Features and Similarities Between The Virginia and New Jersey Plans

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About this sample


Words: 713 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jul 3, 2023

Words: 713|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jul 3, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Key Features of the Virginia and the New Jersey Plans
  2. Similarities Between the Virginia and New Jersey Plans
  3. Conclusion

The Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan were two significant proposals put forward during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which aimed to establish a framework for the government of the United States. These plans differed in their approach to representation and the structure of the legislature, highlighting the competing interests and concerns of the states.

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Key Features of the Virginia and the New Jersey Plans

The Virginia Plan, also known as the Large State Plan, was drafted by James Madison and presented by Edmund Randolph. It advocated for a bicameral legislature with representation based on population. The Virginia Plan was based on a national and state government system with a Separation of Powers consisting of legislative, executive, and judicial branches. A bicameral legislature (two houses) consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate would feature proportional representation. The Virginia Plan was presented in the form of fifteen resolutions that detailed reasons why the Articles of Confederation should be radically altered and planform a strong National Government that could collect taxes and make and enforce laws. The Virginia Plan also consisted of having a very powerful congress created of two legislatures that were based on proportional population, congressional power to veto any law and one executive chosen by congress. The executive would have the power to executive national laws and turn down any legislative act that cannot be passed after unless two thirds of legislature votes on it. The key features of the Virginia Plan were as follows:

  • Strong National Government: The plan proposed a powerful central government with expanded legislative, executive, and judicial branches, granting more authority to the national government compared to the existing Articles of Confederation.
  • Proportional Representation: Representation in the legislature would be based on each state's population or wealth, favoring larger states. This approach aimed to ensure that states with higher populations had a greater say in the legislative process.
  • Separation of Powers: The Virginia Plan emphasized a clear separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches to prevent the concentration of authority.

James Madison was the creator of the Virginia Plan that brought up ideas of a national republic but eventually William Paterson created the New Jersey Plan to try to turn away from a radical plan. It was not successful and was the cause of the divisions between the delegates. In the Virginia Plan there would be a bicameral legislature because it would support the proportional representation . There was a balance of power because congress had the right to veto the laws made by the legislators. The New Jersey plan was different because it would consist of a unicameral national legislation and there would be an equal number of representatives. It was congress's job to tax the citizens and to regulate trade. The key features of the New Jersey Plan were as follows:

  • Unicameral Legislature: Unlike the Virginia Plan, the New Jersey Plan advocated for a unicameral legislature, where each state would have an equal vote regardless of its population size. This approach aimed to protect the interests of smaller states and prevent domination by larger states.
  • Retention of State Sovereignty: The plan sought to maintain the essence of the Articles of Confederation, preserving the states' powers and ensuring that the central government would not infringe upon them.

Similarities Between the Virginia and New Jersey Plans

Despite their significant differences, the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan shared some similarities:

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  • Three-Branch Government: Both plans acknowledged the importance of separating powers into three branches – legislative, executive, and judicial – to prevent tyranny and ensure a system of checks and balances.
  • National Authority: Both plans recognized the necessity of a stronger central government compared to the weak authority under the Articles of Confederation.
  • Legislative Power: Both plans acknowledged the need for a legislative body to make laws for the nation, although they disagreed on the representation structure.


Ultimately, the debate between the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan led to the creation of the Great Compromise or the Connecticut Compromise. This compromise established a bicameral legislature, with the House of Representatives based on proportional representation (as per the Virginia Plan) and the Senate granting equal representation to each state (as per the New Jersey Plan). This compromise satisfied both large and small states, and it became a fundamental element of the United States Constitution.

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Cite this Essay

Features and Similarities Between the Virginia and New Jersey Plans. (2023, July 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from
“Features and Similarities Between the Virginia and New Jersey Plans.” GradesFixer, 03 Jul. 2023,
Features and Similarities Between the Virginia and New Jersey Plans. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 2 Dec. 2023].
Features and Similarities Between the Virginia and New Jersey Plans [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Jul 03 [cited 2023 Dec 2]. Available from:
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