roger Sherman finally created a compromise that all parties were happy with.

The Virginia Plan

The Virginia Plan, presented by Edmund Randolph, but written primarily by James Madison, the Virginia Plan laid out the basic governmental structure that were use today. A separation of powers between the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches. The Virginia Plan was supported by the larger states, because they had the most to gain with this plan- representation in the Legislative branch was determined by population size.

Supporters Included...

George Washington

Washington was born in 1732, on a plantation in Virginia. He was raised to be a gentleman, and had two major areas of study- military arts, and western expansion. He became a lieutenant colonel in 1754, and fought in the French Indian War. He worked on Mount Vernon from 1759 until the American Revolutionary War broke out, when he was elected the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army at the second Continental Congress, where he was a Virginian representative. In the Constitutional Convention, he was unanimously elected President, although he never truly wanted it. He retired to Mount Vernon after his second term and died on December 4th, 1799.

James Madison

James Madison was born in Orange County, Virginia in 1751. He attended the then-called College of New Jersey, but is now Princeton. he studied history and government, and was well-versed in law, so he was sent to the Continental Convention. Madison wrote the Federalist Essays, along with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay. He helped frame the Bill of Rights, and formed the Republican, or Jeffersonian Party. Madison served as Jefferson's Secretary of State until 1808, where he was elected President himself. He died at his estate, Montpelier, in Orange County, Virginia in 1836.

The New Jersey Plan

The New Jersey Plan was a counterproposal to the Virginia Plan, and was very similar to the Articles of Confederation. The New Jersey Plan kept a one-house system, where each state would get equal votes and representation. This plan was proposed by William Paterson.

Supporters Included....

William Paterson

William Paterson was born in 1745, in County Antrim, Ireland. His family moved to New Jersey and settled in Princeton in 1750. He had several degrees, and studied law at Princeton University. He was a member of the Provincial Congress from 1775 to 1776, The New Jersey Constitutional Convention in 1776, and was sent to represent New Jersey at the federal Constitutional Convention after being New Jersey's Attorney General from 1776 to 1783. He was one of the state's first senators in 1789, and held the position of state governor from 1790 to 1793, whereafter, he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1793, and stayed on until his death on September 3, 1806.

Luther Martin

Luther Martin was born in Piscataway, New Jersey in 1748. In 1774, he served on the Patriot Committee of Somerset County, New Jersey. He was elected to the Confederation Congress in1785, but was unable to make it, and in 1787, he was elected to the Constitutional Convention. He refused to sign the Constitution, because he felt that it violated the rights of the states, and he died in New York, New York in July of 1826.

The Problem With That Is...

One of the major arguments at the Convention was large states versus small states. The larger states supported the Virginia Plan, as it allowed them more power, while the smaller states favored the New Jersey Plan, because it gave everyone equal representation. Another issue faced was that of slavery- would slaves be considered for the population? It was decided that every slave was worth 3/5 of a person, and that the slave trade would be abolished in twenty years. There was also the issue of a Bill of Rights, as in there was none.