Connecticut

Roger Sherman Offers a Connecticut Compromise

Roger Sherman, 1868, by Ralph Earl

The Connecticut compromise helped make the summer of 1787 a successful one. As the 1787 Constitutional Convention moved into July, it was at a stall, trying to assess whether to create a legislature in which each state had the same number of votes, or whether larger states should have more votes and smaller states have fewer votes.

Virginia, the most heavily populated of the colonies, not surprisingly favored votes weighted by population. New Jerseyans, and other smaller colonies, preferred a one-state, one-vote approach.

Roger Sherman, 1868, by Ralph Earl

Roger Sherman, 1868, by Ralph Earlecic

Deadlocked, the congress appointed a committee to come up with a plan during a short recess, and on July 3rd Connecticut's Roger Sherman is credited with putting forward the "Connecticut compromise," which survives to this day.

The idea, familiar to any schoolchild today, was that one arm of the legislature, the lower house, should have a makeup proportionate to each state's size, while each state would have equal representation in the upper house.

The idea won the support of Pennsylvania's Benjamin Franklin, though he wanted all votes that dealt with spending money carried out on a proportional basis. The compromise would be put to the entire convention on July 16, and approved by a single vote -- without Franklin's proposed wrinkle.

Sherman has the distinction of being the only person to sign all four great documents of the American Revolution: the Continental Association of 1774, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the United States.

He would go on to represent Connecticut in in both of the houses he helped create, the House of Representatives and the Senate, which he was a member of at the time of his death in 1793.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Nancy Wallace Powell

    Nancy Wallace Powell

    July 3, 2014 at 7:42 am

    This picture is of my ancestor. He and others pulled together and established a system of government from thirteen fractious states. Regrettably, it was done without input from large segments of the population; African Americans, women, non property owners etc. The times are less dangerous now but maybe no less fractious. We have the great resources of the excluded groups to assist. We must come together and acknowledge out differences before we can attempt to fix current issues. And yes, he was a very religious man and his principles were based on those religious values. But he worked with deists and non believers. Thomas Jefferson said, ““That is Mr. Sherman of Connecticut, a man who has never said a foolish thing in his life.” If those two men worked together, certainly we can.

  2. Nancy Wallace Powell

    Nancy Wallace Powell

    July 3, 2014 at 7:42 am

    This picture is of my ancestor. He and others pulled together and established a system of government from thirteen fractious states. Regrettably, it was done without input from large segments of the population; African Americans, women, non property owners etc. The times are less dangerous now but maybe no less fractious. We have the great resources of the excluded groups to assist. We must come together and acknowledge out differences before we can attempt to fix current issues. And yes, he was a very religious man and his principles were based on those religious values. But he worked with deists and non believers. Thomas Jefferson said, ““That is Mr. Sherman of Connecticut, a man who has never said a foolish thing in his life.” If those two men worked together, certainly we can.

  3. Bill Gobeille

    Bill Gobeille

    July 3, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Mr. Adams, but, Mr. Adams
    I cannot write with any style or proper etiquette
    I don’t know a participle from a predicate
    I am just a simple cobbler from Connecticut
    “1776”

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