The Connecticut Compromise: Definition, Summary & Author

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  • 0:02 Events Leading Up
  • 1:15 What Is the…
  • 2:14 Authors of the Compromise
  • 3:06 Legacy
  • 4:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Stephen Benz

Stephen has a JD and a BA in sociology and political science.

The Connecticut Compromise resolved a conflict between big states and small states at the Constitutional Convention. Without it, the Constitution would not have been passed. In this lesson, we'll discuss the authors of the compromise and its significance.

Events Leading Up to the Connecticut Compromise

What would the United States be today if the original 13 states never came to an agreement on the Constitution? This was nearly the case during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, because the states could not agree on how the legislative branch of the government should look. But thanks to the Connecticut Compromise, this was not a long-lived problem.

Before we learn more about what the Connecticut Comprise is, let's look at the situation that led up to it.

The Framers of the Constitution had already agreed that they would have a bicameral, or two-house, legislative branch. The Framers had decided that one branch would have representatives who served for six years and another branch would have representatives who served for two years.

Large, more populous states wanted the number of representatives from each state in the legislature to be dependent on the size of the population of the state. After all, these states figured that they had the most people and were contributing the most money to the national government. Small states, on the other hand, wanted the legislature to have an equal number of representatives for all states. These small states feared that they would be controlled by the large states and have little say if representation was based on population.

What Is the Connecticut Compromise?

A gridlock over state representation resulted during the Constitutional Convention. At odds were two competing plans: the Virginia plan, which favored large states, and the New Jersey plan, which favored small states. The representatives, who had been working for seven weeks in the hot summer, almost had everything that they had been working on completely unraveled due to the stalemate between states.

The saving grace that helped preserve the Constitution was the Connecticut Compromise, also referred to as the Great Compromise. This compromise reconciled the two sides by making up one house of legislature, the Senate, of two equal representatives from each state, and the other house of the legislature, the House of Representatives, to be distributed according to the population of each state. According to the Connecticut Compromise, members of the House of Representatives would be elected by popular vote, and members of Senate would be appointed by state legislatures.

Authors of the Compromise

This agreement is called the Connecticut Compromise because it was proposed by two representatives from the state of Connecticut: Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth. Rising from relatively modest means, Roger Sherman eventually became a lawyer and major landowner in Connecticut. He was a major contributor to the Declaration of Independence, the original Articles of Confederation and made over 100 speeches at the Constitutional Convention.

Roger Sherman was one of the key writers of the Connecticut Compromise.

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