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The Constitutional Convention
Transcript of The Constitutional Convention
By the Fall of 1786, it was clear the Articles of Confederation had many weaknesses...
The Articles provided a weak national government and little control over state power
Congress was powerless to impose and collect taxes or duties
During the summer of 1787, Delegates from the original colonies joined together to fashion a Constitution that would forever change the nation
Weren't there original Colonies, though? Who is missing from the Convention?
It was decided that a Convention of delegates would soon meet to discuss the problems of the Articles and begin work on a new Constitution
Rhode Island refused to send delegates to the Convention. They were afraid that it would only be to their disadvantage. The state hoped that their absence would prevent changes to the Articles. When presented with the Constitution, Rhode Island refused to ratify it.
55 Delegates, including many Founding Fathers, from the remaining 12 States met at the Philadelphia State House for the summer of 1787. The initial date was set for May 14, but because of the difficulty of travel, it was not until May 25th that a quorum of 7 states was secured.
the minimum number of members of an assembly that must be present at any of its meetings to make the proceedings of the meeting valid
(formerly the Philadelphia State House)
The full number of 55 delegates was not seated at the Convention until August 6th, 1787.
Sentries were placed at the State House doors to ensure no one else could enter. The delegates agreed that the Convention proceedings should be kept secret in order to prevent outside and public pressure. The men could then speak their minds freely.
The Convention Opens
To revise the Articles or to make a new Constitution?
Just 5 days after the Convention began, the delegates voted in favor of a proposal put forth by Edmund Randolph of Virginia. The proposal stated that rather than attempting to revise the very weak and unfit Articles, the Convention would write a completely new Constitution for the Union.
George Washington was unanimously elected as President of the Convention
One vote for each state, regardless of size
No national court system to interpret laws
James Madison is often referred to as the "Father of the Constitution"
Compromise of Plans
The Virginia Plan
The New Jersey Plan
Written largely by James Madison
Bicameral national Legislature, or Congress, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate
Representation in each house would be based off a state's population
Voters in each state would elect members of the House of Representatives and then those officials would choose the members of the Senate
Congress would have the power to make laws for the states, override state laws, and force states to obey national laws
Congress would choose members of the judiciary and the president, who whould each serve for 7 years
Called for a stronger central government, supported by nationalists
Central government had power to raise taxes, regulate trade, and enforce national laws
3 Branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial
Having the power to make laws
having the power to carry out the laws
having the power to tell what laws mean and decide if they are carried out fairly
Proportional Representation or nay?
2 House legislature, upper and lower houses
Representation in Congress would be equal, no matter the size of the state, large or small (this was an element of the Articles of Confederation)
Congress would be elected by the state legislatures, not directly by the people
A multi-person executive would be chosen by Congress
This several person executive would have the power to appoint the federal judiciary
Protected the small states who feared a federal government ruled by the large states
a system of representation based on differences in population size between areas
One house legislature
The Connecticut, or "Great Compromise"
Although the Framers disagreed on a number of points, they also agreed on many basic issues:
Popular sovereignty, limited national government, representative system of government, separation of powers, and checks and balances
-Roger Sherman of Connecticut offered this compromise to the delegates at the Convention
-Considered the central Compromise of the entire Convention and marked a turning point in the Convention as it opened the door for other compromises
That Congress should consist of 2 Houses, a House of Representatives and a Senate
In the House, a state's representation would be based upon current population (to satisfy the larger, heavily populated states)
In the Senate, each state would have two representatives (to satisfy the smaller states)
The 3/5 Compromise
Should slaves be counted as part of the population?
Southerners: yes! This would increase their representation in the House. If they were not represented, the Southern states would remain weak in the House.
Northerners: no! Slaves cannot vote, why should they be counted?
The Compromise: All slaves would be counted, but the total population would be multiplied by 3/5
The Commerce and Slave Trade Compromise
This compromise was passed on July 16, 1787
Since the South's economy was more dependent on the export of agricultural products than the North's, delegates worried that northern business interests would try to hurt the interests of the agricultural South.
So, before they would agree to give the national government the power to control national and international trade, Southerners insisted that Congress be forbidden the authority to tax the export goods of any state.
The Southern delegates also argued that the slave trade was crucial to their region's economy
Northerners wished to abolish the slave trade completely
Southerners refused to remain part of the Confederation unless the Northern states would agree to not abolish the Slave Trade for a period of at least 20 years after the Constitution went into effect
The slave Trade was thus not abolished until the year 1808
On August 6th, the delegates had a separate committee assemble the various resolutions they had passed. The finished document had 23 Clauses.
The delegates met for the last time on September 17, 1787. No one was completely happy with the document, some even refused to sign. Most signed knowing that there was still room for improvement.
self-government based on the will of the people
what do we mean by "Founding Fathers" or "Framers of the Constitution"?
What do these words mean?
peace among states
government aid programs
provide for defense and safety of country with militia