Good Example Of Essay On Document Analysis: Virginia And New Jersey Constitution Proposals
This paper compares for analysis purposes two documents defining the constitutional proposals for a national government, submitted at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 from Virginia and New Jersey respectively. For Virginia the proposals are those attributed to a Mr Randolph, and for New Jersey to a Mr Patterson.
The Virginia Plan recommends the government comprise three principal elements: the supreme legislature, the executive and the judiciary. The New Jersey Plan proposes a federal executive and a judiciary. As for the proposed number of houses in Congress, the Virginia Plan specifies two branches. The New Jersey Plan does not specify in this regard, so implying a single house. The New Jersey document specifies that Congress should elect the federal Executive, but does not specify the number of years they should serve, whereas Mr Randolph for Virginia proposes that the congressional members of the first branch of the national legislature should be elected by the peoples of the States and for a term of three years. Regarding the second branch, the Virginia proposals specify election of members should be by the individual State legislatures and for a term of seven years.
Differences in Congressional Representation:
The basis of determination of State members of Congress in the New Jersey proposals includes restrictions on members holding any other office during their service and for (--) years afterwards, and to be ineligible to be elected for a second term. Furthermore, any member could be removed from Congress by a majority vote. The Virginia proposals cover this issue in a similar manner for the first branch of the legislature, specifying also that Congress members cannot hold other offices during their term or for one year afterwards. For the second branch, the Virginia proposals specify a minimum age for members of 30 years. As for the first branch, members cannot hold other offices during their term or for one year afterwards.
With regard to the issue of votes by States in Congress, the New Jersey proposals cover this issue, but specify that a minimum of (--) States is needed in a vote (number left blank in the source document). The Virginia proposals specify (for both branches of the legislature), that there needs to be two thirds of the members in favor to carry a vote.
The New Jersey proposals cover the general authority to implement federal Acts. For Virginia, Mr Randolph’s proposals also cover the general implementation of federal Acts, but include legislating in instances where legislation by individual States is considered would be either incompetent or of a nature that would jeopardize national unity. Furthermore, the Virginia proposals include the right of the national legislature to prevent any State legislation that would be counter to the articles of the Union or of any treaties existing under te Union’s authority.
In both the New Jersey and Virginia documents, the federal government is deemed superior in powers to those of the State legislatures.
Executive Branch Composition and Powers:
The New Jersey proposals suggest a federal Executive comprising (---) individuals (number left blank) be elected by Congress, and with powers to implement federal Acts and to appoint officers. Powers to be vested in the Executive specifically mention the power to direct all military operations, but exclude the right to personally command troops. Virginia recommends a National Executive (just one individual), to be elected by the National Legislature, to have powers to implement federal Acts and to appoint officers. In addition, the Virginia proposals give the Executive the power to veto any legislation, which cannot then be passed subsequently unless it receives a two-thirds majority vote in both branches of the National Legislature. Both the New Jersey and the Virginia proposals give Congress the power to remove the Executive in certain circumstances.
Judicial Branch – Supreme and Other Courts:
The New Jersey proposals for the federal Judiciary comprise what it calls a supreme Tribunal with judges appointed by the Executive. There is no mention of other courts in the New Jersey proposals. For Virginia, Mr Randolph also proposes a supreme Tribunal with judges chosen by the second branch of the National Legislature, which shall also have the power to appoint what it calls inferior Tribunals (lower courts). There is no further detail – in either plan – on the composition or design of those lower courts.
Power to the Federal Government:
Comparing the New Jersey and Virginia proposals with regard to the respective amounts of power assigned to the federal government, the New Jersey proposals go into more specific details on the scope of tax collection and revenues in general. The details provide specific scope of citizens who shall be taxed and the ability to force States to collect taxes if they fail to do so. Those details in the New Jersey proposals also cover regulations for both national and international trade, postage rates, fines and other penalties.
However, both the New Jersey and the Virginia proposals include specific provisions for individual States to be bound by the articles of Confederation, implying subservience to the federal government. Overall, there seems little significant difference between the two plans in respect of the assignment of federal powers, even though there is more detail of some aspects in the New Jersey plan.
(Word count including Title, etc: 885 words)