Principles and Compromises of the Constitutional Convention

In May 1787, delegates from 12 states met in this
American city to discuss the Articles of
Confederation’s inability to solve the country’s
This compromise, also known as the
Connecticut Compromise, settled the dispute over
representation between large and small states.
Proposed by William Paterson, this plan was
favored by smaller states because it kept
representation equal among all states.
This basic principle of the Constitution
describes a government where “power resides in
the people” and “exercised by elected
This plan, proposed by Edmund Randolph and
James Madison, created a bi-cameral legislature
with representation in both based on a state’s
Principles and Compromises of
the Constitutional Convention
The Miracle at Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Convention
May 1787 – September 1787
After Shays’ Rebellion (and the threat of others)
delegations from 12 of 13*states met in Philadelphia.
Of the 55 delegates, most were wealthy planters, lawyers
and merchants. These men included Ben Franklin,
Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and GW.
Jefferson and Adams were NOT there. Jefferson was in
France and Adams was in England working as ambassadors.
The delegates quickly agreed:
1) Articles needed to be changed
2) Secrecy must be kept and
3) GW should be president of the convention.
Competing Plans for the
Virginia Plan (aka the large state plan)
-Proposed by James Madison (from VA)
-Called for a bi-cameral (two house) legislature.
-In both houses, the Senate and the House of
Representatives, the number of a states’ representatives
determined by a state’s population.
 New Jersey Plan (aka the small state plan)
-Proposed by William Paterson (from NJ)
-Called for a uni-cameral (one house) legislature.
-Regardless of population, each state would get one vote in
- This plan was the same as the Articles except it gave more
power to Congress.
A Bundle of Compromises
The Great Compromise (aka The Connecticut
-Proposed by Roger Sherman (from CT) after weeks of heated
and angry debates between small and large states.
-Created a bi-cameral legislature.
-The House of Representatives (lower house): states have number
of votes based on population.
-The Senate (upper house): states have equal number of votes (2
each) regardless of size.
 Three-Fifths Compromise
-Only 3/5 of a state’s slave population would count as population.
Southern states wanted all slaves counted and Northern states
wanted no slaves counted. WHY?
 Slave-Trade Compromise
-Congress could not regulate or interfere with the slave trade for
twenty years (until 1808).
The Principles of the Constitution
The belief that government should be based on the consent
of the people.
“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union . . .”
Federalism (Division of Power)
a system of government where power (sovereignty) is
divided between a national (or federal) government and local
(or state) governments. These powers are clearly listed in the
governing document – Delegated, Reserved and Concurrent
The Principles of the Constitution
Separation of Powers
An organization of government where its powers are divided among
different branches. This principle ensures that no one group has too
much authority or responsibility.
Legislative (law making) branch, Executive (law enforcing) branch and
Judicial (law interpreting) branch.
Checks and Balances
A system that governs how each branch of government will interact
with each other. This principle ensures that no one branch gains too
much power.
Executive can “check” the power of the Legislature by veto.
Legislative can “check” the power of the Executive by overriding the
Judicial can “check” both branches by declaring their acts