All of the delegates agreed on the need for a stronger central government. However, it was not until after substantial debate that they decided the Articles of Confederation so lacked the structure of effective government that the only way to rectify the errors of the Articles was to scrap them altogether in favor of a new framework. The clean slate of a new document gave the delegates the freedom to break from tradition and plan an entirely new form of government, but it also opened the door to debate over many aspects of the government, including representation, which were previously settled by the Articles of Confederation.

Legislative representation is the cornerstone of democratic republican government, and assumed a primary role in the Constitutional Convention. One reason for this was the focus of the founders on the powers of the Congress, where they envisioned the majority of the power of the national government would lie. Additionally, as states gave up power to the national governments, delegates wanted to ensure that the representatives of the state would have a weighty vote in the national Congress. This desire brought into focus the conflicting interests of small and large states. Large states naturally preferred that representation in Congress be proportional to state population, ensuring that large states would have the largest number of votes. Such is the rational behind the Virginia Plan, presented by Madison. Small states naturally resisted the Virginia Plan, since under its auspices they would be dominated by the large states.

The Virginia Plan would have granted the four largest states a majority in Congress, leaving the 9 smallest states as a minority. On the other hand, under the New Jersey Plan, the smallest seven states would constitute a majority in Congress while those states held only 25 percent of the nation's citizens. The question of representation proved to be the most significant obstacle to the drafting of the Constitution. In fact, passions ran so strongly in favor of each of the alternate Plans that the Connecticut Compromise, which seems, in retrospect, the logical solution to the debate, was not even entertained for weeks after the subject of representation came up.

Despite the roadblock presented by the issue of representation, the Constitution was drafted in an impressively short amount of time, less than three months. This suggests that the delegates from every state, though they came from different geographical, economic, and ideological backgrounds, had experienced the period of government under the Articles of Confederation similarly, and thus were able to agree upon the most appropriate way in which to rectify the errors of the Articles.

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