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By 1787, the debts of the War of Independence were piling up and many states had defaulted on paying what they owed. States imposed tariffs on themselves and fought for borders. Britain was furious because pre-war debts were not being paid and refused to abide by the treaty that had ended the war (the Treaty of Paris of 1783). Recognizing that things were not going well, Congress declared on February 21, 1787, „that there were gaps in the present Confederation“ and decided that a convention should be held in Philadelphia „for the sole and express purpose of revising the articles of confederation. and to make the Federal Constitution adapted to the requirements of the government and the preservation of the Union. The committee`s final report, which became the first draft of the Constitution, was the first feasible constitutional plan, as Madison`s plan for Virginia was merely a blueprint of goals and a broad structure. Even after the release of this report, the committee met until early September. The first thing the Convention did was to elect a President who unanimously elected George Washington as President of the Convention. [25] [Page needed] The Convention then adopted rules of procedure. Each State delegation received a single vote, for or against a proposal in accordance with the majority opinion of the State delegates. [26] This rule has increased the power of small states.

[27] The scope of the resolutions, which goes far beyond tinkering with federal articles, has succeeded in extending the debate to fundamental revisions of the structure and powers of the national government. The resolutions proposed, for example, a new form of national government with three branches: legislative, executive and judicial. A contentious issue facing the Convention was how large and small States would be represented in the Legislative Assembly. The dispute was whether there would be equal representation for each State, regardless of its size and population, or proportional to population, which would give large States more votes than less populous States. After waging a war against tyranny, Americans distrusted the executive branch. The Convention had at least 60 votes before delegates agreed on the Electoral College as a method of electing the President. Few people realized at the time how important the issue would become, with the absence of a bill of rights becoming the main anti-federalist argument against ratification. Most delegates to the Convention were of the view that States were already protecting the rights of the individual and that the Constitution did not empower the national government to withdraw rights, so there was no need to include the protection of rights. After the Convention had crossed this point, delegates raised some last-minute issues. It is important to note that they changed the wording that required spending bills to come from the House of Representatives and be accepted or rejected outright by the Senate. The new wording authorized the Senate to amend spending bills proposed by the House of Representatives. [123]:243 The Standing Orders allowed delegates to request a reconsideration of any decision that had already been voted on.

This allowed delegates to hold straw votes to gauge the strength of controversial proposals and change their minds as they worked towards consensus. [28] It was also agreed that discussions and votes would be kept secret until the end of the meeting. [29] Despite the sweltering summer heat, the conference room windows were closed to keep the deliberations secret from the public. [30] Although William Jackson was elected secretary, his notes were short and contained very little detail. Madison`s Notes of Debates to the Federal Convention of 1787, supplemented by Robert Yates` notes, remain the most comprehensive document of the Convention. [31] Because of the commitment to secrecy, Madison`s report was not published until after his death in 1836. [32] However, the issue of representation threatened to destroy the seven-week-old convention. Delegates from large states felt that since their states contributed proportionately more to the nation`s financial and defensive resources, they should enjoy proportionally greater representation in the Senate and House of Representatives. Delegates from small States demanded with comparable intensity that all States be equally represented in both chambers. When Sherman proposed the compromise, Benjamin Franklin agreed that all states should have an equal voice in the Senate on all matters except those involving money. Although neither the word „slave“ nor „slavery“ is mentioned anywhere in the body of the Constitution, the dispute over slavery has permeated the debates of the Convention.

It was impossible to discuss issues related to the division of representation without facing the fact that the slave population of the South – whether conceived as a resident or a property – would influence the calculations of representation. Delegates argued over the correct formula of how slaves should be „counted“ for much of the summer. The final solution to this question – the three-fifths compromise, a formula according to which slaves would be counted as three-fifths of a person in the division of representation and taxation – was a purely mechanical and amoral calculation aimed at establishing harmony between conflicting interests within the convention. .