The Great Compromise Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Angela Burke

Angela has over ten years of teaching experience in Special Education, classroom teaching and GT. She has a master's degree in Special Ed with an emphasis in Gifted.

Sometimes it's hard to get along with others. In this lesson, find out how the United States government struggled to get along in 1787. Find out what the Great Compromise was and why it was important.

Making a Compromise

Have you ever had to make a deal with a friend, such as what game to play or what movie to watch? Sometimes it's not easy to agree, especially when you really want something to go your way.

Compromise is when two sides that are struggling to agree come up with a plan that both sides can accept. Believe it or not, governments have to make compromises all the time. A long time ago when America was a very new country, a deal called the Great Compromise was made. Let's find out more about what happened.

Constitutional Convention

In 1787, a really important meeting was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to discuss problems with the United States government that needed to be fixed. It was called the Constitutional Convention. Noteworthy people were at this meeting, including Founding Fathers George Washington, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. The Founding Fathers were a group of men who helped create the United States government.

Washington at Constitutional Convention of 1787
Convention

Many other delegates, or representatives, also came to the meeting. A representative is a person elected to act and speak for a group of people. The delegates had a hard time getting along because they all had different ideas about how the government should be run. There was a lot of arguing.

Figuring out Representation

One of the reasons the delegates were arguing was nobody could agree on how many representatives each state should get. States with more representatives would have more voting power. States with a large population thought the number of representatives should be based on the number of people living in a state. This was known as the Virginia Plan. States with smaller populations didn't think that was fair. They thought each state should get equal representation. This plan was called the New Jersey Plan.

For example, imagine a school with more fifth graders than third graders. If the number of representatives per class was based on class size, fifth graders would have more say in how the school was run than third graders. That wouldn't really be fair to third graders, but fifth graders might feel like it wouldn't be fair for them if fewer third graders got the same number of representatives.

Roger Sherman of Connecticut
Sherman

Great Compromise

So what did the delegates at the Constitutional Convention do? Luckily, a delegate from Connecticut named Roger Sherman came up with a compromise. He suggested a two-part legislature, or congress, to make the laws of the country.

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