Adoption of the Constitution

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1. Describe the main debates that occurred in the adoption of the Constitution. Include the Federalist/Anti-Federalist positions, the Bill of Rights, compromises, and mechanisms designed to avoid tyranny. The Virginia Plan proposed the creation of a two-house legislature with a state’s population determining its representation in each. The New Jersey Plan called for a single-house Congress in which each state cast one vote. In the end, a compromise was reached—a two-house Congress consisting of a Senate in which each state had two members, and a House of Representatives apportioned according to population. The Constitution embodies two basic political principles—federalism, also called the “division of powers,” and the system of “checks and balances” between the different branches of the national government, also known as the “separation of powers.” The powers were separated into three equal branches, and no group could control over one another. The Constitution would protect the Americans' liberties rather than posing a danger to it. With its checks and balances and division of power, the Constitution made political tyranny almost impossible. Slavery divided the delegates. The words "slave" and "slavery" did not appear in the constitution. South Carolina’s delegates defended slavery, and they had a powerful impact on the final document. The Constitution prevented Congress from prohibiting the slave trade until 1808. The fugitive slave clause made clear that the condition of bondage remained attached to a person even if he or she escaped to a free area, and it required all states to help police the institution of slavery. The federal government could not interfere with slavery in the states. Slave states had more power due to the three-fifths clause. In order for the Constitution to come into effect, nine states were required to ratify. Federalists supported the ratification while Anti-Federalists opposed the ratification. They argued that the republic had to be...
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