What is CONNECTICUT COMPROMISE? What does CONNECTICUT COMPROMISE mean? CONNECTICUT COMPROMISE meaning - CONNECTICUT COMPROMISE definition - CONNECTICUT COMPROMISE explanation.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
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The Connecticut Compromise (also known as the Great Compromise of 1787 or The Sherman Compromise) was an agreement that large and small states reached during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that in part defined the legislative structure and representation that each state would have under the United States Constitution. It retained the bicameral legislature as proposed by Roger Sherman, along with proportional representation in the lower house, but required the upper house to be weighted equally between the states. Each state would have two representatives in the upper house.
On May 29, 1787, Edmund Randolph of the Virginia delegation proposed the creation of a bicameral legislature. Under his proposal, membership in both houses would be allocated to each state proportional to its population; however, candidates for the lower house would be nominated and elected by the people of each state. This proposal allowed fairness and equality to the people. Candidates for the upper house would be nominated by the state legislatures of each state and then elected by the members of the lower house. This proposal was known as the Virginia Plan.
Less populous states like Delaware were afraid that such an arrangement would result in their voices and interests being drowned out by the larger states. Many delegates also felt that the Convention did not have the authority to completely scrap the Articles of Confederation, as the Virginia Plan would have. In response, on June 15, 1787, William Paterson of the New Jersey delegation proposed a legislature consisting of a single house. Each state was to have equal representation in this body, regardless of population. The New Jersey Plan, as it was called, would have left the Articles of Confederation in place, but would have amended them to somewhat increase Congress's powers.
At the time of the convention, the South was growing more quickly than the North, and Southern states had the most extensive Western claims. South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia were small in the 1780s, but they expected growth, and thus favored proportional representation. New York was one of the largest states at the time, but two of its three representatives (Alexander Hamilton being the exception) supported an equal representation per state, as part of their desire to see maximum autonomy for the states. (The two representatives other than Hamilton had left the convention before the representation issue was resolved, leaving Hamilton, and New York state, without a vote.)
James Madison and Hamilton were two of the leaders of the proportional representation group. Madison argued that a conspiracy of large states against the small states was unrealistic as the large states were so different from each other. Hamilton argued that the states were artificial entities made up of individuals, and accused small state representatives of wanting power, not liberty (see History of the United States Senate).
For their part, the small state representatives argued that the states were, in fact, of a legally equal status, and that proportional representation would be unfair to their states. Gunning Bedford, Jr. of Delaware notoriously threatened on behalf of the small states, "the small ones w find some foreign ally of more honor and good faith, who will take them by the hand and do them justice."
Elbridge Gerry ridiculed the small states’ claim of sovereignty, saying “that we never were independent States, were not such now, & never could be even on the principles of the Confederation. The States & the advocates for them were intoxicated with the idea of their sovereignty.”