Who proposed the Virginia Plan?
The Virginia Plan was sponsored and proposed to the Constitutional Convention by Edmund J. Randolph on May 28, 1787. Edmund Jennings Randolph (1753 – 1813) was a lawyer and the Governor of Virginia who introduced and defended the Virginia Plan to the Convention's delegates. The 15 resolutions of the Virginia Plan immediately broadened the debate from revising the Articles of Confederation to including what form the structure and power of the national government would take. Under President George Washington, Edmund Randolph would become the first Attorney General of the United States.
Who wrote the Virginia Plan?
The first delegates to arrive at the Constitutional Convention were the delegates from Virginia that included James Madison (1751-1836). The enthusiastic James Madison drafted the Virginia Plan whist waiting for the conference to begin, he was the youngest delegate to attend the Constitutional Convention. The Virginia Plan was the first document to suggest a separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. James Madison was a political theorist, a planter and a politician who would one day become the 4th president of the United States. The work of Montesquieu (1689-1755) had a powerful influence over James Madison. Montesquieu was a French political theorist and a champion of liberty who was famous for his verbalization of the theory of separation of powers.
What did the Virginia Plan Propose?
The Virginia Plan proposed fifteen resolutions that basically included the following:
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|Resolution 1: ||The articles of the confederation ought to be corrected and enlarged|
|Resolution 2: ||The right vote in the national legislature, ought to be proportioned to the share of contribution, or to the number of free inhabitants|
|Resolution 3: ||The national legislature ought to consist of two branches (bicameral)|
|Resolution 4: ||The people of each State should elect the First Branch of the National Legislature.|
|Resolution 5: ||The Second Branch of the National Legislature should be elected by the first|
|Resolution 6: ||The national legislature shall have power "to legislate in all cases to which the separate States are incompetent" and to void any state laws that contravene the [Constitution]|
|Resolution 7: ||The National Legislature shall elect a National Executive with the authority to execute the national laws and taxes|
|Resolution 8: ||A Council of Revision should be formed by the Executive and members of the judiciary with the authority to examine, and reject, every act of the national legislature|
|Resolution 9: ||A national judiciary should be established consisting of one or more supreme tribunals and inferior tribunals. Judges will be appointed for life|
|Resolution 10: ||Provision should be made for admission of States to the union|
|Resolution 11: ||The territory and government of each state ought to be guaranteed by the United States|
|Resolution 12: ||Provision should be made for Congress to continue until the new articles of union are adopted|
|Resolution 13: ||Provision should be made for amendments of the articles of union|
|Resolution 14: ||State Legislatures, Executives, and the judiciary should be bound by oath to support the Articles of Union|
|Resolution 15: ||The new plan for government should be ratified (approved) by the people, through assemblies of representatives chosen by the people|
Who Supported the Virginia Plan?
The Virginia Plan was supported by the larger states because of the resolution for proportional representation. This meant that the more people a state has, the more representatives it gets in the legislature.
Who Opposed the Virginia Plan?
The smaller states opposed the Virginia Plan because the resolution for proportional representation would mean that smaller states would have less say in government than the larger states. If the Virginia Plan was agreed each state would have a different number of representatives based on the state's population. The small states therefore proposed the New Jersey Plan.
The Significance of the Virginia Plan
The Significance of the Virginia Plan was:
The Virginia Plan played an important role in setting the overall agenda for the convention
The Virginia Plan called for a strong national government
The Virginia Plan was the first document to suggest a separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches
The Virginia Plan called for a bicameral legislature settling some of the disputes between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists
The Virginia Plan prompted different proposals by the small states in the New Jersey Plan which led to the Great Compromise
Many elements of the Virginia Plan were adopted by the Convention and written into the Constitution