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1787-1790: We adopt a Constitution for our new Republic

July 16, 1787
A breakthrough! Large states and small states find a compromise

Constitution

“Neither a national nor a federal constitution but a combination of both.”
—James Madison

For weeks, convention delegates have been arguing over representation in Congress. Large states want it based on population. Small states want each state to have the same number of votes.

It’s a key question: will this new government be national, or state-centered?

Hopes for resolution had begun to dim. Then Roger Sherman’s shrewd compromise finally came to a vote. Why not base representation in the House on population...and give each state two votes in the Senate?

Today the delegates adopted this “great compromise” by a heart-stopping margin of one vote.

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