Why Was the Great Compromise Important?

chamber1860The importance of the Great Compromise is that it led to the creation of the Senate and House of Representatives. To better understand, it’s crucial to know the background and historical situation.

The Virginia Plan

That year, the states gathered to formulate the structure of the new government. There were two plans submitted. The Virginia Plan proposed three government branches. Furthermore they suggested that there be two chambers for making laws.

The first one would be selected by the people through vote. The members of the second house would be chosen by those from the first house. Their choices however, would be limited to those nominated in state legislatures. The Virginia Plan also wanted the President and the judges to be appointed by way of the legislature.

The New Jersey Plan

The importance of the Great Compromise is that it allowed for the inclusion of parts of the New Jersey Plan as well. While the Virginia Plan was sound, some voiced objections. The biggest concern was that it would give too much power to heavily populated states. They suggested that there be only one house. Its proponents also wanted every state to have equal number of representatives in the house.

The Compromise

The situation was thus: the Virginia Plan wanted representation by population size with two houses. The New Jersey Plan wanted one house with equal representation.

On July 16 1787 Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth of the Connecticut delegation proposed a deal. The importance of the Great Compromise as the two suggested was that it combined the best from both measures.

In favor of the Virginia Plan, they agreed on the creation of two houses of legislature. These would become the House of Representatives and the Senate. The members of Congress or the Lower House would depend on the population. In addition they would be elected directly.

However the Senate or Upper House was more akin to the New Jersey initiative. Each state regardless of size would have two. The senators would also be picked through state legislature. The 17th Amendment would later change that and allow the people to vote for each Senator.

The importance of the Great Compromise can also be seen in the way it wanted both houses to interact. The proposal called for all measures related to taxes, spending and fund allocation to come from the Lower House. They could however, be changed and amended by the Senate. This allowed both chambers to work more effectively.

It took eleven days of discussions for the measure to be approved. It passed on a vote of 5 to 4.


In the end the US came up with the bicameral Congress. After its approval, Alexander Hamilton and the other leaders started explaining it to the people. It gained acceptance throughout the country.

The importance of the Great Compromise is that it gave America the best possible solution to the problem of representation. The system isn’t perfect and debates can get bogged down. But by and large, it has proven effective in passing vital laws and measures.

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