Connecticut Compromise

Agreement reached during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that in part defined the legislative structure and representation each state would have under the United States Constitution.

- Connecticut Compromise

45 related topics


Constitutional Convention (United States)

The Constitutional Convention took place in Philadelphia from May 25 to September 17, 1787.

Independence Hall's Assembly Room
James Madison, the author of the Virginia Plan
Virginia Plan
Charles Pinckney Plan
Edmund Randolph, the Governor of Virginia, introduced the Virginia Plan
James Wilson's ideas shaped the American presidency more than any other delegate
New Jersey Plan
Hamilton's Plan
Roger Sherman of Connecticut
Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania
Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, by Howard Chandler Christy (1940)
U.S. Postage, Issue of 1937, depicting Delegates at the signing of the Constitution, engraving after a painting by Junius Brutus Stearns
Quaker John Dickinson argued forcefully against slavery during the convention. Once Delaware's largest slaveholder, he had freed all of his slaves by 1787.

Progress was slow until mid-July, when the Connecticut Compromise resolved enough lingering arguments for a draft written by the Committee of Detail to gain acceptance.


Type of legislature, one divided into two separate assemblies, chambers, or houses, known as a bicameral legislature.

The Palace of Westminster, seat of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
The United States Capitol, seat of the United States Congress.
The Sansad Bhavan, seat of the Parliament of India.
The National Congress of Brazil, seat of the Chamber of Deputies and the Federal Senate
The federal bicameral Parliament of Canada, which contains a House of Commons and a Senate
The federal bicameral Parliament of Australia, which contains a House of Representatives and a Senate
The House of Lords chamber
Provincial legislatures in Argentina

As part of the Great Compromise, the Founding Fathers invented a new rationale for bicameralism in which the Senate had an equal number of delegates per state, and the House had representatives by relative populations.

Roger Sherman

Early American statesman, lawyer, and a Founding Father of the United States.

The Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull (1819) depicts the Committee of Five presenting its work to Congress. Sherman is second from the left.
Foundation of the American Government. Roger Sherman is closest behind Morris, who is signing the Constitution. 1925 painting by John Henry Hintermeister.
The Committee of Five, including Sherman, is depicted on the pediment of the Jefferson Memorial in a sculpture by Adolph Alexander Weinman.

After supporting the establishment of a new constitution, Sherman became a key delegate and main opponent of James Madison's Virginia Plan by introducing the Connecticut Compromise that won the approval of both the more and less populous states.

United States Senate

Upper chamber of the United States Congress, with the House of Representatives being the lower chamber.

Graph showing historical party control of the U.S. Senate, House and Presidency since 1855
Members of the United States Senate for the 117th Congress
A typical Senate desk
The Senate side of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Committee Room 226 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building is used for hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Senate has the power to try impeachments; shown above is Theodore R. Davis's drawing of the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson, 1868
U.S. Senate chamber c. 1873: two or three spittoons are visible by desks

This idea of having one chamber represent people equally, while the other gives equal representation to states regardless of population, was known as the Connecticut Compromise.

Constitution of the United States

Supreme law of the United States of America.

Page one of the officially engrossed copy of the Constitution signed by delegates. A print run of 500 copies of the final version preceded this copy.
Signing of the Constitution, September 17, 1787 (1940 by Howard Chandler Christy)
Dates the 13 states ratified the Constitution
"We the People" in an original edition
Closing endorsement section of the United States Constitution
United States Bill of Rights
Currently housed in the National Archives.
John Jay, 1789–1795
John Marshall, 1801–1835
Salmon P. Chase {{refn|group= lower-alpha|The Chase Court, 1864–1873, in 1865 were Salmon P. Chase (chief Justice); Hon. Nathan Clifford, Maine; Stephen J. Field, Justice Supreme Court, U.S.; Hon. Samuel F. Miller, U.S. Supreme Court; Hon. Noah H. Swayne, Justice Supreme Court, U.S.; Judge Morrison R. Waite}}
William Howard Taft {{refn|group= lower-alpha|The Taft Court, 1921–1930, in 1925 were James Clark McReynolds, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., William Howard Taft (chief justice), Willis Van Devanter, Louis Brandeis. Edward Sanford, George Sutherland, Pierce Butler, Harlan Fiske Stone}}
Earl Warren {{refn|group= lower-alpha|The Warren Court, 1953–1969, in 1963 were Felix Frankfurter; Hugo Black; Earl Warren (chief justice); Stanley Reed; William O. Douglas. Tom Clark; Robert H. Jackson; Harold Burton; Sherman Minton}}
William Rehnquist {{refn|group= lower-alpha|The Rehnquist Court, 1986–2005.}}
José Rizal
Sun Yat-sen

