Constitution Essay, Research Paper
The ConstitutionThe new governments in the colonies struggled to live with a strong British government inflicting its powers on them. They now found it equally as hard to get along without this government overseeing them. In order to create a new form of government there were many issues that needed to be addressed and many compromises that needed to be made in order to prevent this new government from becoming an American tyranny. This would not be an easy task. There were many reasons to fear a new government with a great deal of power. Especially one where the center of operations was so far away from your personal residence. The tremendous fear of this was for a very good reason. After the colonists recent experience with King George III still fresh in their minds it was difficult to accept the idea. There were vast discrepancies between the individual colonies. No two were alike. The Constitution is best described as a bundle of compromises. This statement is very true because all of the delegates at the Philadelphia Convention listened to what the other delegates had to say and they were all willing to accept the fact that if they were indeed going to form a new government that it would be absolutely necessary to cooperate and be willing to make compromises. They understood that there was no way for everyone to get everything they wanted. The first major, and perhaps most important, issue they addressed was the theme of representation. Naturally, the large states wanted representation to be based on population. James Madison helped create a very interesting resolution to the problem. He came up with the Virginia Plan . This plan stated that there would be two houses of Congress and in both, representation would be based on population. This was, of course, an unacceptable plan to the smaller states. After the creation of many other plans, the Connecticut Compromise was developed. This was a plan that everyone found more acceptable. This very simple plan stated that the Congress would be split into two houses, with the representation in one being determined by population, and the other house s representation was equal regardless of the size of the state.
There were also several other major compromises made. Two of these centered around the issues of slavery and control of business. The compromise made regarding slavery is known as the three-fifths compromise. The southern states wanted slaves to be counted as part of the population for the purpose of representation. However, it was argued, that since slaves were treated as property that they should not count for the purpose of representation. This issue was easily resolved when slavery and taxation were associated. If slaves were counted for representative purposes then slaves would also be taxed. The three-fifths compromise said that three-fifths of the total number of slaves counted for both taxing and representation purposes. In addition to these disputes, the northern states wanted to eliminate slavery. They also thought that government should regulate business and trade. However, the South was afraid that export taxes might be placed on their crops. Compromises were also made regarding these areas. Compromises were also made regarding the manner in which the government functioned, since some people wanted the new government to be national and others wanted the new government to be federal. So in order to satisfy everyone, the new government was given the power to tax, to regulate business, to declare war, to conduct foreign affairs, and to organize an army and a navy. These were the powers that a national union had. The Constitution also gave states the power to create laws that would control daily life and all other powers not given exclusively to the new central government. These are qualities of a federal union. Many compromises were made to form this new government for this new nation. The delegates at the Convention were obviously successful because we still operate our government in the same fashion today. It was very wise to make compromises in order to create a new government that everyone was happy with. The spirit of compromise was the only reason that the Constitution and the new government were so successful.