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065 What happened at the Constitutional Convention?

65. What happened at the Constitutional Convention?
• The Constitution was written.
• The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution.

When the 13 American colonies (or areas of land ruled by Great Britain but far away from it) got their independence (or freedom) from Britain, they did not have a strong government. They agreed to follow a document called the Articles of Confederation, but it wasn’t strong enough for the new country. So political leaders decided to have a meeting called the Constitutional Convention. Some of the people who went to the Constitutional Convention wanted to improve (or make better) the Articles of Confederation. Others wanted to create a new type of government.

The Constitutional Convention was held from May 25th to September 17th, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During that time, political leaders discussed (or talked about) many important issues. One of the main disagreements was how Americans should be represented in the legislature (or the lawmaking part of the government). People from large states wanted representation to be based on population, while people from small states wanted each state to have equal representation. A man from Connecticut, Roger Sherman, finally solved (or found an answer to) the problem when he created the Connecticut Compromise, which was a solution that gave everybody some, but not all, of what they wanted. The Connecticut Compromise created the House of Representatives, where representation is based on population, and the Senate, where representation is equal for all states.

Another disagreement at the Constitutional Convention was how the votes of slaves (or people who were owned as property and were forced to work without being paid) should be counted. About 20% of the U.S. population was slaves, and most of them were in the South. States with many slaves wanted them to be counted for representation in the legislature, but not for taxes (or money paid to the government). States without slaves wanted them to be counted for taxes, but not for representation. The solution was another compromise: to count each slave as three-fifths (or 60%) of a person.

There were many other disagreements during the Constitutional Convention, but eventually the Constitution (or the most important legal document in the United States) was written. The men who were at the Constitutional Convention are often called our Founding Fathers, because they were the people who helped to found (or create) the U.S. government as we know it today.


Articles of Confederation – a 1781 agreement that created the first government of the United States
* What are the main differences between the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution?

Constitutional Convention – the meeting where the U.S. Constitution was written
* Some of the most famous people in U.S. history attended the Constitutional Convention.

to discuss (something) – to talk about something; to have a conversation about something
* Have you discussed with your boss the idea of hiring an assistant?

legislature – the lawmaking part of the government
* The state legislature made more than 40 new laws last year.

to solve (something) – to find an answer or solution to something; to fix something
* How did you solve problem #7 in the math homework?

compromise – a solution that gives everybody some, but not all, of what they want
* He said that the secret to his good marriage is to know how to make compromises with his wife.

slave – a person who is forced to work without pay and is owned by another person
* Slaves worked so hard that they often died while they were still very young.

to found – to create or establish an organization, business, or government
* Who founded the first university in the United States?