Explain the proposals and compromises in the creation of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches at the Constitutional Convention.

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The most famous compromises that took place at the Philadelphia Convention involved the legislative branch. Essentially, it was a compromise between two plans for the structure and makeup of Congress.

The first, known as the Virginia Plan, was for a bicameral legislature in which each state would have a number...

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The most famous compromises that took place at the Philadelphia Convention involved the legislative branch. Essentially, it was a compromise between two plans for the structure and makeup of Congress.

The first, known as the Virginia Plan, was for a bicameral legislature in which each state would have a number of representatives that was proportional to its population. In other words, the bigger the state, the more representatives it would have in Congress. Opposing this plan was the New Jersey plan, in which each state, regardless of population, would be represented equally in a unicameral legislature.

The so-called "Great Compromise" between these two positions established Congress as it exists today: a bicameral body in which each state has two representatives in the upper house (the Senate) and representatives based on their populations in the lower house (the House of Representatives.)

The Framers made several crucial compromises in constructing the executive branch as well. Some delegates, most notably Alexander Hamilton, argued for a unitary executive with expansive powers and a lifetime term. Others argued for an executive panel of two presidents, and still others wanted chief executives that would serve for one-year terms. The four-year terms stipulated by the Constitution were therefore a compromise position between those who wanted a weak executive with little authority and power and those who wanted an executive with many of the powers of the English monarch.

The method of election by the Electoral College was also a compromise between the minority of delegates who wanted a popularly-elected President and others who thought the chief executive should be appointed by Congress. The main compromise related to the judiciary had to do with federalism—many feared that the federal judicial branch would usurp the authority and power of the state courts. The Constitution did not specifically comment on this issue, only really empowering Congress to create "inferior courts" as well as establishing a Supreme Court.

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