Nov 14, 2020 in History


The Philadelphia Convention

The Philadelphia Convention seeks to address critical issues the United States Congress faces mainly in the division of power between the National government and the State government. The Philadelphia Convention is based on the understanding that the Congress is seriously dependent on the States and lacks respect from the people it serves. Major issues the Congress are challenged with include the national governments considerable reliance on contributions from the individual states (National Archives and Records Administration). First, some of the States fail to contribute at the same time affecting the federal government ability to deliver vital services including paying for the army. Second, some states have differing trade tariffs and, therefore, when creating their internal commerce laws they make trade difficult and adversely impact on the economy. Third, some states have continued printing their money which undermines the economy of the union. Finally, the national government and the Congress have no power to tax and regulate commerce which affects revenues and regional and global trade. After the Revolutionary War, the British flooded the American market with British goods negatively influencing the economy of the individual States and the Union. The national government is unable to rescue the situation as far as it lacks legitimacy before the States and global partners (National Archives and Records Administration). Therefore, it has required the Congress to call the Philadelphia Convention to review the Articles of the Confederation and discuss key areas limiting the power of the national government.


The Philadelphia conference will highlight key issues that threaten the stability of the union. One of them is the representation of individual States at the Congress level including factors that determine it. Another one refers to the powers of the national government over the state governments including the power to regulate trade, the justice system, and taxation. The other relates to the issue of slavery and the identity of black people and slaves and whether they will be represented in the Congress and lower houses or not.

The question to be raised is how the Union would be governed. The convention came into an agreement to adopt the Virginia plan drafted by George Madison and edited the main areas. The original Virginia plan favors big states and envisions a bicameral legislature with both upper and lower houses membership based on the proportional population of each state (Constitutional Rights Foundation). The smaller states oppose to the article as feel they will be disadvantaged in making common decisions (National Archives and Records Administration). Regarding this issue, the delegates came to what is known the Connecticut Compromise. Under the compromise, the upper house (Senate) will have equal representation with each state having one member equals to one vote (History). The House of Representatives will have membership based on population number. The criteria will consider the total number of whites and a three-fifth of the slave population.

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On this matter, I agree with the convention compromise to have the upper house which is more powerful representing one member from each State. Despite their size states will have a significant influence on the decisions regarding the economy, social and political composition of the union. However, I do not agree with the failure to count slaves as meaningful members of the society.

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The second contentious issue was the composition of the national government. The majority voted for a board of three: the judiciary, legislature, and the executive. The legislature will make laws while the judiciary will maintain law and order by interpreting contradictory issues. At the same time, the national government is empowered to regulate trade, commerce, taxes, money printing and foreign policies (History). The executive will be different from the legislature and the powers of the executive (President) are widely undefined. George Washington is entrusted by the States to determine the powers of the executive as well as he is bound to be the first President given his achievements during the Revolutionary war. The House of Representatives will elect the President that can only serve two terms of four years each in order to ensure that the United States of America does not become a monarch (Constitutional Rights Foundation). I plan to support the new articles of the governing of the United States including the representation of states, arms of government, and powers of the executive.

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Finally, the issue of slavery raised serious debates and conflicts mainly between Southern and the Northern States. The following matters were discussed regarding the issue of slavery. The Southern States have made two proposals and threatens not to honor all other articles if their demands are not satisfied. In order to protect Southern economies the Congress has no authority to tax Southern agricultural products. Moreover, the Congress has no power to ban the importation of slaves (Constitutional Rights Foundation). Luther Martin, a delegate from Maryland, noted that the importation of slaves is inconsistent with the principles of the revolution and dishonorable to the American character. Governor Morris of Pennsylvania referred to slavery as a nefarious institution and a curse of heaven on the states where it prevailed (Constitutional Rights Foundation). The Southern States also want the enactment of the Fugitive Clause against all slaves held in the South. If the fugitive clause is approved, it will allow slaves who escape to a different state to be returned to the original state and the original owner.

To sum up, I have the intention to vote for all other legislations except the laws regarding slavery. Slavery is against the founding principles of the United States and, moreover, it violates the spirit of the revolution. Slavery disregards human rights while the Southern States demands are based on the preservation of their economies at the importance of human rights.


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