Writing the Constitution May

Writing the Constitution
May-September 1787
What were important plans and compromises
made during the Constitution?
What were motivations of the Framers?
What was the fear surrounding the Executive
The Constitutional Convention
 “the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of
 Constitution: document establishing the structure, functions, and
limitations of a government
 Prepared for treason? (completely new plans for gov’t)
 Fifty-five delegates from across the colonies attend; sworn to secrecy
(accompany Ben Franklin to meals)
 Refer to delegates as “Founding Fathers” or Framers, although average
age was 32
 Has been debate about Framers’ motives:
 Economic?
 Social factors? (order & stability)
What point is the cartoonist trying to communicate in this cartoon?
Virginia Plan
 Major issue of Convention: how to treat differences between large and
small states in the new union; regional differences
 Plan favored by the large states; proposed by Randolph and Madison of VA
(European nation-state model—power from the people, not indiv. states)
 Three-branch government (leg, exec, jud)
 Two-house legislature
 One house chosen by people, one by legislatures
 Legislature can choose executive and judiciary
New Jersey Plan
 Strengthen Articles—don’t replace them
 One house legislature with one vote for each state
 Representatives chosen by state legislatures
 Congress can raise revenues from duties (taxes) on
imports and postal service
 Supreme Court with life terms appointed by executive
The Great Compromise
 Two-house (bi-cameral) legislature: House and Senate
 House chosen by people, Senate by state legislatures
 House based on population, two per state in Senate
 Revenue bills (spending/raising money) originate in the House
 National government is supreme
 Chief executive chooses Supreme Court
 Appeases both large and small states
Other compromises
 Three-Fifths Compromise regarding slavery
 Apportionment of taxes by adding number of free people+3/5 of “other Persons”
 Balance southern commercial interests with northern concerns
 20 years more slave trade (1807); ban on taxing exports to protect cotton trade
 South to hold 47% of House (prevent slavery attack, but not to foster spread of slavery)
Committee on Unfinished Portions handles executive
 President with four-year term (could be reelected)
 Electoral College (“to avoid tumult and disorder” of mass election; FP #68)
President can be removed from office by Congress
 House: impeachment; Senate: conviction and removal