The Constitutional Convention as a Four-Act Drama: Act 1

On September 9, 2015
This course consists of four session, each rooted in a video presentation by Dr. Lloyd in front of a teacher audience, focused on a specific topic and drawing from a selection of relevant documents.
Each session’s post includes a list of Scenes within the given Act, with dates listed within each Scene – this helps expand on the metaphor of the Constitutional Convention as a drama. Most every day includes a link to information about what happened on that day, mostly drawn from Madison’s Debates, the most comprehensive and accurate record of the Convention.
As you watch the video for each session, take notes on Dr. Lloyd’s insights about the Convention, the contributions of different delegates, topics discussed, and decisions made. Then expand on your notes by going through the different documents linked from the post. This way, you’ll learn directly from Dr. Lloyd, and you’ll clearly see where his ideas are found in the documents.
Scene 1: Prologue
  • May 14 Constitutional Convention lacks necessary quorum
  • May 21 Connecticut selects three delegates (William Johnson, Roger Sherman, and Oliver Ellsworth)
  • May 25 Constitutional Convention meets quorum requirement
  • May 28 Committee on Rules Reports rules for Convention
Scene 2: The 15 Resolutions of the Virginia Plan
  • May 29 Virginia Plan introduced and defended by Edmund Randolph
Scene 3: First Discussion of the Virginia Plan
  • May 30 Resolution 1 amended
  • May 31 Resolutions 2 – 6 discussed and 5a defeated
  • June 1 Debated and postponed Resolution 7 on the Presidency
  • June 2 Further lengthy deliberation of Resolution 7
  • June 4 Council of Revision clause of Resolution 8 postponed
  • June 5 Consideration of Resolutions 9 – 15
Scene 4: Madison-Sherman Exchange
  • June 6 Are people “more happy in small than large States?” Should Resolution 4a be adopted?
Scene 5: Second Discussion of the Virginia Plan
  • June 7 How to fill “the chasm” created by defeat of Resolution 5a
  • June 8 Resolution 6 and the negative on State laws
  • June 9 Reconsideration of Resolution 7
Scene 6: The 19 Resolutions of the Amended Virginia Plan
  • June 11 Popular representation in both branches? Sherman’s compromise
  • June 12 The specifics of representation
  • June 13 Virginia Plan amended
Scene 7: The 9 Resolutions of the New Jersey Plan Discussed
  • June 14 John Dickinson to Madison: “you see the consequences of pushing things too far.”
  • June 15 New Jersey Plan introduced
  • June 16 The plan is “legal” and “practical”
Scene 8: The 11 Resolutions of Hamilton’s Plan Presented
  • June 18 Neither the Virginia Plan nor the New Jersey Plan is adequate to secure “good government”
Scene 9: Decision Day: Adoption of the Amended Virginia Plan
  • June 19 New Jersey Plan rejected (3 – 7 – 1)

Session 9: The Proposed Constitution of 1787 and Its Defense in The Federalist Papers


Session 10: The Federalist Papers – The Sum of Power and the Separation of Powers

Join your fellow teachers in exploring America’s history.