What is the Great Compromise?

Luther Martin
Luther Martin, American lawyer who served as attorney general of Maryland, left the Constitutional Convention in order to avoid signing it. He later defended Aaron Burr in his Virginia treason trial. Hulton Archive / Stringer/ Archive Photos/ Getty Images

Question: What is the Great Compromise?

Answer: Two plans were put forth during the Constitutional Convention to create the new branches of government. The Virginia Plan wanted a strong national government with three branches. The legislature would have two houses. One would be directly elected by the people and the second would selected by the first house from people nominated by the state legislatures. Further, the president and national judiciary would be chosen by the national legislature. On the other hand, the New Jersey Plan wanted a more decentralized plan amending the old Articles yet allowing for a somewhat stronger government. Each state would have one vote in Congress.

The Great Compromise combined these two plans creating our current legislature with two houses, one based on population and elected by the people and the other house allowing two senators per state being appointed by state legislatures.

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