Constitutional Convention

Constitutional Convention

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  • You don't know? Let's find another place to sit and let me explain it to you.
  • Wait, wait what exactly are these humans all about? is there something important I should know? What is this America thingy? 
  • Back several hundred years ago, these humans came together to oppose a country called Britain, they basically ruled over the Americans since they created their colony. They had representatives from each of the 13 states they were inhabiting and created what is referred to as the "Constitutional Convention." At the first convention, they wrote their grievances to the king of Britain on a paper called the Declaration of Independence. That sheet formally declared their need for freedom!
  • Sooo, they told the king to cool it. What next?
  • Well, they of course got into a war with Britain, and surprisingly came out victorious! After that, they wrote a document about their new form of government since Britain was gone. That new document was to be called the Articles of Confederation. They had to decide on how their people would vote after that, how the people's voices could be heard. Bigger states supported the Virginia Plan, since it offered a bicameral legislature with membership based on the population in the states. The smaller states preferred the New Jersey Plan, a single house Congress with an equal vote
  • So what did they do to solve their conflict between the big and small states?
  • They solved the conflict with a compromise, the Great Compromise. It offered a two-house Congress with representatives chosen by the state's population. But, as always, another question arose. If the population was to be counted for representation, then the would the Southernmost states have an advantage? The South had many more slaves compared to the North, enough to make up 1/3 of the population of just one state. That's when another debate took place on the worth of slaves' lives. It was decided that, unfortunately, one slave would count as 3/5 of a person.
  • That isn't fair! What about the Declaration of Independence? Didn't it say "all men are created equal?" 
  • Yes, but it didn't matter to them.
  • After that frustrating event, the government decided they needed to change things up. Taking some ideas from Montesquieu, the government was split into three branches, the judicial, executive, and legislative. Judicial interprets laws made by the legislative branch and executive executes the laws. With those new branches, a system was set in place to make sure the branches can check and balance each other, in order to prevent an overpowering government. Another important piece is that around this time the delegates knew they had to make a new government plan, that's called the Constitution.
  • Unfortunately, yes.
  • Let me guess, another conflict?
  •  The main issue was that the Constitution didn't specifically state what rights the people of the nation had. Those who decided to support the Constitution as it was were called the Federalists and those who felt that a Bill of Rights, a document which stated the people's explicit rights, was needed were called the Anti-Federalists. It took a long while for any real progress, as well as many debates between the two sides. Ultimately it was decided that a compromise was needed, that was to add the Bill of Rights in order to finally ratify the new Constitution. The Ratification was necessary since many states said they wouldn't accept the Constitution until the Bill of Rights was added.
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