The Constitutional Convention

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The making of the U.S. Constitution

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  • All in favor of the Virginia Plan say "aye."
  • We must compromise if we want to move forward.
  • On February 21st, 1787, Congress called for a Constitutional Convention to be held in Philadelphia, to revise the Articles of Confederation. The Framers realized something had to be done about the turmoil that was shaking the foundation of the already unstable government.
  • We need a means of determining the population.
  • The Constitutional Convention took place on May 25th, 1787, in the city of Philadelphia, with fifty-five delegates attending. Many heated arguments presided over two plans for the new government. These plans, known as the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan were very different in comparison. The Virginia Plan consisted of fifteen resolutions that would create a whole new form of government, while the New Jersey Plan took steps towards preserving the Articles of Confederation.
  • The president will serve a four year term.
  • The Great Compromise combined ideas from both the New Jersey Plan and the Virginia Plan, settling the argument about how many representatives each state could have in the House and Senate.
  • This new document will be called the U.S. Constitution.
  • The convention reached another stalemate when the delegates couldn't decide how to count slaves for taxation and representation purposes. However, they eventually decided on what is known as the Three-Fifths Compromise. This meant that each slave was to be counted as three-fifths of a person, as a means of determining the population for representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • With the legislative and judicial branches of government set up, the Framers now turned towards the executive branch. They agreed on a one-person executive, and after debating the length of term to be served, decided on four years.
  • The last section of the constitution to be drafted was the Preamble. The Preamble declares that the confederate of independent states was no more. It was now one American nation. The U.S. Constitution was signed on September 17th, 1787, by delegates from all twelve states in attendance.
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