Stuff About the Government!!!!
Those Memorable Compromises & the 3 Branches
The Virginia Plan
What was the Virginia Plan?
The Virginia Plan, also known as the Large State Plan or the Randolph Plan, consisted of 15 resolutions. The Virginia Plan proposed a structure of government to the Constitutional Convention that was held between May 25, 1787 and September 17, 1787 at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia.
Summary of the Virginia Plan
The Virginia Plan was presented in the form of fifteen resolutions that detailed reasons why the Articles of Confederation should be radically altered and plans for a strong National Government that could collect taxes and make and enforce laws. The Virginia Plan was based on a national and state government system with a Separation of Powers consisting of legislative, executive, and judicial branches. A bicameral legislature (two houses) consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate would feature proportional representation.
Who proposed the Virginia Plan?
The Virginia Plan was sponsored and proposed to the Constitutional Convention by Edmund J. Randolph on May 28, 1787. Edmund Jennings Randolph (1753 – 1813) was a lawyer and the Governor of Virginia who introduced and defended the Virginia Plan to the Convention's delegates. The 15 resolutions of the Virginia Plan immediately broadened the debate from revising the Articles of Confederation to including what form the structure and power of the national government would take. Under President George Washington, Edmund Randolph would become the first Attorney General of the United States.
Who wrote the Virginia Plan?
The first delegates to arrive at the Constitutional Convention were the delegates from Virginia that included James Madison (1751-1836). The enthusiastic James Madison drafted the Virginia Plan whist waiting for the conference to begin, he was the youngest delegate to attend the Constitutional Convention. The Virginia Plan was the first document to suggest a separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. James Madison was a political theorist, a planter and a politician who would one day become the 4th president of the United States. The work of Montesquieu (1689-1755) had a powerful influence over James Madison. Montesquieu was a French political theorist and a champion of liberty who was famous for his verbalization of the theory of separation of powers.
The New Jersey Plan
What was the New Jersey Plan?
The New Jersey Plan, also known as the Small State Plan or the Paterson Plan, consisted of 11 resolutions that were offered as an alternative option to the Virginia Plan. The New Jersey Plan was presented at the Constitutional Convention that was held between May 25, 1787 and September 17, 1787 at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia.
Summary of the New Jersey Plan
The New Jersey Plan was presented in the form of eleven resolutions drafted by William Paterson was collectively proposed by delegates from the small states consisting of New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and Delaware. The New Jersey Plan detailed a legislature of only one house and featured equal representation in which each state had the same number of representatives. The goal was for smaller states to have the same level of power in the legislature as the large states. The New Jersey Plan, like the Virginia Plan, also called for Separation of Powers consisting of legislative, executive, and judicial branches
Why was the New Jersey Plan formulated? What was the Virginia Plan?
The New Jersey Plan was formulated by New Jersey delegate William Paterson in response to the Virginia Plan (aka the Big State Plan) that had been proposed to the Constitutional Convention on May 28, 1787. The Virginia Plan had broadened the debate of the conference from revising the Articles of Confederation to including what form the structure and power of the national government should take take. The Virginia Plan had advocated a strong National Government that could collect taxes and make and enforce laws. It was based on a national and state government system with a Separation of Powers consisting of legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The proposals featured a bicameral legislature (two houses) consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate and a system of proportional representation.
Reason for the New Jersey Plan
The New Jersey Plan was therefore formulated by delegates from the small states providing alternative ideas for a new government system as a response to the Virginia Plan to prevent the large states becoming too powerful.
What did the New Jersey Plan Propose?
The New Jersey Plan proposed a unicameral legislation (one house) consisting of a single Congressional legislative body in which each State would have an equal number of representatives. Judge William Paterson had hoped that his New Jersey Plan would address the concerns of both large and small states. The small states would not be penalized on account of their smaller populations and the large states would no longer need be concerned about the formation of potential alliances
The Great Compromise
What was the Great Compromise of 1787?
The Great Compromise, aka the Connecticut Compromise, resolved the highly controversial issue of representation that was raised at the Constitutional Convention. that was held between May 25, 1787 - September 17, 1787 at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia.
