Constitutional Convention - Video

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The Constitutional Convention took place from May 25 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Up until then, the United States of America had been operating under the Articles of Confederation created and approved by the Second Continental Congress on November 15, 1777.

The goal of the Constitutional Convention was to revise the Articles of Confederation to deal with some problems such as a weak Federal government, tax disputes between states and rules for amending the Articles. Some at the Convention, including James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, wanted to create a new government rather than fix the existing one. Prior to the convention, Virginia delegates met and came up with the Virginia Plan, based on ideas and notes from James Madison. It proposed a two-part legislature, or bicameral legislature. One group would be elected by the people, the other by the elected representatives. It also defined an executive and judiciary body with the power to veto the legislature.

George Washington was elected to preside over the convention. Delegates at the convention believed that the Virginia Plan favored the large states to the detriment of the smaller states, since the number of delegates in both houses of the legislature was proportional to the state population. New Jersey delegate William Paterson, under the New Jersey Plan, proposed that the current Congress remain, but be granted new powers. The plan proposed creating executive branch to be elected by Congress, and a judiciary to be appointed by the executives.

Neither the Virginia Plan or the New Jersey Plan satisfied the needs of both large and small states. Roger Sherman from Connecticut, proposed the Connecticut Compromise on June 11. It blended the Virginia and New Jersey proposals. It proposed a two-branch legislature. The first branch, the House, would consist of representatives elected by the people, and the number of state representatives would be based on the state population. The other branch, the Senate, would have a single representative per state regardless of population.

In late July, the Convention appointed a committee to draft a Constitution based on the agreements from the previous proposals. A second committee than took the draft document and turned it into the final document, including adding the Preamble and Bill of Rights. Some issues, such as slavery, remained unresolved and were left out of the Constitution.

Although the Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787, it took months and even years to get all of the states to ratify the document. Virginia was the last state to ratify the Constitution on January 10, 1791. Check out these videos to learn more about the Constitutional Convention.












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