The New Jersey Plan – The U.S. Constitution Online – USConstitution.net

The New Jersey Plan


The Constitutional Convention was tasked
with proposing amendments to the Articles of
which would make it a more workable plan for national
government. The Convention began with the text of the Virginia Plan and Charles
Pinckney’s notes
before them, and for three weeks, the provisions were
debated. The smaller states in the union were afraid of what they were
hearing. A legislative body with delegates assigned to each state by
proportion of either land size or population would put them at a disadvantage.
Someone had to speak out for the smaller states. During a break in the
Convention, the delegates from the smaller states met and hammered out their
own plan. Notably, the plan retained the equal representation of the states in

William Peterson of New Jersey presented the plan to the Convention on June 15, 1787. The
plan became known as the New Jersey Plan. Though it included provisions that
the larger states would never agree to, it reasserted the smaller states’

Also of interest is the British Plan.

The following text was taken from the Avalon Project’s reproduction of
Madison’s notes from the Convention. The text is largely unaltered as presented
here, but spelling has been corrected and abbreviations have been expanded.

1. Resolved that the articles of Confederation ought to be so revised,
corrected and enlarged, as to render the federal Constitution adequate to the
exigencies of Government, and the preservation of the Union.

2. Resolved that in addition to the powers vested in the United States in
Congress, by the present existing articles of Confederation, they be authorized
to pass acts for raising a revenue, by levying a duty or duties on all goods or
merchandises of foreign growth or manufacture, imported into any part of the
United States, by Stamps on paper, vellum or parchment, and by a postage on all
letters or packages passing through the general post-office, to be applied to
such federal purposes as they shall deem proper and expedient; to make rules
and regulations for the collection thereof; and the same from time to time, to
alter and amend in such manner as they shall think proper: to pass Acts for the
regulation of trade and commerce as well with foreign nations as with each
other [1]: provided that all punishments, fines,
forfeitures and penalties to be incurred for contravening such acts rules and
regulations shall be adjudged by the Common law Judiciaries of the State in
which any offense contrary to the true intent and meaning of such Acts rules
and regulations shall have been committed or perpetrated, with liberty of
commencing in the first instance all suits and prosecutions for that purpose in
the superior common law Judiciary in such State, subject nevertheless, for the
correction of all errors, both in law and fact in rendering Judgment, to an
appeal to the Judiciary of the United States. [2]

3. Resolved that whenever requisitions shall be necessary, instead of the
rule for making requisitions mentioned in the articles of Confederation, the
United States in Congress assembled be authorized to make such requisitions in
proportion to the whole number of white and other free citizens and inhabitants
of every age, sex, and condition including those bound to servitude for a term
of years and three fifths of all other persons not comprehended in the
foregoing description, except Indians not paying taxes [3]; that if such requisitions be not complied with, in
the time specified therein, to direct the collection thereof in the non
complying States and for that purpose to devise and pass acts directing and
authorizing the same; provided that none of the powers hereby vested in the
United States in Congress assembled shall be exercised without the consent of
at least — States, and in that proportion if the number of Confederated
States should hereafter be increased or diminished [4].

4. Resolved that the United States in Congress assembled be authorized to
elect a federal Executive to consist of — persons, to continue in office
for the term of — years, to receive punctually at stated times a fixed
compensation for their services, in which no increase or diminution shall be
made so as to affect the persons composing the Executive at the time of such
increase or diminution, to be paid out of the federal treasury; to be incapable
of holding any other office or appointment during their time of service and for
— years thereafter; to be ineligible a second time, and removable by
Congress on application by a majority of the Executives of the several States;
that the Executives, besides their general authority to execute the federal
acts, ought to appoint all federal officers not otherwise provided for, and to
direct all military operations; provided that none of the persons composing the
federal Executive shall on any occasion take command of any troops, so as
personally to conduct any enterprise as General or in other capacity. [5]

5. Resolved that a federal Judiciary be established to consist of a supreme
Tribunal the Judges of which to be appointed by the Executive, and to hold
their offices during good behavior, to receive punctually at stated times a
fixed compensation for their services in which no increase or diminution shall
be made, so as to affect the persons actually in office at the time of such
increase or diminution; that the Judiciary so established shall have authority
to hear and determine in the first instance on all impeachments of federal
officers, and by way of appeal in the dernier resort in all cases touching the
rights of Ambassadors, in all cases of captures from an enemy, in all cases of
piracies and felonies on the high Seas, in all cases in which foreigners may be
interested, in the construction of any treaty or treaties, or which may arise
on any of the Acts for regulation of trade, or the collection of the federal
Revenue: that none of the Judiciary shall during the time they remain in office
be capable of receiving or holding any other office or appointment during their
time of service, or for — thereafter. [6]

6. Resolved that all Acts of the United States in Congress assembled made by
virtue and in pursuance of the powers hereby and by the articles of
Confederation vested in them, and all Treaties made and ratified under the
authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the respective
States so far forth as those Acts or Treaties shall relate to the said States
or their Citizens, and that the Judiciary of the several States shall be bound
thereby in their decisions, any thing in the respective laws of the Individual
States to the contrary notwithstanding [7]; and that if any State, or any body of
men in any State shall oppose or prevent the carrying into execution such acts
or treaties, the federal Executive shall be authorized to call forth the power
of the Confederated States, or so much thereof as may be necessary to enforce
and compel an obedience to such Acts, or an observance of such Treaties.

7. Resolved that provision be made for the admission of new States into the
Union. [8]

8. Resolved the rule for naturalization ought to be the same in every State.

9. Resolved that a Citizen of one State committing an offense in another
State of the Union, shall be deemed guilty of the same offense as if it had
been committed by a Citizen of the State in which the offense was
committed. [10]


1. Many of the powers listed here, including the power to
levy a duty on imports, to use post office revenue for the national treasury,
and to regulate foreign trade appear in the Constitution at Article 1, Section 8.

2. The establishment of a national judiciary was seen as a
key change to the Articles. See Article 3, Section

3. Non payment of state assessments was a major problem for
the Congress; the ability to demand payment on a per capita basis is found in
the Constitution at Article 1, Section 2,
where representatives and direct taxes are apportioned by population. Despite
all the concern about direct taxes, history has not borne out their importance
for revenue rasing.

4. This is one of the few places where a diminution of
the number of states is contemplated.

5. The executive in this plan was seen as a multi-person
organization, with several checks on power, including a term limit and removal
by Congress when requested by the executives of the states. The power of
commander-in-chief was granted, but the plan did not want the any of the
members of the executive actually commanding troops on the battlefield.

6. Rounding out the three branches of government, the
judicial branch is similar in some details to the federal judiciary of the
Constitution. The plan did not provide for lower courts, just a Supreme
Tribunal, appointed for life by the Executive. The original jurisdiction of
the Tribunal is similar, though expanded in places and diminished in others,
than that of the Supreme Court (see Article 1,
Section 2

7. Compare this to the Supremacy Clause of Article 6. This section gives the national government
teeth to enforce its supremacy clause that the Constitution does not

8. See Article 4, Section

9. See Article 1, Section
, Clause 4.

10. See Article 4, Section
, Clause 2.

Most notably, the New Jersey Plan does not propose any structural changes to
the Congress, let alone address the concerns of the large states in terms of