United States History to 1865
Freddie M Waters III |
The Constitution of the United States is the legal structure of our political system, establishing governmental bodies, determining how their members are selected, and prescribing the rules by which they make their decisions. Drafted by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pa., between May 25 and Sept. 17, 1787, it is the world's oldest written constitution still in effect. In creating the Constitution, the states had several different reactions, including a rather defensive reaction, but also an understanding reaction. The states attempted to limit the power of the national government because they feared that it would become a monarchy. As a document that provided the laws of the land and the rights of its people. It directs its attention to the many problems in this country; it offered quite a challenge because the document lent itself to several views and interpretations, depending upon the individual reading it. It is clear that the founders’ perspectives as white, wealthy or elite class, American citizens would play a role in the creation and implementation of The Constitution. The Great Compromise is the Constitutional Convention’s agreement to establish a two-house national legislature, with all states having equal representation in one house and each state having representation based on its population in the other house. To satisfy the smaller states, each state would have an equal number of votes in the Senate. To satisfy the larger states, the committee set representation in the House of Representatives according to state populations. The Virginia Plan is a plan that proposed a government with three branches and a two-house legislature in which representation would be based on a state’s population or wealth. (W.R., Thomas Jefferson A Life 1993) The first branch as the legislature which made the laws. The second branch was the executive, which enforced the laws. The third branch was the judiciary, which interpreted the laws. The New Jersey Plan is a plan of government that called for a one-house legislature in which each state received one vote. In providing equal representation to each state, the New Jersey Plan was similar to the Articles of Confederation. After America was recognized as an independent country from England, the new republic went through almost twenty years worth of trial and error to find a government that would satisfy the needs of the citizens, the states, and the central national government. The most memorable, and influential, action of this time would have to be the Connecticut Compromise, proposed Roger Sherman, following the proposal of the Large and Small State plans at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. (A.A., America’s Constitution-A Biography, 2005) This Compromise directly affected the amount of representation from each state, and created the government system we are familiar with today.
In Tindall and Shi’s “America,” the reader is denied the opportunity to have a complete understanding of both the Virginia Plan (representing the large states) and the New Jersey plan (representing the small states.) In order for the people of today to comprehend their government, a detailed historical account of how our government came to be is an important factor. Given a brief explanation, the reader is only vaguely introduced to the concepts that there were disagreements in how our country should be run in the beginning. More emphasis is given to the outcomes and effects of the Connecticut Compromise than why the Compromise was needed in the first place.
The Virginia Plan, introduced by James Madison, suggested for the need of representation based upon a state’s population, including a states African American slavery population. Thus, it was deemed the Large State plan, since it obviously favored states with heavy population. Tindall and Shi explore this, but leave many