Why was the Electoral College Created? Paterson’s plan, also known as the New Jersey Plan, envisioned a supreme court, a unicameral legislature with a one-state, one-vote provision, and divided executive power between two presidents, appointed by the legislature and serving separate terms, who had no veto power. The New Jersey Plan granted Congress the ability to tax and regulate trade. Historians have characterized this plan as the “small state” response to the Virginia Plan.

Why was the Electoral College Created?

Yet, the “large state” and “small state” designations suffer from conceptual misinterpretations. Madison’s motive in basing representation in each house of Congress on population was not, as is often suggested, to increase the power of Virginia. He intended to decrease the power of the states vis-à-vis the new federal government. Madison was, at this point, a nationalist. He was troubled by the factionalism in his home state, in which men like Patrick Henry were power-brokers. Removing that power, as he mentioned in Federalist No. 10, would lead to a greater good. In contrast, Paterson and the rest of the New Jersey delegation believed they had no authority to scrap the existing Articles. Paterson was not an Anti-Federalist, he was not opposed to increasing the power of the central government, but he also firmly held that the states must remain equal partners in the Union, and he believed that most people agreed with him.


Hot weather, and the hot tempers the two proposals produced led to a recess in July. When the delegates returned, the more moderate men in the Convention started to carry the proceedings, and the compromises began. Madison’s plan would be implemented with alterations. The new government would have a bicameral legislature with a lower house based on population and an upper house that maintained the equality of the states. The executive and judiciary would be separate branches and each would be checked by another branch. These “checks and balances” were supposed to provide safeguards against tyranny. The president would not be popularly elected as some wished, nor would he be chosen by the federal Congress or by the state legislatures, but by a new entity called the Electoral College, which both emphasized the role of the states and granted a moderated democratic element to the election of the president.

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