Building the Constitution

10pts by Austin

The Constitutional Convention

Each state sent delegates to Philadelphia's Independence Hall in May of 1787 to improve the Articles of Confederation. Most of these people were educated and had served in the state governments or the congress. These men did not agree on how strong to make the central government.

The Virginia Plan

Edmund Randolph from Virginia proposed the Virginia Plan after four days of meeting with the delegates. This Plan gave supreme power to the central government, and had two houses. The larger states had more representatives which gave them more power.

The New Jersey Plan

William Paterson of New Jersey presented the New Jersey Plan also know as the small-state plan. This plan gave every state the same number of votes, and an equal voice in the government. The government had the power to tax all states and control commerce.

A Compromise

Roger Sherman of Connecticut proposed a compromise which gave the legislative branch two houses. Each state would have two representatives in the Senate or upper house. The number of representatives in the House of Representatives or lower house would be determined by the state's population.

Three-Fifths Compromise

Some people wanted slaves to be counted in their population while others did not. The Three-Fifths Compromise solved this by allowing three-fifths of the slaves to be counted in the population.

The Commerce Compromises allowed the government to levy tariffs on imports, but not exports and only allowed slavery until 1807.

Most Convention delegates wanted a strong central government, but also wanted popular sovereignty.

Federalist Government

Federalism is the sharing of power between a central government and the states. The states had the power to control functions not assigned to the federal government. States had to protect the welfare of their citizens.

A Three Part Government

The government's power is divided into three branches which each had their own task. One branch is the Legislative branch, which is in charge of making and passing laws. This branch has two parts as proposed by Roger Sherman. The second branch is the executive branch, which is in charge of making sure that the laws are carried out. This branch includes the president and departments that run the government. The third branch is the judicial branch, which is made up of all of the nation's courts. This branch is responsible for interpreting law, punishing criminals and settling disputes between states.

Checks and Balances

The system of checks and balances keeps any one branch of the government from getting to powerful. After Congress passes a law the president can veto it, but the Congress can pass it again by a two thirds vote. The Supreme Court can rule a law as unconstitutional making it no longer a law.
The final draft of the constitution was completed in September of 1787. All but three of the 42 delegates signed it.