Original Purpose

The Constitutional Convention was first called into being to amend or change the Articles of Confederation. When the 55 delegates were sent by 12 of the states’ legislatures the meeting began, and the young men began working on amending the Articles of Confederation. Rhode Island refused to send delegates to the Constitutional Convention because the leaders of Rhode Island were against strengthening the central system of government.

Soon after the 55 delegates began working to amend the Articles of Confederation, they realized that the Articles of Confederation was put together to quickly, and because it was put together so quickly there were many problems. One of the many problems was that the Articles of Confederation worked well in times of peace, but not so well in times of war. The delegates agreed that instead of amending the Articles of Confederation they were going to create a new constitution.

The document that the Constitutional Convention wrote became known as the Constitution. After writing the document, the members of the Constitutional Convention were still unsure if the states would approve of the new constitution. The Constitutional Convention had completed the easy part of writing a new constitution, but getting nine of the thirteen to ratify the new Constitution was another story.

After adding the Bill of Rights to the new Constitution, the Constitutional Convention finally got nine of the thirteen states to ratify the document. While writing the constitution the Constitutional Convention faced many difficulties, these difficulties lead to many compromises.
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It all started on August 29, 1786. The small farmers were in debt, and on top of that the taxes were higher than normal. The farmers that were in the war as soldiers weren’t paid with gold, but with paper money and they had no money to keep the farm, because the paper money was worthless. Most of them had their land taken away by the state or had gone to prison for not paying and putting up a fight with the government. When Daniel Shay heard about this he wanted to do something. Shay was a former American caption, who was the head leader of the rebellion. In court he argued that the taxes should be lower and that the men should be paid in gold not with paper money. In Massachusetts they order that the farmers give up their land and livestock to the government to pay off the debt. Then Shay and his men took action. First they closed courthouse to stop the government from making laws against them. Second they marched to the national arsenal at Spring Field to get weapons. The Continental Army couldn’t stop them from taking the weapons, but the militia did try to get order, because they tried to get order a riot broke out. The government called a meeting to change the constitution, because of what happened in Massachusetts.

Shay got away from being executed by running away to the southern states. The farmers had to face jail time and for the one who were in jail already just had face up to their time.

The Beginning: Citizen Rights

The Constitutional Convention discussed how the nation would be governed. At first, the delegates argued amongst themselves. Questions on the rights of U.S. citizens were brought up and greatly discussed. Here are some of the questions that were asked and eventually answered.
· How would the amount of representatives per state be determined?
· Would the slaves of the colonies be counted for taxation or representation?
· Who would control commerce between the states and foreign countries, the states or the government?
These questions asked by the delegates lead to many compromises.

Constitutional Convention: Compromises

Great Compromise

At the Constitutional Convention, there were many compromises created to help solve problems that had developed. There was one specific one that was called the “Great Compromise.” The first compromise had to do with the amount of representatives each state would have for the Congress. This was a major ordeal to the states.

Smaller states wanted all the states to have an equal amount of representatives because they felt it was fair that they should be able to have a say in government despite their size. This plan was called the New Jersey Plan. The larger states wanted to have a Congress where the amount of representatives was based on the population of the state. They felt they should get a larger say in government because of their immense population, comparing to the smaller states. This plan was called the Virginia Plan.
The solution was this: there would be two houses in the Congress. One would be called the Senate, and would be based on the New Jersey Plan, and meant that each state would have two senators. The other would be called the House of Representatives, and would be based on The Virginia Plan.

They then made a compromise. They decided that there would be two houses, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. The House of Representatives is probably liked more by the bigger states because it is based on population. The Senate is then based on the same number of Representatives for each state, and that would be two people.

The Second Compromise: Slaves as taxation or representation? The opinion of the states

The second major compromise had to be made: How would slaves be counted: for taxation, representation, or both? The Northern states which had fewer slaves wanted all slaves to be counted for taxation, because they wanted the Southern states to have to pay taxes for the incredible amount of slaves they owned. It didn’t seem fair that the Southern states should have the advantage of increasing their amount of representatives, while the Northern states had no advantage of this. They had no use for the excessive amounts of slaves. But on the other hand, the Southern states wanted the slaves they owned to be counted for representation so they could increase their amount of representatives, but did not want to pay taxes on them. This compromise was titled The Three Fifths Compromise. This stated that 3/5 of the slaves would be counted for representation, and 3/5 would be counted for taxation.

Other Compromises

Another compromise made by the Constitutional Convention concerned the counting of the people to adjust the amount of representatives in the House of Representatives. The solution to this problem was the suggestion of a census, which would take place after three years preceding the first meeting of the new Congress. The census would take place once every ten years. The census would determine the number of representatives that each state would have in the House of Representatives.

A compromise was also made which concerned the trade between the states and foreign countries, and whether Congress could have the ability to control it. The people of the states were afraid that Congress would attempt to halt the slave importation from Africa. The solution to this commerce issue was that Congress would control trade between states and foreign countries, but would not have the ability to stop slave commerce between states for at least 20 years.

Other commerce issues included whether taxes should be placed on items from foreign countries or not. Northern states were more prosperous in manufacturing goods: and this would protect them for taxes on foreign imports on the same items. It was decided that there would be no taxes on any goods exported from the states.

The electing of the president was another minor problem. The solution was that the state legislative group would select a number of electors to elect the president. There would be an amount of these electors equal to the amount of senators and representatives per state in the Senate and the House of Representatives because the Congress did not trust the average citizen to have a logical reason for their vote.