Summary of the Great Compromise of 1787
The Great Compromise was presented at the Constitutional Convention,which was a meeting of states whose delegates were formulating plans for the National government. There were many disputes over the proposals between the large and small states and between the North and the South states. The Convention reached a complete deadlock over the issue of representation. Connecticut delegates Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth developed the Connecticut Compromise which would subsequently be called the Great Compromise. The Great Compromise consisted of the idea of proportional representation in the lower house (House of Representatives) and equal representation of the states in the upper house (Senate).
Great Compromise of 1787: The Deadlock
The two opposing sides could not agree, their views were extreme opposites. The Constitutional Convention reached a complete deadlock over the thorny issue of representation. It required the opposing sides to make concessions enabling a breakthrough to the deadlock over representation for the convention to continue.
Great Compromise of 1787: The Great Compromise on Representation
Connecticut delegates Oliver Ellsworth and Roger Sherman then proposed a compromise to resolve the subject of Representation in the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Great Compromise cleverly included elements from both the Virginia and New Jersey plans. The 'Great Compromise' basically consisted of proportional representation in the lower house (House of Representatives) and equal representation of the states in the upper house (the Senate).
Members of the House of Representatives should be apportioned among the states according to their population and should be elected directly by the people
In the Senate they proposed that each state, regardless of size, population, or wealth, should have two members
The Senators would be chosen by the state legislatures.
The states would be equally represented in the Senate with two seats for each state
It was also decided that the House of Representatives was the only house of Congress that could write bills to create taxes.
Importance of the Great Compromise
The importance of the Great Compromise cannot be underestimated. The issue of representation threatened to destroy the convention. The merits of the Great Compromise was discussed and debated and on July 23 the issue over representation was finally settled.
It was decided that there would be two chambers in Congress: the Senate and the House of Representatives
The House of Representatives would be based on population
The Senate would be based on equal representation of two seats per state
The Significance of the Great Compromise
The Great Compromise ensured the continuance of the Constitutional Convention
The Great Compromise established the Senate and the House of Representatives and allowed for them to work efficiently
The Great Compromise, combining the best elements of the Virginia and New Jersey Plans, established the Separation of Powers consisting of the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary branches
The Great Compromise was included in the United States Constitution
The Three-Fifths Compromise
What was the Three Fifths Compromise of 1787?
The Three Fifths Compromise, aka the 3/5 compromise, resolved the controversial issue of apportionment or population representation in Congress.
Summary of the Three Fifths Compromise of 1787 (Apportionment)
The Three Fifths Compromise was presented at the Constitutional Convention, which was a meeting of states whose delegates were formulating plans for the National government. There were many disputes over the proposals between the large (more populous) and small (less populous) states. One of the major disputes was over the issue of apportionment, which related to the method of distributing and allotting the seats in the House of Representatives based on population. Delegates James Wilson and Roger Sherman proposed the Three Fifths Compromise that counted every five slaves as three individuals in terms of the apportionment of representation and taxes.
Three Fifths Compromise: State Populations
The Constitutional Convention was attended by delegates representing 12 of the 13 first colonies. (Rhode Island declined to attend because it was fearful of losing its states' rights).
The large, more populous, states were Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts
The small, less populous, states were New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire and New York
Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina were small states in terms of population but hoped to increase their numbers by importing slaves and attracting more immigrants and people from other states
Three Fifths Compromise: The Slave States
The slave states particularly in the South wanted slaves to count as part of the population, but the free states of the North feared that the South would increase its power in Congress by importing more slaves.
The Southern states were South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and Georgia
In 1787, approximately 90% of slaves lived in the South and accounted for about 30% of the southern population
Every five slaves would be counted as three individuals in terms of apportionment of representation and taxes
The delegates to the Constitutional Convention finally agreed the Three Fifths Compromise, that slaves should be counted at three fifths of their real number. The Three Fifths Compromise resolved the issue of counting slaves towards population in regards to representation in the House of Representatives as well as counting slaves this way for taxation for the states.
So.....one slave is equal to 3/5 of a free man OR 3 out of every 5 slaves were counted for taxation & representation purposes.
Northern Views on the Three Fifths Compromise
Southern Views on the Three Fifths Compromise
The 3 Branches of Government
- Legislative -->The Congress
The legislative branch makes the laws of the United States, controls all of the money, and has the power to declare war.
