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William F. Paterson's draft resolutions from the Constitutional Convention, June 13-15, 1787

William F. Paterson of New Jersey presented to the Constitutional Convention a list of resolutions favoring the smaller states. The plan called for congressional representation allotted equally among the states, irrespective of their populations. He also favored three branches of government–legislative, executive, and judicial–and proposed that all legislative authority rest with Congress.

Resolved, That every State In the Union as a State possesses an equal Right to, & Share of, Sovereignty, Freedom, and Independence.

Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

William F. Paterson's draft resolutions from the Constitutional Convention, June 13-15, 1787 William F. Paterson's draft resolutions from the Constitutional Convention, June 13-15, 1787

Designing the Republic

At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, called to strengthen the Articles of Confederation, delegates debated whether the states should be represented in the legislature. Large states like Virginia favored representation proportional to population. Small states like New Jersey favored an equal number of delegates per state. Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth, both of Connecticut, proposed the Great Compromise that shaped the new Congress: a bicameral legislature with equal state representation in the Senate and proportional representation in the House of Representatives.