The Great Compromise

GabeGovernment(ML), Mini Lessons

Common Sense Government eBook: The Constitution

… The Constitution enshrined neither the Virginia nor the New Jersey plans. Instead, in the Great, or Connecticut Compromise, elements from each were adopted for inclusion. The large states got some of what they wanted in the form of the House of Representatives, which is filled according to population. Large states are thus better represented than small states in the lower house. The Senate, on the other hand, was designed to benefit the smaller states. In the upper house, each state is given two Senators, regardless of size. The two legislative chambers, based on two very different representational models, must come to agreement before any legislation can be passed.

  1. Why do you think each state wanted the government to operate in a way that benefited it? What were they afraid of happening?
  2. One of the consequences of the system as it ended up, is that it is harder to get things done in the American government than in most countries. Do you think this is a good thing, or a bad thing?
  3. Most constitutions today include a great deal of substance – they enshrine all sorts of rights and promises to the people. The American constitution didn’t do this (at least until the Bill of Rights was added). Instead, it is procedural, rather than substantive. What might be some advantages to a procedural, over a substantive constitution?

This reading is an excerpt from Certell’s Common Sense Government eBook.  Certell offers curriculum materials and eBooks free of charge for use by students and teachers.  Click here to download the Common Sense Government materials.


2018, Jan. 16, Common Sense Government [digital image].  Retrieved from <>.