Two Primary Agreements Of Delegates At Constitutional Convention

October 12, 2021

Slavery was one of the most controversial topics the delegates faced. Slavery was widespread in states at the time of the Convention. Twenty-five of the Convention`s 55 delegates owned slaves, all of them delegates from Virginia and South Carolina. The question of whether slavery should be regulated by the new Constitution was a matter of such intense conflict between North and South that several southern states refused to join the Union if slavery was not allowed. On July 17, delegates worked to define the powers of the Congress. Virginia`s plan affirmed the supremacy of the national government, gave Congress the power to “legislate in all cases where individual states are incompetent,” and declared that congressional legislation would prevail over conflicting state laws. In a proposal submitted by Gunning Bedford, the Convention approved this provision, with only South Carolina and Georgia voting against. Four small states – Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland – have agreed to the extension of congressional power. Later in life, Madison explained that this was the result of the Great Compromise. As soon as the small states were assured that they would be represented in the new government, they surpassed “all others in zeal” for a strong national government.

[111] In June, delegates voted for Congress to appoint the executive, but fears persist that the executive is not subject to legislative power. On 17 July, the Convention returned to this theme. The direct election of the people was defeated by nine votes to one. Luther Martin then proposed a modified version of James Wilson`s idea for an electoral college, first presented in June. Wilson had proposed that people vote for voters who would elect the president. Martin`s version called for state legislators to elect voters, but that too was defeated. [114] Later, on July 19, Elbridge Gerry unsuccessfully proposed that governors elect voters, a policy that would have increased the state`s influence over the presidency. [115] Delegates needed a break from discussions on the presidency, so they turned their attention again to justice on July 18. They still disagreed on the type of appointment. Half of the Convention wanted the Senate to choose judges, while the other half wanted the President to do so.

Luther Martin supported the appointment of the Senate because he believed that the members of the body would defend the interests of each state. [118] On July 21, Wilson and Madison attempted to revive Madison`s proposal. While judges have played a role in verifying the constitutionality of laws, Gorham argued, conflating the president`s political judgments with a court`s legal rulings would violate the separation of powers. . . .

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