The Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan


While many understood the need to change the Articles of Confederation as well as development of a new Constitution for the United States, there were those who felt the national government’s powers should be kept weak. They felt the national government and interests of the larger states would threaten the existence of the smaller states as well as state sovereignty (the right of individual states to govern themselves independently). Two major proposals related to this issue arose at the Constitutional Convention. The Virginia Plan would base representation in the legislative branch on population, while the New Jersey Plan sought to maintain the interests of smaller states by guaranteeing a set number of representatives from each state in Congress

The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 reported by James Madison
Go to http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/debates/529.htm and http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/debates/613.htm.

Directions - Read through James Madison’s notes of the convention debate of these two days, then answer the following questions in your notebook using complete sentences.

1. The Virginia Plan was introduced during the May 29th, 1787 session of the Constitutional Convention. Who was the delegate who introduced the plan to the convention?
2. For what reason(s) was the plan introduced?
3. List at least four of the problems or defects of the Articles of Confederation that Randolph claimed were unsolvable.
4. According to Randolph, how many branches would the new government include?
5. What powers (controls) would the national government have over actions of state legislatures?
6. What date was The New Jersey Plan introduced to Congress?
7. Look at the seventh article proposed in the New Jersey Plan. How would this article accord the “rights of suffrage”?
8. How many houses would the New Jersey plan include in the national legislature?
9. How would the “rights of suffrage” be determined in the other house?

Next, go to http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/debates/806.htm to find Madison’s notes from the Convention session of August 6th, 1787. Read through Madison’s account, then answer the following questions in your notebook using complete sentences.

10. According to Madison’s notes, how many houses would the national legislature include?
11. How many delegates made up the first House of Representatives?
12. How were the delegates divided per state?
How would House members be selected? How would delegates to the U.S. Senate be selected?
13. How were the delegates divided per state?
14. According to Madison’s notes, what requirements were there for members of the House of Representatives?
15. What requirements were there for members of the Senate?
16. Why do you think there was a different method for selecting senators than there was for selecting house members?
17. In your view, do Madison’s notes of August 6th favor those who desired a strong federal government or those who desired states’ rights? Explain your view