The Declaration of Independence, ratified in 1776, brought forth ideas and principles for a just and fair government. The Constitution outlined how this new government would function. The Declaration of Independence acts as the foundation and promise for the future, while the Constitution is the acting upon and fulfillment of those promises.
"Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the Consent of the Governed, ..."
Declaration of Independence
The Articles of Confederation, ratified March 1, 1781, acted as the first attempt at a Constitution. It introduced ideas such as state sovereignty, the concept that states are in complete and exclusive control of all the people and property within their territory. This idea would also be later incorporated into the U.S. Constitution.
Articles of Confederation
We must not repeat the ruling system of the British government. Instead, we must give more freedom and power to the states and keep the federal government weak.
The Constitutional Convention was called forth in 1787 because of the unsuccessful and unpopular Articles of Confederation. At first, the 55 delegates met to change and revise the AOC, but they ended up with an entirely new document aka the U.S. Constitution.
After the creation of the AOC, controversy arose among the states on how the Legislature should be organized within the government. Two systems arose: the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan. These two ideas would later be incorporated into the Constitution, establishing the organization of today's Legislative branch.
New Jersey Plan- unicameral- equal represen- tation in Congress- supported by smaller states who feared los- ing power in federal govern- ment
Virginia Plan vs. NewJersey Plan
Virginia Plan- bicameral- representation to Congress based on population- supported by larger states
The 3/5 clause stated that when determining a state's total population for legislative representation and taxing purposes, the government would count three out of five slaves as people. The 3/5 Compromise was implemented into the Constitution and can be found in Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3.
By following this clause, it will give the Southern states 1/3 more seats in Congress and 1/3 more electoral votes, but fewer if slaves and free people had been counted equally.
The "Connecticut Compromise" aka the Great Compromise was the measure that reconciled the debates at the Constitutional Convention calling for states proportional representation in the House of Representatives and equal representation in the Senate (2 people/state). This system of representation still guides today's Legislative branch and can be found in the Constitution.
Great Compromise- bicameral- HOR represented by population- Senate represented equally (2 per state)- 3/5 Compromise