In its report, now known as the Connecticut Compromise (or "Great Compromise"), the committee proposed proportional representation for seats in the House of Representatives based on population (with the people voting for representatives), and equal representation for each State in the Senate (with each state's legislators generally choosing their respective senators), and that all money bills would originate in the House.

United States House of Representatives

Lower house of the United States Congress, with the Senate being the upper house.

Representation of all political parties as percentage in House of Representatives over time
Historical graph of party control of the Senate and House as well as the presidency
Republican speaker of the House Thomas Brackett Reed (1895–1899)
All 435 voting seats of the current House shown grouped by state, largest to smallest (From 2015)
Population per U.S. representative allocated to each of the 50 states and D.C., ranked by population. Since D.C. (ranked 49th) receives no voting seats in the House, its bar is absent.

Eventually, the Convention reached the Connecticut Compromise or Great Compromise, under which one house of Congress (the House of Representatives) would provide representation proportional to each state's population, whereas the other (the Senate) would provide equal representation amongst the states.

Oliver Ellsworth

Attorney, judge, politician, and diplomat.

Oliver and Abigail Ellsworth by Ralph Earl
Letter from Ellsworth to George Washington wishing former president "a most respectful and most cordial farewell," March 1797
An engraving depicting Ellsworth
Ellsworth's gravesite

While at the convention, Ellsworth played a role in fashioning the Connecticut Compromise between the more populous states and the less populous states.

William Paterson (judge)

New Jersey statesman and a signer of the United States Constitution.

Paterson's eldest daughter, Cornelia Bell Paterson Van Rensselaer (1780–1844), painted by Nathaniel Rogers, 1825
Paterson's granddaughter, Euphemia White Van Rensselaer (1816–1888), painted by George P. A. Healy, 1842

After the Great Compromise (for two legislative bodies: a Senate with equal representation for each state, and a House of Representatives with representation based on population), the Constitution was signed.

Federalism in the United States

Constitutional division of power between U.S. state governments and the federal government of the United States.


Preceding examples, such as in the Virginia Declaration of Rights, influenced the delegates whilst framing their ideas of Federal bicameral legislature (United States Congress), balanced representation of small and large states (Great Compromise), and checks and balances structures.

Elbridge Gerry

American Founding Father, politician, and diplomat who served as the fifth vice president of the United States under President James Madison from 1813 until his death in 1814.

Portrait by Nathaniel Jocelyn
John Adams (portrait by John Trumbull) held Gerry in high regard.
Ann Thompson
Gerry supported economic policies of Federalist Alexander Hamilton (portrait by Ezra Ames).
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand (portrait by François Gérard) insisted Gerry remain in Paris, even after negotiations had failed.
The word "gerrymander" (originally written "Gerry-mander") was used for the first time in the Boston Gazette newspaper on March 26, 1812. Appearing with the term, and helping spread and sustain its popularity, was this political cartoon, which depicts a state senate district in Essex County as a strange animal with claws, wings and a dragon-type head, satirizing the district's odd shape.
Grave of Elbridge Gerry at Congressional Cemetery
Elbridge Gerry House in Marblehead
General George Washington Resigning His Commission, by John Trumbull, shows Gerry standing on the left.

He supported the idea that the Senate composition should not be determined by population; the view that it should instead be composed of equal numbers of members for each state prevailed in the Connecticut Compromise.