7th Grade New York

Great Compromise

This inquiry leads students through an investigation of the Great Compromise using various sources related to its adoption. The Great Compromise was the pivotal breakthrough of the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Originally formed to revise the weak Articles of Confederation, the convention quickly took on the massive task of designing a new federal government. While the work of the convention occurred quickly, May 25 to September 17, 1787, it was not without considerable debate, disagreement, and compromise. The July 16th “Great Compromise” on the Connecticut Plan regarding the structure of the government was perhaps the most consequential compromise. By investigating the compelling question, students examine the structure of government under the Articles of Confederation, investigate two proposals (Virginia and New Jersey plans) for a new arrangement, and analyze the role of the Connecticut Plan and the Great Compromise in the development of the United States Constitution. By completing this inquiry, students will begin to understand the importance of compromise in democracies.

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Compelling Question:

Is Compromise Always Fair?

Staging the Question: Describe daily life instances where compromises were made.
1

Supporting Question How was representation determined under the Articles of Confederation?

Formative Task Write a description of how states were represented in the Congress under the Articles of Confederation.

Sources Source A: Excerpt from Articles of Confederation

2

Supporting Question What was the Virginia Plan?

Formative Task Write a summary of the Virginia Plan highlighting the impact on large and small states.

Sources Source A: Excerpt from Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 (Virginia Plan)
Source B: Diagram of the Virginia Plan
Source C: Chart of the US population in 1790

3

Supporting Question What was the New Jersey Plan?

Formative Task Write a summary of the New Jersey Plan highlighting the impact on large and small states.

Sources Source A: Excerpt from Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 (New Jersey Plan)
Source B: Diagram of the New Jersey Plan

4

Supporting Question How did the Connecticut Plan break the impasse?

Formative Task Write a claim with evidence about how the Connecticut Plan broke the gridlock at the Constitutional Convention.

Sources Source A: Excerpt from Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 (Connecticut Plan)
Source B: Excerpt from Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 (Virginia and New Jersey Plans)
Source C: Excerpt from Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 (Connecticut Plan)

Summative Performance Task

Argument: Is compromise always fair? Construct an argument (e.g., detailed outline, poster, essay) that discusses whether or not the Great Compromise was fair to both less populated and more populated states using specific claims and relevant evidence from historical sources while acknowledging competing views.
Extension: Hold a mock Constitutional Convention debate about the Great Compromise.

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Investigate an issue that requires compromise over representation in a school or community setting (e.g., representation on a student council for the school).
Assess: Determine the benefits and drawbacks for various approaches to representation.
Act: Create a plan that balances the needs of both sides and share it with students and leaders in the school.