Constitutional Convention?!

Infographic By Zach Norton

What The Heck Is It?

Ever heard of the Federal Convention? Probably not, but in a few short sentences I'll enlighten your uneducated soul. The Constitutional Convention is the same thing as the Federal Convention, (cool huh?) and the initial purpose of this convention was to revise the Articles of Confederation but soon became one of the most important events in U.S. history. Chief delegates such as Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, brought together other delegates to create a new government rather than fix the old one. They elected renowned president George Washington to lead the convention and the group would soon form the law of our nation; The United States Constitution. In their meetings they discussed the powers of the government and how they should be distributed: Should the executive powers be divided amongst 3 people? Should the power reside in one president? Which acts should be cause for impeachment? How long should their terms be? These issues were the main topics of discussion. The committee agreed upon Madison's Virginia Plan and began to modify it into what became the rough draft of our constitution and soon to be the rule of the land.

Problems in the Convention

Some of the biggest debates of the nation were resolved at the Constitutional Convention. The main objective of the convention was to revise the Articles of Confederation because our nation was weak. They needed reformation because of the debt from the Revolutionary war and other pertinent problems. Our representative system was a huge deal; we needed to figure out who would have the powers of our newly found executive branch. Thus bore the discussion of giving total power to one person in executive congress. Presidency was validated with a majority vote and was passed in our constitution. Another problem would be the slave trade, some were for it and some were not, so we passed laws in favor of slavery that would soon be amended in Abraham Lincoln's terms of president. The Bill of Rights was presented and the omitted but soon to be realized as a mistake by Thomas Jefferson. It would be instituted later in the constitution.
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William Paterson

William Paterson was a New Jersey delegate and senator. He played a big role in the Constitutional Convention by creating the unicameral legislature that is now the New Jersey plan. He gave power to the smaller states and allowed their votes to be just as important as the bigger states. He wanted one electoral vote per state instead of multiple based on population. Paterson was also a supreme court judge nominated by George Washington.

Paterson's New Jersey Plan

William Paterson's New Jersey Plan was intended to challenge Madison's Virginia Plan. Because Madison's plan was to create both houses represented in terms of population proportion, it limited the legitimacy of the voice of the smaller states. Paterson argued against this and would ultimately be declined but it brought great consideration. Paterson's plan was similar to the plan of the convention; to draft amendments into the existing constitution. Another big part of the New Jersey Plan was to give the existing houses new powers such as the power to levy taxes and make sure that they're enforced. It also stated that the executive laws would take precedence over state laws, a huge part of our modern constitution.

Other Support for the New Jersey Plan

The New Jersey plan was not accepted to be the basis of our country but some of its aspects were instituted in the Virginia plan. It is not specifically clear about who supported the plan besides Paterson himself, but it is vaguely mentioned that other delegates were in favor of part of the plan.
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The Legacy of George Washington

As we all know, George Washington could've walked around naked and people would have followed him. The reason for that is he is considered the father of our country because of all of the pertinent contributions he made to society. Washington's story goes beyond a realistic understanding; The dude cheated death in an ambush by opposing warfare. Not only did he survive being shot 4 times and having his horses shot and killed, he came out uninjured. His political affairs were precedent as well. The delegates of the Constitutional Convention had to persuade him to join them, and when he decided to join them he was unanimously voted as the leader of the convention. George Washington was a natural born leader who came from a middle class family. He became a colonel in one of the most renowned forces in the world at the time. At age 23, Washington was made commander of all of the Virginia troops and continued his legacy. Soon after he retired from the British army, Washington began to cultivate crops and work side by side with the workers in the fields and although he hated slavery, he accepted it as the law. Politics loved him and he loved what he did; He joined the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1758. The man was as involved in politics as he was war, for he lead his men to several victories and continued to perfect the American idea. He opposed several acts and protested them which would be cause for the people to trust him even more; in the dismay of the states. In 1778 Washington was elected to lead the nation in attempt to bring together the people under the constitution that he helped draft.
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James Madison

James Madison is considered one of the fathers of our country because of his involvement in our constitution. Madison helped draft the constitution with his Virginia plan which would be accepted as the basis of our nation. He is also revered for being a backer of the Bill of Rights; The rights of the people and government as stated in the constitution. Madison was very active in politics as you can tell, he is also an accomplished co-writer of the Federalist Papers and the co-establisher of the Democrat Republican Parties. He was the fourth president of the United States, elected in 1803. Madison also initiated the war of 1812 during his second term.

Madison's Virginia Plan

Also known as the Large State Plan, Madison's Plan was revered and landed him with the honorable title of the Father of the Constitution. The Virginia Plan was the creation of the separate branches of government. There would be two houses and two of the three branches that we know today; the positions of the lower house would be elected by the people, and the higher house representatives would be elected by the officials of the lower house. The branches of government would eventually be separated into: The Executive Branch- Exists to ensure that the constitution will be enforced amongst all people. The Judicial Branch would also be instituted with the power to veto bills and proposals.


Jillson, Calvin C. (2009). American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change (5th ed.). Taylor & Francis.ISBN 978-0-203-88702-8.

The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 reported by James Madison : May 29. "The Avalon Project at Yale Law School