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 Edmond Randolph and William Paterson were in a warm, mucky church on the warmest day in July.  The year was 1787. They were there to debate about the Virginia and the New Jersey Plan they were going to try to come up with a compromise.  Neither of them thought that it would be this hard.


"I think that if a state has more population then they should have more of a voice.  Why should a state with a little population have the same say as a state with a huge population?" said Edmond Randolph. 


   "I think that each state should have the same say no matter if they have a big population or not.  Well the big states have a lot of slaves and they are treated as property not human beings so they should not count as a human being. said William Paterson.  


    Africans have rights... and might be given their freedom... someday.  But, they are still humans. Replied Edmond Randolph.


     "House of Representatives should elect the Senate too.  Do you agree with this, the Executive Branch should enforce the laws, the Judicial Branch should interpret the laws, and the Legislative Branch should make the laws? said Edmond Randolph. 


    William Paterson replies yes, I agree with that.  


    Okay, do you agree with this too, the Legislative Branch should be based on population, the Senate should have two people from each state, and there should be three branch of government? Asked Edmond Randolph. 


     "Even though that plan is okay, I still think that the Virginia Plan is better."  said Edmond Randolph. 


Sure, I agree with that, says William Paterson.

"Well, I... I...I think your plan is... dumb and stupid and does not make sense."  Said Edmond Randolph in a very angry voice.


     "My plan makes just as much sense as yours does."  In fact it makes more sense than yours does," replied William Paterson.  

William Sherman, a patriot from Connecticut enters the room and immediately gets between the heated debate between William Patterson and Edmund Randolph.  Things were getting very loud, and several delegates were looking on with dismay as it seemed the men would come to blows.

Hey guys, it seems like you both are getting a little hot under the collar.  Take a minute to go for a walk and cool off, then we can talk about things.

Ok,  are you guys ready to listen, because you've done enough talking.  Here's what I've been thinking about.  Both of you have some good ideas and some bad ones.  I think that to make our new country strong, since the Articles of Confederation were so LAME, that we need to get this right.  This is our second chance, and we can't mess it up.

William Patterson from New Jersey, I really like your idea of having each state with an equal number of representatives.  That seems fair to everyone, and isn't our country founded on equality?  If each state has the same number of votes then the smaller states will not feel slighted. 

Oh, I know what you are going to say Edmund Randolph, "This isn't fair because we have more people."  I hear you and also think that is the right thing to do by having population as the basis for representation.  It would not be fair to have more people affected by laws without them having a fair share of "voice" in making the laws.

So, let's do this, create TWO PARTS for our legislature, one part called the Senate would give each state equal representation.  This would make smaller states happy, while adding a House of Represntatives with it's membership based on population would be fair to the bigger states.

"What do you guys think?"  "Well...." said Edmund Randolph.  "I still think that..." interrupted William Patterson.

Nine days later after long debating it was put to a vote, and the good news spread as it passed five votes to four votes.

The bicameral (two parts) legislature was passed, and the basis for calculating population was decided that a census of the nation's population would be given every 10 years to account for changes.  The last issue that was on the table as a sticking point was how to count enslaved African Americans as citizens.  The South threatened to seced if they didn't get to count slaves as citizens.  The Northern states knew this was a critical issue, but decided that creating a nation was more important than getting their way on the issue, and thus a compromise of counting each slave as 3/5 a person for population was struck.  Slave trade would be ended by 1808, but many, many issues regarding slavery were not addressed at that time.

Article posted April 28, 2009 at 07:34 AM • comment • Reads 99 • see all articles

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