The constitution was written at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 and was subsequently ratified by the original thirteen states. It was a written document executed by representatives of the people of the United States as the absolute rule of action and decision for all branches and officers of the government (crash course). In order for the constitution to go into effect, 9 out of 13 states have to ratify. To ensure the approval of the constitution, compromises had to be made so that states would ratify.
There were two plans that were pushed forward at the convention, the Virginia plan and the New Jersey Plan. The Virginia Plan, led by the Virginian delegation, provided for representation to be based on the population of each state. On the other hand the New Jersey Plan, led by the delegates from New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, and New Hampshire, wanted equal representation for every state. The Great Compromise was established to compromise and combine both of the plans. Proponents of the competing plans agreed on a bicameral legislature (the text). Once the states agreed that representation in the House of Representatives was to be based on population, delegates from different states had to discuss how slaves and "other persons" would be represented. The states used little slaves (northern states) believed that slaves should not be counted toward representation. However, states that relied heavily on slaves (southern states) wanted them to be counted in terms of representation. The three-fifths clause was established to compromise the different states ideas of representation. All free persons plus "three-fifths of all other persons" constituted the numerical base for the apportionment of representatives (the text). Basically, every five slaves would be counted as three individuals. Also having to do with slaves, there was a disagreement between the northern and southern states about the importation and sale of slaves. The northern...
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