The United States of America was founded on the basis of compromise, but what does compromise really mean? According to the Webster's New World Dictionary compromise means an adjustment of opposing principles. Political systems use compromises in daily life. The Three Great Compromises that occurred early in this nation's government were the Connecticut Compromise, the 3/5 Compromise and finally the Commerce & Slave Trade Compromise. Were it not for these compromises the United States could still be governed under the Articles of Confederation.
The Connecticut Compromise was the most important compromise in the history of the U.S. government. The representatives from each state were going to change the government totally, from powerful state governments to a powerful central government which they vowed not to do when they declared independence from England. Rhode Island was so disgusted with the idea of changing the government that they did not even come to the meeting. Finally after all the debating and each state getting their say, they compromised on a plan where they would have two governmental houses, one being the House of Representatives and the second being the Senate, with the Senate being the stronger of the two houses. The House of Representatives was based on each state's population that is the more people in the state the more representatives that state would get. The Senate said that regardless of the state's population each state would get two representatives all with equal say.
The 3/5 Compromise was mainly about slaves. The issue in this compromise was should slaves be counted for determining representation for each state? The North did not want them to be counted because they were considered possessions, not citizens and that meant less representation for them. The South, on the other hand, wanted them to be counted because that meant that they could pass laws more beneficial to the South since they would have more representation. So they compromised and said that each slave counted 3/5 of a person.
The final compromise was the Commerce & Slave Trade Compromise. The issue here was should Congress be able to regulate trade and should the United States continue with slave trading? The North felt that Congress should control trade and put an end to slave trading. The South was fearful of Northern jealousy of Southern agriculture trade with England and the South was also wary of Congress regulating trade. The South also wished to trade slaves indefinitely. The compromise was that Congress would control trade (fairly) and the South would trade slaves for 20 more years.
The three great compromises in our history of the United States were critical to the success of the Constitution. The 3/5 Compromise, the Connecticut Compromise, and the Commerce & Slave Trade Compromise demonstrated that the Founding Fathers could reach a middle ground. These were much needed compromises, but were they effective for long term political harmony? And can Congress and the President ever compromise on a budget today?