English Influences Magna Carta (1215) Petition of Right (1628) English Bill of Rights (1689)
Philadelphia Convention When: May 25, 1787 Where: Independence Hall – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania What Purpose: To revise the Articles of Confederation
The Delegates All states sent delegates except Rhode Island. In attendance were some of the new country’s most distinguished leaders. All were white men. Among them were former soldiers, governors, and members of Congress. Their average age was 42. There were 55 total delegates. The oldest member was Benjamin Franklin. “-- an assembly of demigods – Thomas Jefferson ”
Other Notable Members Alexander Hamilton brought intellectual brilliance. Roger Sherman contributed legal and business experience. James Madison – the Father of the Constitution
Major Leaders NOT Present TThomas Jefferson and John Adams were serving as diplomats in Europe. SSamuel Adams and Patrick Henry were suspicious of efforts to strengthen the central government.
Father of the U.S. Constitution: James Madison 36 years old He was a serious student of politics and democratic theory. Perhaps the most profound political thinker and best prepared of all the delegates Took detailed notes of the discussions during the convention Major writer of the Virginia Plan
Decisions Before the Meeting Began Two Major Things had to be done before discussions began: 1. Elected George Washington to be the president of the Constitutional Convention 2. Adopted rules of procedure, including: Each delegate took a vow of secrecy In order for the Constitution to be ratified, 9 of 13 states had to approve it.
BIG Issues There were several issues that needed to be debated and discussed before a final document was written. 1. How should our U.S. government be structured? 2. How should slaves be counted within a state’s population? 3. Should Congress be allowed to regulate trade? 4. What should the executive branch look like, and how should the president be chosen?
How Should Our U.S. Government Be Structured? Should we add an executive and judicial branch? What should determine how many representatives each state gets in U.S. Congress – population or equal representation? There were two competing plans for the structure of our government: 1. The Virginia Plan – was designed to completely replace the Articles of Confederation 2. The New Jersey Plan – proposed a series of amendments to the Articles of Confederation
The Connecticut Compromise The compromise between the New Jersey and Virginia Plan was called the Connecticut Compromise. It was later called The Great Compromise. The Great Compromise was adopted on July16, 1787. It called for a bicameral legislature One house would be based on population. It would be called the House of Representatives. The people would directly elect its members. This satisfied the large states. One house would be based on equal representation. It would be called the Senate. There will be 2 Senators per state. The state legislatures would select its members. This satisfied the smaller states. Both houses would have to pass a bill before it became a law.
How should slaves be counted within a state’s population? Southern states wanted slaves to be counted within their populations. Delegates from the North thought if slaves did not have rights then they should not be counted as a part of the population. THE 3/5’s Compromise settled this issue. This said that slaves would be counted but they would be 3/5’s of a white male.
Should Congress Be Allowed to Regulate Trade? This issue was a Northern and Southern state issue. Southerners were afraid that Congress would use its legislative powers to ban the importing of slaves and also tax exports. The Commerce and Slave Trade Compromise settled these issues. This said that Congress could not ban the importing of slaves for 20 years and could not tax goods being exported.
What should the executive branch look like and how should the president be chosen? Some delegates wanted a single executive to lead our government while others wanted an executive committee made up of at least two members. The delegates eventually decided on a single president. The next decision was how the president will be chosen. Some delegates thought the average citizen was not smart enough to chose such an important position. They decided on the Electoral College. This was a group of electors from each state that would cast their votes to elect the president and vice president.
Finalizing the Constitution The delegates finished their work on the Constitution in August 1787. On September 17, 1787, the Constitution passed the convention. The document was ready to go to each state for approval.