The United States Constitution is often referred to as “a bundle of compromises” because it was the result of a series of negotiations between the founding fathers that addressed a number of controversial issues. Among the most contentious topics was the issue of slavery, which eventually led to the Civil War.
Other significant compromises included the creation of a bicameral legislature and the establishment of a system of checks and balances between the different branches of government. While some have criticized the Constitution as being too flawed to be effective, it has nonetheless served as the supreme law of the land for over two centuries.
On May 25, 1787, a committee of fifty-five delegates from twelve states convened in Philadelphia to rewrite the Articles of Confederation. Instead, they voted to scrap the Articles and create a new Constitution that incorporated “a collection of compromises.” Whatever personal goals these leaders had, they had to compromise and accept what was acceptable to the majority of the country as well as what would be good for the nation as a whole. Many compromises were made at the Constitutional Convention, including representation, slavery, and commercial law.
The Three-Fifths Compromise was one of the first compromises made during the Constitutional Convention. It stated that for every five slaves a state had, that state would get three representatives in Congress. This was a controversial issue because the Southern states wanted their slaves to be counted as citizens, while the Northern states wanted them to be counted as property. The Compromise allowed both sides to somewhat get what they wanted.
The next big issue was slavery. At the time, there were around four million slaves in America. The delegates from the Southern states did not want these slaves to be counted when determining a state’s population (and therefore its number of representatives in Congress), but they also did not want slavery to be abolished.
The Northern states, on the other hand, wanted slaves to be counted when determining a state’s population but also wanted slavery to eventually be abolished. The delegates from the Northern states agreed not to count slaves when determining a state’s population if the Southern states agreed to abolish slavery gradually. This was known as the Great Compromise, and it was a key factor in getting the Constitution ratified.
Another important issue was foreign and interstate commerce. The Northern states wanted Congress to have the power to regulate both foreign and interstate commerce, while the Southern states wanted each state to have its own power to regulate commerce. The delegates from the Northern states agreed not to give Congress power over interstate commerce if the Southern states agreed not to give each state its own power to regulate foreign commerce. This was known as the Commerce Compromise.
All of these compromises were necessary in order to get the Constitution ratified. Without them, the Constitution would not have been approved by all thirteen states, and America would not be the country it is today.
The “Great Compromise” was the most crucial compromise. Delegates were concerned about how their state would be represented in a newly independent nation. The “large-state plan” was promoted by Edmund Randolph, representing the state of Virginia. William Paterson, an delegate from New Jersey, opposed Randolph’s proposal because he feared that the larger states would combine and ignore the smaller, less populous states.
Paterson proposed the “small-state plan,” in which each state regardless of size would get equal representation. A delegate from Connecticut, Roger Sherman, proposed a solution that became known as the “Great Compromise.” The House of Representatives would have proportional representation while the Senate would have equal representation.
The issue of slavery was also addressed in the Constitution. The Founding Fathers had to find a way to count slaves for purposes of taxation and regulating commerce while at the same time not giving them full personhood status, which would mean granting them all the rights and protections under the law that white citizens enjoyed. The solution they came up with was the “Three-Fifths Compromise.” This stated that for every five slaves a state had, that state would get three votes in the House of Representatives.
As a result, the “small-state plan” was proposed, in which each state received an equal number of representatives. After much debate, the Constitutional Confederation determined that the Congress would have two chambers: the House of Representatives (where representation was based on population) and the Senate (with each state receiving two representatives). Virginia accepted this agreement when it was assured that all tax bills and revenue measurements would begin in the House of Representatives, where population had more weight.
This was the Great Compromise. The next issue was slavery. The Northern states wanted slaves counted as part of the population (for representation in the House) but not as part of the voting population (for tax bills and revenue measurements). The Southern states wanted slaves to be counted as part of both the population and the voting population. This disagreement led to the Three-Fifths Compromise, which stated that for representation in the House of Representatives and for tax bills and revenue measurements, each slave would be counted as three-fifths of a person.
Finally, there was the issue of how to elect the president. The Northern states wanted Congress to elect the president, while the Southern states wanted state legislatures to elect the president. The solution was the Electoral College, where each state would have a certain number of electors based on its population. These electors would then cast votes for president, and the person with the most votes would become president.
So, the Constitution is called “a bundle of compromises” because it is full of compromises between the states on various issues. These compromises were necessary in order to get all the states to ratify the Constitution and form the United States of America.
The second compromise was for a strong, independent executive branch with a president who could veto legislation and be military commander-in-chief. Rather of being elected directly by the people, this president would be chosen through the Electoral College. Anti-federalists were concerned that the executive branch lacked enough checks and balances and might become tyrannical.
The third compromise was the creation of a bicameral legislature, or a legislature with two chambers. The first chamber would be the House of Representatives, where each state would be represented based on population. The second chamber would be the Senate, where each state would have two representatives regardless of population. This compromise gave smaller states some representation in government, while still allowing for representation based on population in the House of Representatives.
The fourth compromise was the issue of slavery. Slavery was a contentious issue between northern and southern states, with southern states wanting to keep slavery legal and northern states wanting to abolish it. The final compromise was that slavery would be legal in the southern states, but would be gradually phased out in the northern states. This compromise kept the southern states happy, while still giving the northern states some measure of control over the issue.
The fifth and final compromise was the creation of a system of checks and balances between the different branches of government. This system would ensure that no one branch could become too powerful and take over the government. It would also help to prevent any one person from becoming too powerful and taking over the government.
So, why is our constitution called “a bundle of compromises?” Because it is a document that was created through compromise between different groups with different interests. These compromises allowed for a stronger central government while still protecting the rights of individual states and citizens.