A general Constitutional Convention to revise the Articles of
Confederation met at Philadelphia in May, 1787.Opinions concerning how
the government should be managed differed dramatically from state to state
resulting in several competing plans: The Virginia Plan, The Pinckney Plan,
the New Jersey Plan, and the Hamilton Plan.Some plans advocated giving
the federal government almost total power, others thought that the federal
government should be given general powers with interpretation left up to
Congress and yet others wanted to grant only specific powers to the federal
government (The constitutional convention). In the end, a balance was
The Virginia delegation, under the leadership of James Madison and
Governor Edmund Randolph prepared the Virginia Plan which was presented to
the Convention on May 29th and May 30th. Instead of simply amending the
Articles of Confederation, the Virginia Plan proposed an entirely new
system. It called for a powerful national government consisting of three
branches, executive, legislative and judicial with a two-house legislature
(Wright and MacGregor, 1987).Under the Virginia Plan, a lower house would
be chosen by the people of the states, with representation according to
population; and an upper house to be chosen by the lower house. Congress
was to have the broad power to legislate in cases to where separate States
are incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be
interrupted.Congress was also to be given the power to nullify state laws
that it believed violated the Constitution, thus ensuring the national
government’s supremacy over the states. The Virginia Plan advocated a
parliamentary form of government, in which the Congress chose the principal
executive officers of the government as well as federal judges. Finally,
the Virginia Plan included the power to veto acts of Congress (Dye, 2002).