May 24: Constitutional Convention
On this day in 1787, Constitutional Convention, the Constitutional Convention officially began. The meeting, which followed the Annapolis Convention in 1786, had a stated purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation, but ended with the writing of a whole new constitution. It was planned to begin May 14, but had to be postponed after a quorum failed to form. Five days after deliberations began, on May 29, James Madison proposed the Virginia Plan, which provided some of the contours of the federal government we know today. Large states supported the Virginia Plan because it provided for representation in Congress based on each state’s population. The opposing New Jersey Plan, put forth by William Paterson on June 15, would have established equal representation for all states. These two systems were eventually combined in mid-July in the so-called Connecticut Compromise, which established a House of Representatives with proportional representation and a Senate with an equal number of members from each state.