What Was the Core of Agreement among the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention

Immediately after agreeing to form a supreme national government, the delegates turned to the proposal of Virginia`s plan for proportional representation in Congress. [49] Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, the most populous states, were dissatisfied with the one-vote-per-state rule in the Confederate Congress because they could be minority-controlled by small states, even though they made up more than half of the country`s population. [50] Nevertheless, delegates disagreed on how best to distribute representatives. Contribution quotas appealed to southern delegates because they would include slave ownership, but Rufus King of Massachusetts pointed out the impractical side of such a system. If the national government did not collect direct taxes (which it rarely did in the following century), he noted, no representative could be appointed. The calculation of these quotas would also be difficult due to the lack of reliable data. Representation based on the number of “free inhabitants” was unpopular with delegates from the South, where forty percent of the population was enslaved. [51] Moreover, small states were opposed to any change that would reduce their own influence. The delegation of Delaware had threatened to leave the Convention if proportional representation replaced equal representation, so the debate on partition had been postponed.

[52] We take these truths for granted, that all human beings are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—that governments are used among the people to guarantee these rights, which derive their power from the consent of the governed. That whenever a form of government destroys these goals, it is the right of the people to change or abolish them and to establish a new government that lays its foundations on such principles and organizes its powers in such a way that it seems most likely that it will influence their security and happiness. A majority of delegates supported the election of the President by the Congress for a seven-year term; even if there were fears that it would give too much power to the legislator. Delegates from the South supported selection by state lawmakers, but this was rejected by nationalists like Madison, who feared that such a president would become an agent of power between the interests of different states and not a symbol of national unity. Recognizing that direct election was impossible, Wilson suggested what would become of the Electoral College — the states would be divided into districts where voters would elect voters, who would then elect the president. This would preserve the separation of powers and prevent state legislators from participating in the selection process. Initially, however, this program received little support. [81] Although many delegates arrived in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation, some had bigger ideas. With the help of James Madison, other delegates from Virginia proposed a new plan that set the stage for a fundamental transformation of government. He proposed three branches instead of one and divided the congress into two chambers, both represented by the population and not uniformly according to the articles of confederation as in the unicameral congress. The 4. In June, delegates discussed the Review Board.

Wilson and Alexander Hamilton of New York disagreed with the mix of executive and judicial powers. They wanted the president to use an absolute veto to guarantee his independence from the legislature. Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania recalled how colonial governors used their veto to “extort money from the legislature” and refused to give the president an absolute veto. Gerry suggested that a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress should be able to override any veto by the Review Council. This was changed to replace the board with the president alone, but Madison insisted on maintaining a review board, and the veto review was postponed. [83] On July 17, delegates worked to determine the powers of the Congress. The Virginia plan reaffirmed the supremacy of the national government, gave Congress the power to “legislate in all cases where individual states are incompetent,” and declared that congressional legislation would prevail over conflicting state laws. In a motion filed by Gunning Bedford, the Convention approved this provision, with only South Carolina and Georgia voting against. Four small states – Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland – have accepted the expansion of congressional power. Later in life, Madison said it was the result of the Great Compromise.

Once the small states were assured that they would be represented in the new government, they overtook “everyone in zeal” for a strong national government. [111] The 9. In June, William Paterson of New Jersey reminded delegates that they had been sent to Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation, not to form a national government. While agreeing that the Confederate Congress needed new powers, including the power to force states, he insisted that a confederacy required equal representation of states. [53] James Madison reports his words as follows:[54] Intense debate continued for another two weeks. Finally, delegates met and approved the Connecticut compromise on July 16. James Madison of Virginia arrived in Philadelphia eleven days earlier and was determined to set the agenda for Congress. [33] Before the Convention, Madison studied republics and confederations throughout history, such as ancient Greece and present-day Switzerland. [34] In April 1787, he wrote a document entitled “Vices of the Political System of the United States,” which systematically evaluated the American political system and proposed solutions to its weaknesses.

[35] Because of its advanced preparation, Madison`s constitutional amendment plan became the starting point for Convention deliberations. [36] In 1786-1787, twelve of the thirteen states – all except Rhode Island – chose seventy-four delegates to participate in what is now known as the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Nineteen of these delegates chose not to accept the election or not to participate in the debates. States had initially appointed seventy representatives to the Convention, but a number of appointees did not accept or could not participate, leaving fifty-five delegates to draft the Constitution. Almost all these delegates had participated in the revolution. At least twenty-nine of the delegates served in the Continental Armed Forces. Most of the delegates had been members of the Confederate Congress, and many had been members of the Continental Congress. Roger Sherman, a delegate from Connecticut, proposed a two-part legislature; States would be equally represented in the Senate, and state populations would determine representation in the House of Representatives. This created a bicameral legislature that gave each state equal representation in the Senate and population-based representation in the House of Representatives. Smaller states feared being ignored if representation was based on population, while larger states felt that their larger populations deserved more votes.

In the bicameral system, each party would be represented in a balance of power. Each state would also be represented in the Senate with two delegates, while representation in the House of Representatives would be based on population. Delegates eventually agreed to this “Great Compromise,” also known as the Connecticut Compromise. The debate among delegates about the nature of the U.S. presidency has been more heated and longer than that of representation in Congress. On the one hand, nationalists such as James Wilson and Governor Morris have argued emphatically for a strong and independent executive capable of giving the government “energy, deployment and responsibility.” They called on their fellow delegates to give the president an absolute veto over congressional legislation. At the other end of the spectrum, Roger Sherman, a dressed and brutal Connecticut delegate who would prove to be one of the convention`s most influential members, spoke to many delegates when he said that the “executive judiciary” was “nothing more than an institution to put the will of the legislature into action.” This led Sherman to conclude that the president should be removed from office “at will” if a majority of the legislature disagreed with him on an important issue. In the end, it was the compromise that won again – delegates agreed to give the president a limited veto, but that could be overturned by a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress.

The first major change rutledge insisted on was to severely restrict the essentially unlimited powers to legislate “in any case for the general interests of the Union” that the Convention had granted to Congress two weeks earlier […].