What were the major compromises that were worked out at the Constitutional Convention?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A couple of looming issues presented itself at the Constitutional Convention.  The most pressing was the issue of representation between small and large states.  The former was afraid that their voices would not be heard because of the demands of the more populous states being heard at the cost of the smaller ones.  For their part, the smaller states believed that representation should consist of a fixed number of representatives that are the same for all states.  The Great Compromise to this problem, proposed by Roger Sherman, was that there would be a bicameral legislative branch that would consist of a House of Representatives that would have population determine representation.  At the same time, an Upper House would be created which would be the Senate, where each state was allotted the same number of representation.  Another conflict at the Convention appeared in the issue of slavery, in terms of whether or not the new nation should outlaw it or continue it.  The proposition was luke warm, in that it sought to defer the decision of it for future generations.  Finally, the issue of how to deal with the issue of individual rights presented itself in the debate between the Federalists, who were proponents of a strong central government, and the Anti-Federalists, who advocated for a strong state government.  The resolution to this was the adoption of a Constitution that included a Bill of Rights, or entitlements that could not be trampled upon by the government.

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