Constitutional Convention Notes

The Constitutional Convention begins
• 1787 - Philadelphia
• Delegates from all the states invited to a convention to improve the Articles of Confederation, which were not working
• Only RI didn’t attend
• 55 Delegates attended

Leaders of the Convention
• George Washington was asked to preside (lead) over the convention.
• James Madison kept notes of the discussions and is often called “The Father of the Constitution.”
• The men who wrote the Constitution are called the "Founding Fathers."
• All the participants in the Convention were wealthy, white, males.

Issues that divided the Nation’s leaders
• The power of the federal government. Would the states or the federal government have the most power?
• Representation in Congress (How many members on Congress would each state get? – small states wanted equal representation, large states wanted it to be determined by population of the states
• Slavery – How would slaves be counted? Would the slave trade continue?

The Virginia Plan
• Called for a new national government. Threw out the Articles of Confederation
• Three separate branches of government. – a legislative branch, executive branch, and judicial branch
• Representation in the legislative branch based on population of state
• Large states like the plan, small don’t.

New Jersey Plan
• Legislature - has one house.
• Each state gets one vote.
• Small states like the plan, the large states hate it.
• There would have to be a compromise.

The Great Compromise
• Legislature would have two houses (parts): House of Representatives and a Senate
• House - based on the population of state
• Senate - two senators per each state


• The Southern states refused to approve the Constitution unless slavery continued.
• It was a terrible compromise to make, but the Northern states had no choice if they wanted a Constitution.
• 3/5 Compromise - Made each slave worth 3/5 of a vote in deciding numbers in House of Representatives
• Congress could not ban the slave trade until 1808.