Jeremy C. Pope is Assistant Professor of Political Science and a Research Fellow, Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, Brigham Young University, 745 Spencer W. Kimball Tower, Provo, UT 84602 (email@example.com). Shawn Treier is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Minnesota, 1414 Social Science Building, 267 19th Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55455 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Reconsidering the Great Compromise at the Federal Convention of 1787: Deliberation and Agenda Effects on the Senate and Slavery
Article first published online: 13 JAN 2011
©2011, Midwest Political Science Association
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 55, Issue 2, pages 289–306, April 2011
How to Cite
Pope, J. C. and Treier, S. (2011), Reconsidering the Great Compromise at the Federal Convention of 1787: Deliberation and Agenda Effects on the Senate and Slavery. American Journal of Political Science, 55: 289–306. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2010.00490.x
- Issue published online: 1 APR 2011
- Article first published online: 13 JAN 2011
Conventional accounts of the Federal Convention of 1787 point to the many different compromises made at the convention, specifically the Great Compromise on representation and the Three-Fifths Compromise on slavery. Often these compromises are treated as separate events, the result of deliberation leading to moderation of delegate positions (presumably among the key states of Massachusetts and North Carolina). However, by applying the techniques of roll-call analysis, we find this traditional account is at best incomplete and probably misleading. While the Massachusetts delegation's behavior seems consistent with a moderation hypothesis, we find evidence that the other crucial vote for the Great Compromise—from North Carolina—is inconsistent with moderation, but can be linked through the agenda to the Three-Fifths Compromise over slavery, taxation, and representation. We conclude by arguing that this reconsideration of some of the convention's key votes should cause political scientists and historians to reevaluate how they see the compromises at the convention.