What Was The New Jersey Plan?
New Jersey Plan: The New Jersey Plan (also known as the Small State Plan or the Paterson Plan) was a proposal for the structure of the United States Government presented by William Paterson at the Constitutional Convention on June 15, 1787. The plan was created in response to the Virginia Plan, which called for two houses of Congress, both elected with apportionment according to population. The less populous states were adamantly opposed to giving most of the control of the national government to the more populous states, and so proposed an alternative plan that would have kept the one-vote-per-state representation under one legislative body from the Articles of Confederation. The New Jersey Plan was opposed by James Madison and Edmund Randolph (the proponents of the Virginia State Plan).
The New Jersey Plan was one option as to how the United States would be governed. The Plan called for each state to have one vote in Congress instead of the number of votes being based on population. This was to protect the equality of the states regardless of population size.
The New Jersey Plan was introduced to the Constitutional Convention by William Paterson, a New Jersey delegate, on June 15, 1787. The Constitutional Convention was convened to amend the Articles of Confederation, but it became apparent that a new government would need to be created. The Articles of Confederation was the first form of government but was considered ineffective because Americans did not want to have another tyrant like Great Britain. The states wanted power. One of the major debates that emerged during the Convention is how many votes each state would have in Congress.
The New Jersey Plan was meant to be the alternative to the Virginia Plan in regards to how the federal government would be structured. Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and a delegate from Maryland (named Luther Martin) created the New Jersey Plan. The New Jersey Plan was meant to protect the interests of the smaller states from being trampled by the larger states. The plan called for one vote per state in Congress rather than having votes based on representation since that would benefit the larger states. The Virginia Plan called for two houses based on representation and that would have nullified the power of the smaller states.
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New Jersey Plan Definition
After two weeks of debating the Virginia Plan, a counterproposal was put forth by William Patterson, which has become known as the New Jersey Plan (or the Small State Plan or the Patterson Plan). Patterson’s ideas amounted to no more than a simple reshaping of the Articles of Confederation.
The plan once again offered the idea of a unicameral (one house) legislature in which all states would have an equal number of votes.
Nevertheless, Patterson did advance one highly valuable idea:
“All acts of the United States in Congress made in pursuance of the powers hereby and by the articles of confederation vested in them, and all Treaties made and ratified under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the respective States . . . and the Judiciary of the several States shall be bound thereby in their decisions, anything in the respective laws of the individual States to the contrary notwithstanding.”
What Was The New Jersey Plan
At the Convention, several plans were introduced. James Madison’s plan, known as the Virginia Plan, was the most important plan. The Virginia Plan was a proposal by Virginia delegates for a bicameral legislative branch. Prior to the start of the Convention, the Virginian delegates met and, drawing largely from Madison’s suggestions, drafted a plan. In its proposal, both houses of the legislature would be determined proportionately. The lower house would be elected by the people, and the upper house would be elected by the lower house. The executive branch would exist solely to ensure that the will of the legislature was carried out and, therefore, would be selected by the legislature.
After the Virginia Plan was introduced, New Jersey delegate William Paterson asked for an adjournment to contemplate the plan. Under the Articles of Confederation, each state had equal representation in Congress, exercising one vote each. Paterson’s New Jersey Plan was ultimately a rebuttal to the Virginia Plan. Under the New Jersey Plan, the unicameral legislature with one vote per state was inherited from the Articles of Confederation. This position reflected the belief that the states were independent entities and as they entered the United States of America freely and individually, so they remained.
To resolve this stalemate, the Connecticut Compromise, forged by Roger Sherman from Connecticut, was proposed on June 11. In a sense, it blended the Virginia (large-state) and New Jersey (small-state) proposals. Ultimately, however, its main contribution was in determining the apportionment of the Senate and, thus, retaining a federal character in the constitution. What was ultimately included in the constitution was a modified form of this plan.
What is the purpose of the New Jersey plan?
The New Jersey Plan was one option as to how the United States would be governed. The Plan called for each state to have one vote in Congress instead of the number of votes being based on population. It was introduced to the Constitutional Convention by William Paterson, a New Jersey delegate, on June 15, 1787.
What was the most important part of the New Jersey plan?
Perhaps the most important of these was introduced by the Connecticut Compromise, which established a bicameral legislature with the U.S. House of Representatives apportioned by population, as desired by the Virginia Plan, and the Senate granted equal votes per state, as desired by the New Jersey Plan.
How did the New Jersey plan favor small states?
Virginia Plan And New Jersey Plan
Delegates from the large states were naturally opposed to the New Jersey Plan, as it would diminish their influence. The convention ultimately rejected Paterson’s plan by a 7-3 vote, yet the delegates from the small states remained adamantly opposed to the Virginia plan.
The disagreement over apportionment of the legislature had the convention stymied. What saved the convention was a compromise brought forward to Roger Sherman of Connecticut, which became known as the Connecticut Plan or the Great Compromise.
Under the compromise proposal, there would be a bicameral legislature, with a lower house whose membership was apportioned by the population of the states, and an upper house in which each state would have two members and two votes.
The next problem that arose was a debate over how the population of enslaved Americans—a considerable population in some of the southern states—would be counted in the apportionment for the House of Representatives. If the enslaved population counted toward apportionment, the slave states would acquire more power in Congress, though many of those being counted in the population had no rights to speak of. This conflict led to a compromise in which slaves were counted not as full people, but as 3/5 of a person for purposes of apportionment.
As the compromises were worked out, William Paterson threw his support behind the new Constitution as did other delegates from smaller states. Though Paterson’s New Jersey Plan had been rejected, the debates over his proposal ensured that the U.S. Senate would be structured with each state having two Senators.
The issue of how the Senate is constituted often comes up in political debates in the modern era. As the American population is centered around urban areas, it can seem unfair that states with small populations have the same number of Senators as a New York or a California. Yet that structure is the legacy of William Paterson’s argument that small states would be deprived of any power at all in a completely apportioned legislative branch.
The New Jersey Plan Called For
Under the New Jersey Plan, the unicameral legislature with one vote per state was inherited from the Articles of Confederation. This position reflected the belief that the states were independent entities and, as they entered the United States of America freely and individually, remained so.
The plan proposed the following:
- The Articles of Confederation should be amended.
- In addition to the existing powers under all of the Articles of Confederation, Congress gained authority to raise funds via tariffs and other measures, and to regulate interstate commerce and commerce with other nations. Cases involving these powers would still be heard by state courts unless appealed to the federal judiciary.
- Congress has the authority to collect taxes from states based on the number of free inhabitants and 3/5ths of slaves in that state. However, this power requires the consent of some proportion of the states.
- Congress elects a federal executive, consisting of multiple people, who cannot be re-elected and can be recalled by Congress when requested by the majority of executives of the states.
- The federal judiciary is represented by a Supreme Tribunal, appointed by the federal executive, which has authority in federal impeachment cases and as the appeal of last resort in cases dealing with national matters (such as treaties).
- The Articles of Confederation and treaties are the supreme law of the land, an early representation in the debates of the Supremacy Clause. The federal executive is authorized to use force to compel non-compliant states to observe the law.
- A policy of admission of new states should be established.
- A singular policy for naturalization should be established.
- A citizen of one state can be prosecuted under the laws of another state in which the crime was committed.
Variations also proposed that state governments must be bound by oath to support the Articles, that a policy should be established to handle territorial disputes, and that the offenses deemed as treason should be defined.