What is the Virginia Plan, who authored it, and who would it benefit?

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The Virginia Plan was a working proposal for a new Constitution proposed at the Philadelphia Convention by Virginia delegate Edmund Randolph near the opening of the convention. It was primarily written by James Madison, another representative of Virginia, and it was intended to address many of the perceived problems with the Articles of Confederation, the form of government that the Philadelphia Convention had been convened to replace. It called for a much stronger central government, one that featured a powerful chief executive, a bicameral legislative body, and a "national Judiciary." Members of one branch of the legislature would serve for three years, and the other for seven. Some drafts of the plan called for a multi-person executive, but the one that became the formal proposal included an executive chosen by the legislature, eligible to serve a single term of seven years. Along with the judiciary, the executive would appoint officials to serve on an advisory council. Aside from these structural concerns, the Virginia Plan also included several provisions for amendment, for admitting new states, and established, by implication, that it would be the supreme law of the land, superseding the laws of the states in all cases. In terms of who it benefited, because each state was to be apportioned representatives based on their "quotas of contribution, or to the number of free inhabitants," it would have benefited populous and wealthy states like Virginia, which would have had a very large percentage of the representatives. Their advantage was augmented by the fact that they chose the executive. The Virginia Plan was one of several proposals submitted to the Convention, and the Constitution as ratified contains many of its elements, most notably the bicameral national legislature.

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