• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Why is the American Constitution called the Great Compromise?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

´╗┐Why is the American Constitution called the ?Great Compromise?? On May 14th 1787, 55 state delegates began to arrive in Pennsylvania, each with very different ideas about how the governing of their nation should function. The delegates came from different cultural state backgrounds, and the one concept that had genuinely united them ? their opposition to the tyrannical rule of George III, had now disintegrated. Added to the natural dualism of the delegate ideas taken to the Convention, the delegates were under substantial pressure to efficiently deliver a blueprint for how their country was to run, because of the economic and social problems that had plagued the ?United? States in the aftermath of the War of Independence. There were various issues to be discussed and debated at the Convention, each with their proponents and detractors. The inevitable conflicts that occurred between delegates over the issues of representation, slavery, the role and power of the federal government, the extent of its regulation of commerce and the composition and power of the executive, combined with the way in which the convention was under pressure to deliver in order to put an end to the nation?s socio-economic problems, meant that degrees of ?compromise? between delegates were unavoidable in the eventual outcome. The most contentious disputes revolved around the composition and election of the legislature, and how "proportional representation" was to be defined in an American context. ...read more.

Middle

With reference to the issue of slavery, again there is evidence of a compromise taking place between delegates. Twenty-five of the Convention's 55 delegates owned slaves, including all of the delegates from Virginia and South Carolina. Slaves comprised approximately one-fifth of the population of the states and apart from northernmost New England, where slavery had largely been eliminated, slaves lived throughout all regions of the country. The majority of the slaves (more than 90%), lived in the South, where approximately 1 in 3 families were slave owners (in the largest and wealthiest state, Virginia, that figure was nearly 1 in 2 families). Slaves themselves were considered not people, but property and so the main question here was whether or not slaves should count as people in terms of representation. The (mainly southern) ?Slave states? like South Carolina and Georgia had economies which relied almost solely on the slave trade and the industry and commerce it was connected to, and in addition, the entire agrarian economy of the South was based on slave labour, and so the Southern delegates to the Convention were unwilling to accept any proposals that they believed would threaten the institution, and so would not tolerate an anti-slavery sentiment in the constitution. States like these wanted slaves to count fully as members of the population, so that the slave states would receive more representation in the federal government. ...read more.

Conclusion

Hamilton felt that the separate colonies had been weak and divided and so the union needed a strong and effectively centralised national government with substantial powers to protect the people?s liberty. The contentiousness of the debate surrounding the issue of the powers of the federal government, combined with the way in which the convention was under pressure to deliver a constitution quickly meant that the Founding Fathers realised that the issue could not be completely solved at this time. This led to the formation of the ?Elastic Clause? in the Constitution which stated that the Federal government had ability to ?make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper? in order to govern. To conclude, the American Constitution, ratified in 1787 was clearly a compromise. The delegates themselves found it hard to agree on most issues, and eventual resolutions of these issues involved a blend of the ideas of both sides. For example Congress is a mix of the ?Big? and ?Small? state ideas ? (it is a bi-cameral legislature). Fundamentally, the fact that the convention was under pressure to deliver a constitution, due to the continent?s socio-economic problems the previous year, ensured that the delegates were prepared to compromise on the issues in hope of creating further resolutions in the future. This is clear from the fact that, within two years of the convention, there were 10 amendments to the constitution passed which became the ?Bill of Rights?. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level History of the USA, 1840-1968 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level History of the USA, 1840-1968 essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Use sources A, B and C and your own knowledge. How far was ...

    4 star(s)

    like they were being treated wrongly and wanted more freedom as a country. Moreover, source A also suggests that if the British were more willing to compromise with the American colonists then they would have remained free to face the French threat and therefore this is suggesting that the British

  2. Missouri Compromise 1820.

    The Missouri Compromise made the divide between the North and the South more evident that it had ever been. This compromised, proposed by Henry Clay, declared that Missouri would enter the union as a slave state, but every other

  1. Free essay

    JFK assassination - different theories and the evidence.

    Engulfed within the elaborate puzzle of the JFK assassination, the Zapruder film stems into the obscure marvel in the alterations of the JFK assassination footage. This film is a silent, colour motion picture sequence shot with a home movie camera, according to the official account, a lone gunman, conveyed as

  2. US History. How would you characterize the positions of the North at the time ...

    One of the things they did was help establish a colony in Liberia were slaves can be sent instead of living in America (Norton 278B). Examples of gradualists were Thomas Jefferson, The American Colonization Society, and other slaveholders. The other type was immediatists who demanded an immediate ban to slavery.

  1. Slavery.The slave trade between Africa and America was called the triangular trade because it ...

    They washed clothes prepared food and done the cleaning as part of their domestic chores. Other women had more specialized laws such as a dressmaker, cook or nurse. Women stood as symbols for the American men, the powerful African men kept the female the slaves as wives.

  2. What was the 1850 Compromise and Why did it Fail?

    leader of the negotiation, and having separated out the conciliation into a five-part compromise was able to pass it. This as A. Farmer believed was an 'ingenious strategy', that merely played on what the Northern and Southern people wanted, considering that Southerners voted for those proposals they liked; and vice

  1. It is hard to pinpoint the exact beginnings of slavery in the United States. ...

    Life of a Slave "It was work hard, git beatins and half fed ... The times I hated most was pickin' cotton when the frost was on the bolls. My hands git sore and crack open and bleed." Mary Reynolds, Slave Narrative from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938 There were

  2. Explain the principle events of the preceding ten years or so that led the ...

    Cotton owners were making big profits, with the huge demand for cotton, and they did not have to pay the black slaves who were doing most of the labour for them. However, the northern States of America did not want slavery to expand westward.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work