Why was the New Jersey Plan formulated? What was the Virginia Plan?
The New Jersey Plan was formulated by New Jersey delegate William Paterson in response to the Virginia Plan (aka the Big State Plan) that had been proposed to the Constitutional Convention on May 28, 1787. The Virginia Plan had broadened the debate of the conference from revising the Articles of Confederation to including what form the structure and power of the national government should take take. The Virginia Plan had advocated a strong National Government that could collect taxes and make and enforce laws. It was based on a national and state government system with a Separation of Powers consisting of legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The proposals featured a bicameral legislature (two houses) consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate and a system of proportional representation.
New Jersey Plan: Opposition to the Virginia Plan
The smaller states opposed the Virginia Plan because the resolution for proportional representation would mean that smaller states would have far less say in government than the large states. Adoption of the Virginia Plan would mean that each state would have a different number of representatives based on the state's population - the more people a state had, the more representatives it would have in the legislature. On Thursday, June 14, 1787, William Paterson of New Jersey requested his fellow delegates at the Constitutional Convention to allow the opportunity to develop an alternate option for the structure of the United States Government.
Reason for the New Jersey Plan
The New Jersey Plan was therefore formulated by delegates from the small states providing alternative ideas for a new government system as a response to the Virginia Plan to prevent the large states becoming too powerful.
Who wrote and proposed the New Jersey Plan?
The delegates of the small states of New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and Delaware agreed the New Jersey Plan which had been drafted by William Paterson. It was proposed to the Constitutional Convention by William Paterson on June 15, 1787. William Paterson (1745 – 1806) was a lawyer and the Governor of Virginia who introduced and defended the New Jersey Plan to the Convention's delegates. William Paterson believed in the predominance of law over governments.
What did the New Jersey Plan Propose?
The New Jersey Plan proposed a unicameral legislation (one house) consisting of a single Congressional legislative body in which each State would have an equal number of representatives. Judge William Paterson had hoped that his New Jersey Plan would address the concerns of both large and small states. The small states would not be penalized on account of their smaller populations and the large states would no longer need be concerned about the formation of potential alliances. The eleven resolutions of the New Jersey Plan contained many points and basically included the following:
Resolutions of the New Jersey Plan
Resolution 1: Called for "a union of the States merely federal" reflecting beliefs that the states should have more power than the National government (for more info refer to Federalists and Anti-Federalists)
Resolution 2: The articles of the confederation ought to be revised, corrected and enlarged
Resolution 3: The federal Government ought to consist of a Supreme Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary
Resolution 4: The Powers of Legislation (meaning authority to make, alter and repeal laws) ought to be vested in Congress
Resolution 5: Additional powers given to congress to pass laws applying duties (taxes) on foreign goods and regulation of trade and interstate commerce
Main points of other Resolutions: Congress should be given the authority to collect taxes from states based on the number of free citizens and 3/5ths of slaves in that state but this power requires the consent of some proportion of the states (term limits of representatives stated
Congress should elect a federal executive (rules of election and recall also stated)The federal judiciary is represented by a Supreme Tribunal appointed by the executive (powers and terms stated - The judiciary would be appointed by the executive and would serve for life)
The Articles of Confederation and treaties are the supreme law of the landThe federal executive is authorized to use force to compel non-compliant states to observe the law
A procedure for the admission of new states should be establishedA procedure relating to Naturalization should be established (meaning the acquisition of citizenship and nationality by somebody who was not a citizen of that country
A citizen of one state can be prosecuted under the laws of another state in which the crime was committedState Legislatures, Executives, and the judiciary should be bound by oath to support the Articles of Union
Who Opposed the New Jersey Plan?
The large states opposed the New Jersey Plan because of the resolution for proportional representation. The opposition was led by was opposed by James Madison and Edmund Randolph who had presented the Virginia Plan.
The Significance of the New Jersey Plan
The Significance of the New Jersey Plan was:
The New Jersey plan favored giving control of the federal government to the states, not the people through their representatives
The New Jersey Plan proposed a unicameral legislature of only one house
The New Jersey Plan called for equal representation in which each state had the same number of representatives
The New Jersey Plan, like the Virginia Plan, also called for Separation of Powers consisting of legislative, executive, and judicial branches
The differing proposals made by the Virginia and New Jersey Plan led to the Great Compromise
Some elements of the New Jersey Plan were adopted by the Convention and written into the Constitution
The New Jersey Plan: Names of the Small State Delegates
The names of the delegates who attended the Constitutional Convention together with the states they represented are detailed in the table below. An asterisk * indicates the names of the delegates who did not sign the Constitution.
New Jersey Delaware
Brearly (Brearley), David
Houston, William C.*
Paterson (Patterson), William
Bassett (Basset), Richard
Bedford, Gunning, Jr.
Connecticut New York
Ellsworth (Elsworth), Oliver*
Johnson, William S.
Lansing, John, Jr.*
Yates, Robert *
President George Washington Video
The article on the New Jersey Plan of the Constitution the facts and history of one of the major events that occurred prior to George Washington's presidential term in office. The following video will give you additional important facts and dates about the political events experienced by the 1st American President whose presidency spanned from April 30, 1789 to March 4, 1797.