The Constitutional Convention

Start Free Trial

What were the advantages of the New Jersey Plan?

Advantages to the New Jersey Plan included giving smaller states equal power to larger states in the federal legislature, as well as giving the federal government more power to raise taxes, to regulate commerce, and to control foreign policy.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The New Jersey Plan can be seen as an attempt to protect the interests of the smaller states, who feared that they would lose out under the proposed Constitution. In particular, they worried that they would end up being outvoted by the larger, more populous states. Hence the proposal of...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

The New Jersey Plan can be seen as an attempt to protect the interests of the smaller states, who feared that they would lose out under the proposed Constitution. In particular, they worried that they would end up being outvoted by the larger, more populous states. Hence the proposal of William Paterson, the leader of New Jersey's delegation to the Constitutional Convention, to restrict each state to just a single vote in Congress.

The main advantage of the New Jersey Plan was that it maintained the spirit of republican government established in the Articles of Confederation while altering its form. There was a general consensus among the delegates at Philadelphia that the Articles needed to be changed, but many were anxious to retain the strong republican principles on which the Articles had been based.

The New Jersey Plan, with its overriding concern to protect the interests of smaller states, arguably did just that. However, the Plan ultimately died because it didn't provide a road map to how a strong federal government might be established. Had the New Jersey Plan been implemented, it's almost certain that the existing problems with the American system of government would have remained intact.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When delegates from the states arrived in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation, they soon realized that they would have to write a whole new document, which would become the US Constitution. This meant that a range of new ideas could be considered going forward. One idea, put forward by William Paterson of New Jersey, recommended that each state send one representative, with one vote, to Congress.

The advantage to this plan, called the New Jersey Plan, was that states with smaller populations would have legislative power equal to the larger states. Another advantage, which would have strengthened the federal government, was that the plan invested more power in the federal government to tax citizens. The New Jersey plan also granted the federal government greater power to control foreign policy and to regulate interstate commerce.

While it vested more power in the central government and aimed to help smaller states have a stronger voice in determining affairs in the country, the New Jersey Plan was ultimately too weak and too close to the Articles of Confederation to be adopted. Despite its positive features, it did not solve the problem of centralizing more power in Washington while protecting states' rights. However, a version of the plan that made it into the Constitution limited each state, no matter how large, to only two senators.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The New Jersey Plan was first introduced in 1787 during the Constitutional Convention. This plan is sometimes referred to as the Small State Plan or the Paterson Plan. This plan was introduced as a response to the Virginia Plan.

The New Jersey Plan suggested having one legislature with one vote per state, while the Virginia Plan suggested having two houses of Congress where officials would be elected based on the population of the state.

Like most things, the New Jersey Plan had both advantages and disadvantages. The main advantage of this plan is that it would have benefited the smaller states in the union. By allowing each state to have one vote rather than basing it on population, each state would have equal power. Another advantage of this plan was that it enforced the idea that people from any state could be prosecuted under state law because the states would have more power. Some would argue that this plan would make a more stable congress because the power would be distributed more evenly.

Ultimately, this plan was not selected. However, parts of today's government echo this plan. The current Senate is a place where states are equally represented.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The New Jersey Plan had advantages, especially for the states with smaller populations. The Virginia Plan that had been proposed would have created a legislature with representation based on the size of a state’s population. This would have benefited the larger states, since they would have had more representatives than the smaller states. The New Jersey Plan would have created a legislature in which each state would have had the same number of representatives. This plan would have helped prevent the smaller states from being outnumbered, in terms of representatives and votes in the legislature, by the larger states. Eventually, a compromise was reached that created a two-house legislature with representation being equal in one house and unequal in the other house.

The New Jersey Plan also favored giving the states more power than the federal government. Thus, people who wanted the power of the federal government to be limited would have seen this as an advantage of the New Jersey Plan.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The "advantages" of the New Jersey Plan would be in the eye of the beholder. It is often called the "small state" plan because it afforded equal representation for each state in Congress (as opposed to the Virginia Plan, which called for two houses, with a state's representation in each based on their population). Basically, this would have preserved a significant amount of political power for the states, powers which many of the Framers thought needed to be delegated to a national government. James Madison, the architect of the Virginia Plan, was especially opposed to it, as was Alexander Hamilton, who pointed out that it was essentially the same thing as the old Articles of Confederation. Indeed, those who would have seen the advantages of the New Jersey Plan would have been those who wanted to keep the basic setup of the Articles of Confederation while making some significant changes (like adding an independent judiciary and executive and allowing the power to tax). The New Jersey Plan was thus beneficial to small states, in a way, and to those who wanted the powers of whatever national government that came out of the Philadelphia Convention to be limited.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team