American Goverment: the Great Compromise

The Great Compromise of 1787 or the Connecticut Compromise of 1787 refers to the settlement of the dispute that rose due to conflicting views put forward by the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey plan. These plans proposed changes in the Articles of Confederation that was the aim of the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. However, whereas the Virginia Plan seemed to provide a greater representation of the more populous states in the national government, the New Jersey Plan was proposed by the smaller states aimed at preventing the balance of the US government from tilting in favor of the more populous states as per the Virginia Plan.

The Articles of Confederation, from 1781 to 1789, provided the virgin country with an efficient form government, transferring power from a monarchy to a democratic republic. However, The Articles of Confederation failed to secure our country. It left our nation utterly defenseless and divided without the existence of a standing national army and grievances among states. The reason for such a short period between its adoption and its revision was due to the many problems that occurred. Firstly, one of the most important problems was that congress had no control over taxes. The states refused to give the government the money it needed.

This led to many other problems. As a result of the government having no money, it could not pay off its debts of about $70 million from the revolution. Then the problem was that there were no federal courts. Disputes between the states could not be settled and they often refused to recognize or enforce the laws of other states. “Because of the fear that resulted from the colonial experience under the centralized government of Great Britain, the committee had been careful to give the states as much independence as possible, while also explicitly stating the limited functions of the federal government.

Yet, several years would pass and many revisions would occur before the Articles were finally adopted. ”(Ben’s guide to US government) This led to fugitives and criminals being able to escape prosecution by crossing state lines. The Virginia Plan proposed a strong national government that could make and enforce laws, and collect taxes. The people would be governed by two governments, the state and national. A system such as this is known as a Federal system of government.

Additionally, both houses of the legislature would feature proportional representation; basically, this means that the more people a state has, the more representatives it gets in the legislature. Clearly, larger states favored this plan. Smaller states were pretty scared about it, though. If this plan passed, it would mean that smaller states would have almost no say in the government. The debate over the Virginia Plan grew quite heated, and finally the small states asked for time to draw up their own plan, known as the New Jersey Plan “the plan traced the broad outlines of what would become the U.

S. Constitution: a national government consisting of three branches with checks and balances to prevent the abuse of power. In its amended form, this page of Madison’s plan shows his ideas for a legislature. It describes 2 houses: one with members elected by the people for 3-year terms and the other composed of older leaders elected by the state legislatures for 7-year terms. ”(Ourdocuments) Its legislature only had one house which featured equal representation – each state gets the same number of representatives. This way, smaller states had the same power in the legislature as larger states.

Ultimately, the New Jersey Plan was rejected as a basis for a new constitution. It was really a continuation of the old style of government under the Articles of Confederation. However, some ideas from it were used in the new constitution. The Virginia Plan was used, but many delegates felt that any new government would need new powers and a new organization to exercise those powers fully. “Perhaps the greatest debate undertaken by the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 centered on how many representatives each state should have in the new government’s lawmaking branch, the U.S. Congress.

As is often the case in government and politics, resolving a great debate, required a Great Compromise. ”(About) The Great Compromise that was reached by Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth on July 16, 1787 incorporated the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan in parts. It formed a bicameral legislature as proposed by the Virginia Plan. It also decided that the lower house would have representatives in proportion to population of each state. These representatives would be elected by the people.

However, while deciding on the representation of states in the upper house, as per the tenets of the Great Compromise, each state would have two members, irrespective of its population. Bibliography: 1. “The Articles of Confederation” http://bensguide. gpo. gov/9-12/documents/articles/index. html, updated: February 26, 2003, October 10, 2010 2. Robert Longley, “The Great Compromise of 1787”, http://usgovinfo. about. com/od/uscongress/a/greatcomp. html, September 23, 2004, October 10, 2010 3. “Virginia Plan (1787)”, http://www. ourdocuments. gov/doc. php? flash=old&doc=7, October 10, 2010.