Constitutional Convention Snapshot

By Tami Cox

The Constitutional Convention

Taking place between 1787 and 1789 in Philadelphia, delegates from all the states except Rhode Island met to solve the issues of the Articles of Confederation. James Madison came up with the Virginia Plan, which benefitted larger states. In response, William Paterson came up with the New Jersey Plan, which would benefit the smaller states. In the end, Madison wrote the first draft of the Constitution, which benefitted both parties.

The Two Plans

The Virginia Plan

  • Supporters were generally large states
  • Calls for a much stronger government that can press taxes, make laws, control interstate trade, and reverse state laws
  • Suggests a three branch government with checks and balances
  • Calls for a bicameral legislature that is composed on delegates from all the states depending on their population

Supporters of the Virginia Plan

The New Jersey Plan

  • Supporters were from smaller states
  • Thought that the Virginia Plan gave too much power to larger states
  • Stuck closer to the Articles of Confederation, and suggested a three branch central government
  • The legislature is unicameral
  • Each state would have equal representation, no matter their population

Supporters of the New Jersey Plan

Problems at the Convention

There was a large debate between the smaller and larger states on representation issues. This lasted for days, and delayed the resolution. Furthermore, the delegates disagreed on the way to elect a president. The topic of slavery made the debate even more heated. However, after Madison wrote the first draft of the Constitution, most of the states agreed to the terms and the Constitutional Convention came to a close.

Works Cited

  • "A Biography of William Paterson 1745-1806." N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.
  • Costly, Andrew. "BRIA 25 2 The Major Debates at the Constitutional Convention - Constitutional Rights Foundation." BRIA 25 2 The Major Debates at the Constitutional Convention - Constitutional Rights Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2016.
  • History.com Staff. "James Madison." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.
  • "Milestones: 1784–1800 - Office of the Historian." U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State, n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2016.