Ch 7. sec. 2 part 2

Ch. 7 Sec. 2, Part II
The Constitutional Convention is on! Can it fix the problems of the Articles? Let’s
find out…
 When last we left off, there were 55 delegates to the convention, all white men
who owned property (because that’s who made all the decisions during this
 Once the convention got started, not surprisingly, the convention
unanimously chose George Washington to preside over the meetings, (You
get the feeling this country couldn’t do ANYHTING without Washington?)
----- Mr. Problem Solver
The delegates decided to keep the “doors closed” to the convention and keep
the sessions secret. This was definitely a good move because they could talk
freely about what needed to be done without worrying about the reaction
from the public.
The Virginia Plan
 After the convention got started, in a move that DID surprise many people,
Edmund Randolph, a delegate from Virginia, proposed that instead of trying
to FIX the Articles of Confederation, he proposed that the United states get
rid of the Articles and create a strong national government (central
government). This was DEFINITELY the right move to make, but it was
surprising that they did it, since the states were still stubborn about not
wanting to lose any power.
 Randolph presented the Virginia Plan (which was actually written by James
Madison). The Virginia Plan called for:
o A two-house legislature (state government)
o A chief executive chosen by the legislature
o A court system
In the legislature, the members of the lower house would be chosen by the
people, and the members of the upper house would be chosen by the lower
house. (Everybody got it so far?)
In BOTH houses, the number of representatives would be proportional, or
corresponding in size, to the population of each state. So to give an example, this
would give Virginia more delegates than Delaware, which was the state with the
smallest population. (Still with me? Good…)
As you might expect, states like Delaware and New Jersey objected to this. They
preferred the Articles’ version, which each state was represented equally.
Delegates from smaller states rallied around a gentleman named William
Paterson (guess what town is named after him?)
(Wow, the only guy from back then without one of
those ridiculous wigs)
o Paterson presented HIS plan, named The New Jersey Plan, which to be
honest, wasn’t very good (Wow, way to represent New Jersey [sarcasm])
o In Paterson’s plan, it kept the one-house legislature from the Articles of
Confederation, with one vote for each state. Congress however, could tax
people and regulate trade (something it couldn’t do under the Articles).
o Paterson argued that the Convention shouldn’t take away the equality of the
smaller states that they had under the Articles. (So basically, he was just
trying to amend the Articles, rather than change the entire government
[which was exactly the WRONG thing the country needed to do, as we have
already discussed that the Articles were a total failure])
Compromise Wins Out
 So basically, the delegates had to decide whether they were going to revise the
Articles of Confederation or write a new constitution.
Eventually, the states decided to work toward the government outlined in the
Virginia plan, but they had to resolve the issue of representation in the large and
smaller states.
As you might (or might not have) expected, all the disagreement led to
arguments and tempers flaring. The convention was degenerating into a big
mess, so the issue needed to be solved, and soon.
Eventually, someone with sense, Roger Sherman stepped in and suggested a plan
that became known as the Great Compromise.
Under Sherman’s plan, it kept the idea of a two-house legislature, but changed
the original idea to:
o Lower House (House of Representatives)= # of delegates
proportionate to state size
o Upper House (senate)=Each state would have two delegates.
The 3/5 Compromise
 Another big issue was how to count enslaved people as part of the
Southern people wanted to include slaves as part of the population, in order
to get more delegates. Northern states argued that slaves were property and
shouldn’t be counted.
No matter how they disagreed on the issue, both regions never considered
giving slaves the right to vote (big surprise)
Eventually the compromise that was reached was known as the Three-Fifths
compromise, and it stated that an enslaved person should count as threefifths of a person when determining state population (Seriously. This is
really what they thought)
The compromise was approved.
Bill of Rights
 George Mason from Virginia introduced the idea of a Bill of Rights being
included in the new constitution. This was a “safeguard” of sorts that was
designed to prevent the new central government from abusing its power.
(This as a great idea)
But, as usual, stupidity/ignorance set in, and most delegates believed that the
Constitution was so clear about what the government could and couldn’t do,
that they didn’t need a bill of rights. So they shot his proposal down.
The committee finished work on the constitution in September of 1787. the
convention met again to approve it. Mason and three other delegates refused
to sign it without the bill of rights. (Good for them)
Approving the Constitution
 Despite the fact that the constitution was done, the real hard job was still
ahead: getting the states to approve it.
As we have seen, the states could be “big babies” about this, and remember,
at the time, ALL the states had to approve something before it passed (which
hardly ever happened).
Congress got smart and changed the approval process so that only 9 of the 13
states had to approve the new government.
Would it pass? Would we finally be rid of the garbage from the Articles?
Can this country get on its feet? Tune in next time for the exciting
1.) Who did the convention choose to preside over the convention?
2.) Who introduced the Virginia Plan?
3.) Who actually WROTE the Virginia Plan?
4.) What are the THREE Things the Virginia Plan called for?
5.) Who objected to the Virginia Plan? Why did they object?
6.) Who introduced the New Jersey Plan?
7.) How was the NJ plan different from the VA plan?
8.) What was the Great Compromise? (by this I mean how did it solve the issue of
representation? Explain)
9.) How were Southern people and Northern people disagreeing about slaves in the
10.) Explain the three-Fifths Compromise
11.) Who was trying to add the Bill of rights to the Constitution?
12.) What is the purpose of a bill of rights?
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