When the details of Virginia`s plan were discussed, it became clear that it was not a simple revision of the articles of Confederation, but a bold plan for an entirely new type of government – a government with a much more powerful “national” legislature and, unlike the articles of confederation, with a powerful chief executive. It also became immediately clear that, as bold and innovative as the plan may have been, many delegates in the room had serious concerns about certain aspects. For nearly four months, delegates tried to overcome and resolve their differences. The most controversial issues – those concerning the distribution of representation within the national legislature, the powers and modalities of election of the chief executive, and the place of the institution of slavery in the new continental political system – would take the form of the document, which was finally published on 17 September. September would be fundamentally changed. 1787. One of the most controversial issues faced by delegates was slavery. Slavery was widespread in states at the time of the Convention. Twenty-five of the convention`s 55 delegates owned slaves, including all delegates from Virginia and South Carolina. The question of whether slavery should be regulated by the new constitution was a matter of such intense conflict between north and south that several southern states refused to join the Union if slavery was not allowed. While waiting for the official start of the convention, James Madison described his first draft, which became known as the Plan of Virginia.
It also reflected his views as a strong nationalist. The Virginia Plan was a proposal by Virginia delegates for a bicameral legislature. Before the convention began, delegates from Virginia met and came up with a plan largely based on Madison`s proposals. Virginia`s plan proposed a two-chamber legislature. Rotation and dismissal were two principles applied to the lower house of the national legislator. Each of the states would be represented in proportion to its “contribution rates or the number of free residents”. States with large populations, such as Virginia, would have more representatives than smaller states. As part of its decision to become independent, the “United States” paved the way for the creation of the first written constitutions in world history.
Most of these state constitutions contained “bills of rights” in addition to creating specific contours of how their new state governments were to operate. These statements specifically spelled out the nature of the “inalienable rights” mentioned in the Declaration of Independence – rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of religion, the right to a jury trial, the right to bear arms under a “citizen militia,” and many, many others. These state constitutions were bold revolutionary experiments, and in many cases, because they were the first time that the political leaders of the state tried to write down how their governments should function, they were far from perfect. But they were an important step forward in the idea that the purpose of governments was to serve the public interest while protecting individual freedom. Two other questions about the president also sparked intense debate: how long should the president`s term last? And should the number of terms the president could serve be limited? This debate was based on the fear that a monarchy or despot might take control of the country. The Convention finally decided on a four-year term, with no limit on the number of times the President could be re-elected. More than half of the delegates had trained as lawyers, although only about a quarter practised law as their main profession. Other occupations were merchants, manufacturers, shippers, land speculators, bankers or financiers, three doctors, a minister and several small farmers. Of the twenty-five who owned slaves, sixteen relied on slave labor to run the plantations or other businesses that formed the backbone of their income. Most of the delegates were landowners with considerable property, and most were comfortably wealthy. George Washington and Governor Morris were among the richest men in the country. Each state would have two members in the Senate who would be elected by the state legislature.
Small states applauded and large states uncomfortably. But from that moment on, things went more smoothly. During the Constitutional Convention, the most controversial disputes concerned the composition and election of the Senate, how to define “proportional representation”, whether executive power should be divided among three people or whether power should be invested in a single president, how the president should be elected, how long his term should be and whether he could run for re-election. What crimes should be prosecuted, the nature of a fugitive slave clause, whether the abolition of the slave trade is allowed, and whether judges should be elected by the legislature or executive. Most of the Convention was devoted to deciding these issues, while the powers of the legislative, executive and judicial branches were not very controversial. Delegates generally agreed on the need for a separate executive independent of the legislature. (The executive would be called the “president.”) And they also agreed to give the president the power to veto laws, but only if his veto was overturned. As Madison noted, the general outline of Virginia`s plan was well received. But the question arose as to how members of both houses of Congress should be elected.
Throughout the summer, the Convention discussed this issue. Some delegates strongly opposed the election of the House of Commons. Roger Sherman of Connecticut was suspicious of the concept of democracy. People, he said, “should have as little to do as they could be in terms of government” because they “can be constantly misled.” Others strongly supported the referendum, including George Mason of Virginia. Mason trusted the common man and believed that members of the House of Commons should “know and sympathize with every part of the community.” Like the question of political representation, trade and slavery were two issues that separated the northern and southern states. The southern states exported goods and raw materials and feared that the northern states would gain unfair advantages. The South finally agreed not to require a two-thirds passage through both chambers to regulate commerce. The North agreed that the slave trade could continue until 1808. In addition, slaves would be counted as three-fifths of a person to be represented in the House of Representatives; it has been called a “three-fifths compromise.” Delegates proposed many different methods for electing the Chair. An alternative was direct election by the people, but this led to controversy.
Some delegates did not trust the judgment of the ordinary man. Others thought it was simply unachievable in a country where many rural communities are spread over a large area. George Mason of Virginia said: “When the convention ended, George Mason (1725-1792) continued to fear an ultra-national constitution and the absence of a bill of rights. On the eve of the adoption of the Constitution on 17 September. In September 1787 Mason noted these main objections to the version of his copy of the Draft Style Committee. Mason sent copies of his objections to his friends, from where they soon appeared in the press. George Washington, president of the Federal Constitutional Convention, revealed in his daily newspaper only a few of the personal conflicts and compromises of the delegates. But even the unwavering Washington revealed his frustration when, on September 17, 1787, he discovered that all the delegates to the Convention had adopted the Constitution except “Govr. [Edmond] Randolph and Colo.
[George] Mason of Virginia and Mr. [Elbridge] Gerry of Massachusetts. The process of state ratification of the United States Constitution has been divisive. This eighteenth-century satirical engraving addresses some of the most important issues in Connecticut politics on the eve of ratification. The two rival factions shown are the “Federals,” supporters of the Constitution who represented commercial interests and were in favor of tariffs on imports, and the “anti-federals,” those who are attached to agricultural interests and more receptive to paper money issues. .