Deficiencies of the New Jersey Plan

Rufus King
Rufus King, delegate from Massachusetts
Charles Willson Peale, 1818

Independence National Historical Park

Deficiencies of the New Jersey Plan

"I think the public never ought to see anything but the final report of the Convention - the digested result only, of their deliberations and enquiries."

- Nathan Dane to Massachusetts delegate Rufus King

The convention resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole, with Mr. Gorham (MA) as chair. John Dickinson's change to the first resolution of New Jersey Plan was rejected. The rest of his detailed plan never came to the floor. Debate returned to the New Jersey plan.

Madison (VA) spoke at length, pointing out that the New Jersey Plan wouldn't prevent treaty violations by the states, encroachments on Federal authority, or conflicts between states. Moreover, it wouldn't secure the internal tranquility of the states, provide good internal legislation for any particular state, nor protect the Union against the influence of foreign powers over its members. It would, however, saddle the small states with the expense of their congressional delegation.

Madison warned that if no plan was approved and the union dissolved, the small states would be at the mercy of their larger neighbors.

A motion to postpone the first proposition of the New Jersey plan carried. A motion to use and re-report the Virginia Plan carried, and the Committee rose. The small states had lost again.

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Last updated: February 26, 2015

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