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The Constitutional Convention. American Government. Major Players. James Madison (Virginia) At this time Madison was the protégé of Thomas Jefferson. He was quiet, educated, short (about 5’2”), and master of oration. ( The Father of the Constitution ) George Washington (Virginia)

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The Constitutional Convention

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major players
Major Players
  • James Madison (Virginia)
    • At this time Madison was the protégé of Thomas Jefferson. He was quiet, educated, short (about 5’2”), and master of oration. (The Father of the Constitution)
  • George Washington (Virginia)
    • The leader of the Continental Army. Had it not been for Washington many would not have attended the convention.
  • William Patterson (New Jersey)
    • A major opponent of Constitutional overhaul. Patterson helped to create a plan that opposed Madison’s new vision for Government.
the convention
The Convention
  • The Constitutional Convention kicked off on May 25th and ended on September 17th of 1787.
    • The Convention was setup under the guise of revising the Articles of Confederation
  • This was shortly put to rest as Edmund Randolph proposed what became known as the Virginia plan. (Written by Madison)
    • This plan proposed a new constitution in which there would be:
      • A strong executive
      • A bi-cameral legislature (Congress split into two houses)
      • Representation based upon population
      • A Supreme Court
support for an executive
Support for an Executive
  • In order to drum up support for a stronger executive branch Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay began to write the Federalist Papers
    • These were a series of essays written under pseudonyms that talked up the benefits of having a stronger executive branch
    • They also tried to justify that a move toward a stronger central government was not a turn back towards monarchial power
  • Because of these papers those who supported a stronger federal government became known as Federalists
    • By default, those who were against a strong federal government became known as Anti-Federalists
  • To counter the Virginia Plan, William Patterson and others devised a plan of their own known as the New Jersey Plan
    • The New Jersey Plan called for:
      • A weak central government (harkening back to the Confederacy)
      • A unicameral legislature where each state would receive one vote
      • A Supreme Court
  • After much debate, the Virginia Plan and New Jersey plan were combined to create what was termed the Great Compromise or the Connecticut Compromise
    • This established a government that had:
      • A Supreme Court
      • A bi-cameral legislature
        • A Senate with 2 representatives from each state and a House of Representatives with representatives determined by population
          • Originally the members of the Senate were chosen by State Legislators
      • An executive with loosely defined powers
  • Slavery was another hot issue
    • It was determined that slaves would be counted as 3/5ths of a person when determining representation for a state. This was hence known as the 3/5ths compromise.
  • The Constitution was ratified on September 17th, 1787.
    • Though the document had made it through the rigors of the convention, very few were completely satisfied with the document
  • During the ratification there was a cry for a separate bill of rights
    • Many only agreed to support the ratification of the Constitution if it was agreed that later a bill of rights would be added
thomas jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
  • While the Constitution had passed, Thomas Jefferson argued for a more limited government
    • Jefferson believed that a government power derived from the doctrine of natural rights (John Locke) and that government power should be restricted, especially in the area of protecting the rights of the people (consent of the people)
  • In his pursuit of limited government, Jefferson created and lead a new political party with the name Democratic-Republicans
    • The Democratic-Republicans believed in a more limited role in central government