Congress meets at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. Here they make the laws that all Americans follow every day. Members of Congress have offices in buildings that are attached to the Capitol and visit the Capitol for meetings and legislative sessions.
During the Philadelphia Convention of 1787, participants from large states wanted the number of representatives in Congress based on the number of citizens in the state—so the more citizens the more representatives. Participants from small states were worried they would have no power and wanted an equal number of representatives from each state. To be sure everyone had equal representation and power it was decided that the Congress would have two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The two houses work together to pass laws.
The Senate has 100 members—2 Senators from each state, regardless of its size. Senators serve 6 year terms, must be at least 30 years old, and there is no limit to the number of terms they can serve.
The House of Representatives has 435 voting Members each serving a two year term, must be at least 25 years, old. The number of Representatives from each state is based on the state’s population. Each state has at least one Representative.
By separating the two branches of Congress, Americans are guaranteed equal representation. The houses work together to pass laws that are then enforced by the Executive Branch and overseen by the Judicial Branch.
The executive branch enforces the laws of the United States, spends money as allowed by Congress, declares states of emergency, appoints Judges to the Supreme Court, and grants pardons for crimes.
REQUIREMENTS TO BE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:
- be a natural born U.S. citizen. Someone may be born abroad, but only if both parents were citizens of the United States. The only exception to this was for those around at the time the Constitution was adopted. Their requirement was that they had to be a citizen when the Constitution was adopted.
- be at least 35 years of age.
- have lived in the United States for at least 14 years to be president. This does not have to be consecutive or even the 14 years leading up to becoming president.
The executive branch of our Government is in charge of making sure that the laws of the United States are obeyed. The President of the United States is the head of the executive branch. The President gets help from the Vice President, department heads (called Cabinet members), and heads of independent agencies. Here are some of the things those people do:
- The President leads the country and commands the military.
- The Vice President becomes President if the President can no longer do the job and is also President of the Senate.
- Department heads advise the President on issues and help carry out decisions made by the Government.
The judicial branch oversees laws, judges when a law is unconstitutional, and makes arrangements for prisoners.
The Judicial Branch of the government is made up of judges and courts. The judges are not elected by the people like the president and members of congress, they are appointed by the president and then confirmed by the Senate.
There is a hierarchy of federal courts in the United States. District courts cover area of the countries and handle most of the federal cases and the first level of trials. Above them is the 13 courts of appeals. At the top of the Judicial Branch is the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has the final say. Federal judges are appointed for life. They can only be removed from office by death or by impeachment from Congress. This is to allow judges to make decisions based on their conscience and not on what they feel they need to do to get elected.
The job of the courts is to interpret the laws of the Congress. They do not make laws. They also only make decisions on actual cases where someone has shown that they have been harmed.
The Supreme Court
The highest court in the United States is the Supreme Court. The Constitution doesn't say how many Supreme Court Justices there should be. There have been as few as 6 justices in the past, but since 1869 there have been 9 justices.
The President nominates all the Supreme Court members and the Senate confirms them. They hold their offices for life.
The Supreme Court doesn't have a lot of trials. What they mostly do is review cases that have been appealed from the lower courts. Not all cases that are sent to the Supreme Court are reviewed. Around 7,500 requests are sent to the Supreme Court each year and they only consider around 150 important enough to review.
The Judicial Process
The Constitution states that every person has the right to a fair trial before a competent judge and a jury of their peers. The Bill of Rights adds to this guaranteeing other rights such as a speedy trial, the right to legal representation, the right not to be tried for the same crime twice, and protection from cruel punishments.
Once arrested for a crime, the accused will get to appear before a judge to be charged with the crime and to enter a plea of guilty or not-guilty.
Next the accused is given a lawyer, if they can't afford their own, and is given time to review the evidence and build up their defense. Then the case is tried before a judge and a jury. If the jury determines that the defendant is not-guilty, then charges are dropped and the accused goes free. If the jury has a guilty verdict, then the judge determines the sentence.
If one side feels that the trial wasn't handled correctly or fairly, they can appeal to a higher court. The higher court may overturn the decision or keep it the same. The highest court is the Supreme Court. There is no appealing a Supreme Court decision.