In 1787, many of the nation’s founding fathers met during the Constitutional Convention to revise the Articles of the Confederation. During this convention, the Virginia and New Jersey plans were introduced as potential revisions to the previous governmental plan of America. These two plans have some similarities as well as differences, which are apparent with a thoughtful analysis of both.

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Comparisons and Contrasts of the Virginia and New Jersey Plans

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There are several structural differences between the two plans. First, the Virginia Plan called for a bicameral or two house legislature whereas the New Jersey Plan called for a unicameral or one house legislature. The Virginia Plan required the first house to be elected by the people and the second elected by the first house with the first house representation based on population of each state. The New Jersey Plan preferred equal representation in its one house legislature with one vote per state regardless of the population in each state. The Virginia Plan specifies that all members of the House, which is the part of legislature elected by the people, have a term of three years and those in the Senate, which is elected by members of the House, a term of seven years. Adversely, the New Jersey Plan does not give a specific term period but does seem to determine the term length at a later date. The legislature under the New Jersey Plan represents the states instead of the people like in the Virginia Plan.

Congressional powers do differ between the two plans. In the Virginia Plan, the legislature has the same powers that were given to them under the Articles of the Confederation as well as have the power to negate any problems that the individual states cannot handle on their own. They also have veto power over the states and the plan does not allow the Senate to originate money bills. Basically under the Virginia Plan, the Federal government has many more powers than under the New Jersey, or small state plan. Under the New Jersey Plan, no more rights are given to the Federal legislature. The New Jersey Plan gives the federal government very few powers and most powers to the state government. Under this plan, the federal government cannot revise laws either. It is obvious that the New Jersey plan favored states’ rights over a large federal government.

The executive branch exists in both plans, but with some differences. The first similarity between the two is that the executive branch is chosen by the Legislature. The Virginia Plan the Executive branch would consist of one leader who would serve a 7 year term. The leader would have the power to execute national laws and appoint certain offices within the government. The executive leader could also be impeached if he abused his power in any way. Conversely, the leader can veto laws that were passed within both the House and with two-thirds approval of the Senate. The New Jersey Plan allows the executive branch, which is not necessary defined as one person, to appoint judges top the Supreme Tribunal. The plan does not allow the executive to serve more than one term and calls for executives of each state, which hold the power to remove the Federal Executive if they see fit to do so. The New Jersey Plan does not let the federal executive be in control of military troops at any time.

The judicial branch also exists in both plans. In the Virginia Plan, the judges of the National Judiciary are appointed by the Senate but in the New Jersey Plan, they are appointed by the executive branch. The national Legislature is allowed to appoint inferior judges under the Virginia Plan. Another big difference between plans in reference to the judicial branch is that the New Jersey Plan gave the Judiciary branch the power to impeach whereas in the Virginia Plan, the Legislature is in charge of impeachment. All foreign affairs are handled by the judicial branch in the New Jersey Plan.

By reviewing thoughtfully both plans, it is obvious that the Virginia Plan provides more power to the Federal government. It joins the nation together by electing officials by population and do not give all states equal representation. On the other hand, the New Jersey Plan gives more powers to the states because each state is equally represented regardless of population. The Virginia Plan calls for all states to be bound to the Articles of the Union first and foremost while the New Jersey Plan gives few rights to the Federal government. Although both plans give a three branch federal government, the New Jersey Plan gives state officials much more power that the Virginia Plan and the legislature has little power over the states either.