New Jersey Plan
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The New Jersey Plan (also known as the Small State Plan or the Paterson Plan) was a proposal for the structure of the United States Government presented by William Paterson at the Constitutional Convention on June 15, 1787. The plan was created in response to the Virginia Plan, which called for two houses of Congress, both elected with apportionment according to population. The less populous states were adamantly opposed to giving most of the control of the national government to the more populous states, and so proposed an alternative plan that would have kept the one-vote-per-state representation under one legislative body from the Articles of Confederation.
Under the New Jersey Plan, the unicameral legislature with one vote per state was inherited from the Articles of Confederation. This position reflected the belief that the states were independent entities and, as they entered the United States of America freely and individually, remained so.
The plan proposed the following:
- The Articles of Confederation should be amended.
- In addition to the existing powers under all of the Articles of Confederation, Congress gained authority to raise funds via tariffs and other measures, and to regulate interstate commerce and commerce with other nations. Cases involving these powers would still be heard by state courts unless appealed to the federal judiciary.
- Congress has the authority to collect taxes from states based on the number of free inhabitants and 3/5ths of slaves in that state. However, this power requires the consent of some proportion of the states.
- Congress elects a federal executive, consisting of multiple people, who cannot be re-elected and can be recalled by Congress when requested by the majority of executives of the states.
- The federal judiciary is represented by a Supreme Tribunal, appointed by the federal executive, which has authority in federal impeachment cases and as the appeal of last resort in cases dealing with national matters (such as treaties).
- The Articles of Confederation and treaties are the supreme law of the land, an early representation in the debates of the Supremacy Clause. The federal executive is authorized to use force to compel non-compliant states to observe the law.
- A policy of admission of new states should be established.
- A singular policy for naturalization should be established.
- A citizen of one state can be prosecuted under the laws of another state in which the crime was committed.
Variations also proposed that state governments must be bound by oath to support the Articles, that a policy should be established to handle territorial disputes, and that the offenses deemed as treason should be defined.
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Ultimately, the New Jersey Plan was rejected as a basis for a new constitution. The Virginia Plan was used, but some ideas from the New Jersey Plan were added (as a part of the Great Compromise). Perhaps the most important of these was introduced by the Connecticut Compromise, which established a bicameral legislature with the U.S. House of Representatives apportioned by population, as desired by the Virginia Plan, and the Senate granted equal votes per state, as desired by the New Jersey Plan.
- "The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 reported by James Madison: on June 15". The Avalon Project at Yale Law School. Archived from the original on January 23, 2017. Retrieved August 20, 2017.
- William Paterson Biography in Soldier-Statesmen of the Constitution, a publication of the United States Army Center of Military History. Accessed October 23, 2007. "He was the co-author of the New Jersey (or Paterson) Plan that asserted the rights of the small states by proposing a national legislature that, ignoring differences in size and population, gave equal voice to all the states. The proposal countered the Virginia Plan introduced by Edmund Randolph, which granted special recognition to differences in population and, therefore, favored the large states."
- The Supremacy Clause: A Reference Guide to the United States Constitution
- The Authority for Federalism: Madison's Negative and the Origins of Federal Ideology
- "Variant Texts of the Plan Presented by William Patterson - Text B". The Avalon Project.
- "Variant Texts of the Plan Presented by William Patterson - Text C". The Avalon Project.