The Connecticut Compromise was an agreement that established the structure of the U.S. legislative branch, creating a Congress with two branches: an upper house, called the Senate, and a lower house, called the House of Representatives. The agreement also stipulated that each state would have two senators, and representation in the lower house would depend on the population of each state.
At present, the United States uses a bicameral legislative body. This is now a generally accepted phenomenon, but it has not always been so. To explain the Connecticut Compromise, one must examine its historical context.
In the late 18th century, the U.S. states began to discuss the creation of a bicameral legislature. The most significant challenge to its approval emerged as a concern over the representation of each state in a new government. The initial proposal was proportional representation, meaning that each state would have an appropriate number of both senators and representatives according to its population.
On the one hand, this idea satisfied large states that believed that having a more substantial role in the legislative branch would be fair considering that they could offer more significant contributions to the nation because of their large population. On the other hand, smaller states were afraid that this proportional system would allow their interests to become neglected. Thus, the situation deteriorated in severe conflict, which the Connecticut Compromise endeavored to resolve.
On July 16, 1787, the proposal for the Connecticut Compromise, drafted by Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth, was presented to the Philadelphia Convention. Sherman occupies a special place in American history because he was the only politician who signed all four documents of the American Revolution.
The fact that the two men were Connecticut’s delegates gave rise to the origin of the term, ‘Connecticut Compromise.’ Also known as the Great Compromise, this agreement proposed the legislative structure described above, which remains in use to this day. The proportional approach to representation was preserved for the House of Representatives, while the Senate had fixed representation made up of two politicians from each state.
One should mention that the Convention adopted this proposal by a margin of one vote, demonstrating that a single vote can be significant for the development of a whole nation. To comprehend why the agreement was successful, one should examine how the Connecticut Compromise satisfied both opposing groups. Roger and Ellsworth managed to combine the different requirements of both small and large states, creating a successful system of representation.
On the one hand, the two men understood that a coordinated representation system would benefit smaller states. On the other hand, it was impossible to ignore that larger states made more significant contributions to the nation’s financial and defensive fields. In the end, the politicians created a compromise that was acceptable to both sides.
What did the Connecticut Compromise help establish in the United States? Primarily, the U.S. bicameral legislature that appeared as a result of this agreement is still in use today. The system that has been governing the nation for more than two centuries appeared in the late 18th century due to the work of two Connecticut political leaders. The two figures managed to create a legislative branch that was based on the principle of fairness and that considered contributions of individual states to the development of the country.