What were the main sources of conflict present at the Constitutional Convention?  How did the Connecticut Compromise and the Three Fifths Compromise help to diffuse much of the conflict?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my mind, there were conflicts over the issue of representation, slavery, and the notion of what it means to be free.  In terms of the representation debates, the larger states sought to advocate the Virginia Plan, which determined the issue of representation through population.  The smaller states advanced the New Jersey Plan, which suggested an equal number of representation for each state.  The compromise was Sherman's Great Compromise, which established a bicameral legislative branch consisting of one House of Representatives which was driven by population and one Senate which was to be driven by a fixed number for each state.  The issue of slavery was addressed by the delegates through the deeming of the slave population as 3/5 of vote, allowing Southern states to count their slaves towards the population, allowing the North to ensure that slave representation was limited, and ensuring that people of color were seen as less of a person.  It also called for the slave trade to continue to 20 years and then the federal government would control it, ensuring that the framers lacked courage and conviction on the most pressing social issue of the day.  Finally, the debates between federalists and the anti- federalists helped to configure what it means to be free in the new nation.  The former believed that individual freedom meant little, if anything, if the entire structure of government and social order could not ensure domestic security and a sense fo control.  The latter argued against this, in suggesting that one of the primary reasons the Revolution was fought was to ensure personal freedom away from a tyrant- like centralized authority.  To have swapped one repressive element for another is not logical.  Both sides were appeased with the Constitution's strict demand of being the supreme law of the land with the addition of the first ten amendments, driven to guarantee personal security.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The tension between Anti-federalists and Federalists showed up mainly around the issues of representation, division of power, and individual rights.  The Anti-feds were nervous about the possibility that more federal power would lead to a King.  The Federalists were worried that lack of more federal power would make it impossible to conduct the nation's business or protect our borders.

The 3/5th Compromise allowed slave states to count slaves as 3/5 of a person only for purposes of apportioning representatives for the state. The Connecticut Compromise created a bicameral legislature, so that small states with few people could have one house with equal representation, and states like Virginia with large populations could receive a larger number of representatives in one house.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The compromise was not between federalists and anti-federalists so much as it was between big and small states. 

The federalist vs. anti-federalist debate was over how much power the central government should have, but it was played out more in the debate over the ratification of the Constitution, not over any parts of the Constitution (the Constitution is a federalist document).

The Connecticut Compromise came about because the big states wanted Congressional seats to be apportioned based on population while the small states wanted equal representation for each state.

By making one house of Congress reflect each of these desires, the Connecticut Compromise solved the problem.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
There were many sources of conflict at the constitutional convention. One issue was regarding states' rights. Another had to do with representation, or how many votes each state should get and whether to base it on population or equality. Don't forget slavery!
mkcapen1 | Student

The Constitutional Convention was held May 1787.  It consisted of 55 leaders from all states except Rhode Island.  George Washington was chosen to serve as the president of the convention.  The weather was very hot but they had to keep the windows closed so outsiders could not hear the discussion.  When they did open the doors and windows the giant flies and mosquitoes bite the delegates.

The first thing done was to ditch the Articles of Confederation.  The delegates were distrustful of the government having too much power.  One controversy was over the enslavement of Africans.  Twenty five of the delegates were slave owners. 

Another issue was the Bill of Rights.  They had nothing in them which would cover civil liberties.  The agreement of votes was decided to stand as Amendments needed to have 2/3 of the votes of congress in order to pass and then had to be ratified by 3/4 of the state legislators.