Constitution A Bundle of Political Compromises



Late in May 1787, George Washington welcomed delegates from twelve of the thirteen states to the Constitutional Convention. The fifty-five men in attendance expected to consider significant changes in their national government. In turn the Constitution as ratified was a bundle of political compromises that solved the differences among those delegates.
The first and foremost the issue at hand was what kind of government was best for a republic? A plan was submitted by the Virginia delegation that had a guiding spirit belonging to James Madsion. The Virginia Plan called for a government with three distinct branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. By dividing this power, it was intended to ensure that no group or individual could have too much authority. Also by allowing each branch of government some means to check the other branches, it was intended to protect the interests of citizens.
Although the delegates supported the principles of the Virginia Plan, they were in disagreement over many other issues. The greatest controversy centered on representation in the legislative branch. The Virginia Plan proposed that membership representation in each house would be based on population. Small states objected saying that it would leave them helpless in a government dominated by large states. In turn they supported the New Jersey Plan, which gave all states an equal representation regardless of the population.
Roger Sermen of Connecticut, with the help of Ben Franklin introduced the Great Compromise. It set up a bicameral legislature, where representation in the House of Representatives was based on population and in the Senate each state was guaranteed a fixed two representatives.
The issue of representation continued into the issue of who would be counted as a state’s population. Southern delegates argued that slaves should be counted for the purposes of representation but not for the purposes of taxation. Northern delegates argued that slaves should be counted when determining the state’s share of taxes and not counted in representation because they were consider property.
The Three-fifths Compromise settled the issue. It stated that three-fifths of the all the other persons population will be included in a state’s count and that. It would count for both taxation and representation in the House of Representatives.
The fourth issue that arose was who would control interstate trade? The solution was plain and simple, the federal government would control interstate commerce and imports/exports from foreign counties. The states, in turn, would be in control of intrastate commerce
The final issue was how the president would be chosen. In this case two issues were presented, Jefferson believed that the people should vote to determine the president. On the other hand, Hamilton felt that the people are not capable enough to decide. The solution combined both the ideas of Hamilton and Jefferson. It allowed the president to be elected indirectly through the Electoral College. Through the Electoral College, the electors are chosen by the states who vote for presidential candidates. Each state was entitled to as many electors as it had senators and representatives in Congress. The electors then voted for whoever got the majority of votes from the state voters.
The Webster’s dictionary defines the term compromise as “a settling of differences.” At the Constitutional Convention, the delegates of the states were faced with many disputes and solved them by the giving and taking of practical compromise. It can be concluded that the Constitution is a bundle of political compromises with examples such as the “The Great Compromise” and the “Three-fifths Compromise.” As a result the outcome was a new plan for a national government, which won unanimous support from the delegates.




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