History

Question

At the Constitutional Convention, what did the smaller states have to fear about the Virginia Plan? What did the delegate from New Jersey propose instead?

2 Answer

  • The New Jersey Plan (also known as the Small State Plan or the Paterson Plan) was a proposal for the structure of the United States Government presented by William Paterson at the Constitutional Convention on June 15, 1787.[1] The plan was created in response to the Virginia Plan, which called for two houses of Congress, both elected with apportionment according to population.[2] The less populous states were adamantly opposed to giving most of the control of the national government to the more populous states, and so proposed an alternative plan that would have kept the one-vote-per-state representation under one legislative body from the Articles of Confederation. The New Jersey Plan was opposed by James Madison and Edmund Randolph (the proponents of the Virginia state Plan).


    Because the houses were based on population and the smaller states had less people. The Virginia Plan (also called the Large-State Plan), was one method to establish representation of states in Congress. By the plan, the number of representatives granted to a state would be directly proportional to the population of the state, and thus would grant more representatives, and more voting power, to the larger states. 

    The smaller states wanted to have equal representation amongst states; that each state would have and equal number of votes in Congress. These different desires by small and large states led to the Great Compromise of 1787, which established a Bi-Cameral legislation, two legislative bodies. 



  • Answer:

    The Virginia Plan was a draft that served as a basis for discussion during the Constitutional Convention of the United States of America in 1787. After the Articles of Confederation threatened to fail as a constitution, 55 delegates from twelve of the 13 states (Rhode Island refused to attend) held a joint meeting in Philadelphia to discuss the future organization of the Confederation. The Virginia Plan consisted of 15 individual proposals, each addressing a specific aspect of the government system. The plan was given its name by Edmund Jennings Randolph, Virginia's delegate, who introduced these during the assembly and was also the first to propose a completely new constitution - originally, only a revision of the Articles of Confederation was envisaged.

    One of the main features of the Virginia Plan, and one of the most controversial issues during the assembly, lay in the design of the Legislature. The plan provided for a two-chamber system in which both chambers should be chosen in proportion to the number of inhabitants. The population of each state would choose the lower house directly, which in turn would elect the members of the upper house. This proposal was criticized in particular by the less populous states, which feared a loss of power within the central government. As a counter-proposal, they submitted the New Jersey Plan.

    The solution to the conflict came after long debates in the Connecticut Compromise, which also provided for two chambers. The lower house should consist of directly elected representatives (today's House of Representatives). In the upper house, each state should have exactly two representatives appointed by them (the current Senate). From 1913, the senators are elected directly.

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