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Constitutional Convention Dbq

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The sense of potential disaster and the need for drastic change pervaded the Constitutional Convention that began its deliberations on May 25, 1787. All of the delegates were convinced that an effective central government with a wide range of enforceable powers must replace the weaker Congress established by the Articles of Confederation. On May 29, Edmund Randolph, on behalf of the Virginia delegation, submitted fifteen propositions as a plan of government to the convention. Despite the fact that the delegates were limited by the instructions of their State legislatures to a revision of the Articles, Virginia had really recommended a new instrument of government. For example, a provision was made in the Virginia Plan for the separation of…show more content…
These discussions continued until June 13, when the Virginia resolutions in amended form were reported out of committee. The delegates agreed that the new government would be composed of three separate branches, based on ideals enumerated in John Locke's Two Treatises of Government: legislative, judicial, and executive, each with distinct powers to balance those of the other two branches. It was also agreed that the legislative branch, like the British Parliament, and the state legislatures (except Pennsylvania's), should consist of two houses. Beyond this point, however, there were sharp differences of opinion that at times threatened to disrupt the convention and cut short its proceedings before a constitution was drafted. The Virginia Plan provided for proportional representation in both houses, which dissatisfied the smaller states. The large states argued in favor of proportional representation in the legislature, so that each state would have voting power according to its population, calling equal representation, "confessedly unjust." The small states, fearing domination by the large ones, insisted on equal representation for all…show more content…
Madison argued that a conspiracy of large states against the small states was unrealistic as the large states were so different from each other. Hamilton argued that the states were artificial entities made up of individuals, and accused small state representatives of wanting power, not liberty. (see History of the United States Senate). For their part, the small state representatives argued that the states were, in fact, equal, and that proportional representation would be unfair to them. Gunning Bedford, Jr. of Delaware notoriously threatened on behalf of the small states, "the small ones w[ould] find some foreign ally of more honor and good faith, who will take them by the hand and do them justice." Therefore, on June 14, when the Convention was ready to consider the report on the Virginia plan, William Paterson of New Jersey requested an adjournment to allow certain delegations more time to prepare a substitute plan. The request was granted, and, on the next day, Paterson submitted nine resolutions embodying important amendments to the Articles of Confederation, which was followed by vigorous debate. On June 19, the delegates rejected the New Jersey Plan and voted to proceed with a discussion of the Virginia Plan. The small States became increasingly discontented and some threatened to withdraw. On July 2, the Convention was deadlocked over giving each State an equal vote
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