The Philadelphia Convention
HIST101 – American History to 1877
The Philadelphia Convention, congregated in May 1787, ending on September 17 with the signing of the Constitution, generated a powerful national government with broad powers of taxation, military defense, and authority to make laws. The first Constitution of the United States of America laid down by the Philadelphia Convention was to become the supreme law of the land. After the Revolutionary War, the country was confronted with debts, taxes, tariffs, military weakness and slavery issues. The Government was limited in its capacity to handle debts and expenses: no authority to tax the states and the people and no means to raise money in order to repay the war debts. A revision of the Articles of Confederation was required. Hence a Constitutional Convention was called in Philadelphia in May 1787 and continued through the hot Philadelphia summer for sixteen weeks until September, for the sole purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation. Fifty-five delegates representing 13 states gathered, while Rhode Island refused to send a delegate. The delegates debated in secrecy, behind closed windows and curtains, slowly working out their disagreement by debating how much power should be given to the national government and how should this power be allocated. Rather than revising the Articles of Confederation, they devised a scheme for a powerful national government. Several plans were presented, but two of them stood out. James Madison introduced the so-called Virginia Plan, rejecting state sovereignty and favoring the supremacy of national authority. The national government would not be established by the states, but by the people, and a three-tier election system would be implemented. William Peterson introduced the so-called New Jersey Plan, giving the Confederation the power to raise revenue, and...
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