What were the features of the New Jersey Plan?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The New Jersey Plan was the plan that the smaller states offered as their vision of how the new government of the United States should be structured.  The large states were fairly happy with the Virginia Plan, but the smaller states did not like it and they offered their own plan in response.  The main points of the New Jersey Plan were to give more power to the small states and to reduce the power of the federal government (relative to the proposals of the Virginia Plan).  Some specific provisions of the plan were:

  • The Articles of Confederation should be amended, not discarded.
  • Congress would elect an executive committee to run the federal government.  In other words, there would not be a single president but a committee at the head of the executive branch.
  • Congress would have more powers than it did under the Articles.  For example, it would have greater powers of taxation and it would have had the right to regulate commerce among the states.
  • Most importantly, Congress would continue to be unicameral.  Each state would continue to have an equal vote in Congress.  This was important because it would have allowed the small states to have as much power as the larger states.

Thus, the New Jersey Plan did not want to depart as radically from the Articles of Confederation as the Virginia Plan wanted to.  It did not want to increase the power of the national government as much and it wanted to keep the idea of a confederation of equal states.

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