Front Page Titles (by Subject) The New Jersey Plan:Checks upon Central Power - Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government
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The New Jersey Plan:Checks upon Central Power - James McClellan, Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government 
Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the Constitutional Principles of American Government (3rd ed.) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000).
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The New Jersey Plan:Checks upon Central Power
If the delegations that united in mid-June behind the New Jersey Plan had brought forward their ideas at the beginning of the Convention, they might have prevailed over James Madison, James Wilson, and the large delegations from Virginia and Pennsylvania. For as William Paterson and his friends argued, their Plan much more nearly corresponded to the sentiments of the average American citizen than did the Virginia Plan. But as it is true in battle that the force which fires first ordinarily wins the fight, so in public discussions a great advantage is gained often by the side which speaks first and forcefully. By being introduced first, the Virginia Plan had become the basic design of the Convention before proponents of the New Jersey Plan spoke up. Put on the defensive, Paterson, Luther Martin, Oliver Ellsworth, and other critics of the Virginia Plan were able merely to modify the centralizing tendency of the Virginians’ proposal.
Shorter than the Virginia Plan, the New Jersey Plan consisted of nine resolutions, intended to improve the Articles of Confederation rather than create a new constitutional instrument. It would have given the Congress authority to raise revenues through taxes on imports, stamp taxes, and postal charges. Power to regulate commerce among the States would have been conferred upon the Congress. If the Federal government still needed more money, it could requisition funds from the several States, proportionate to each State’s population (counting three-fifths of the slaves as part of the population). Acts of Congress and treaties would have been declared the supreme law of the United States.
The New Jersey Plan would have included a Federal executive consisting of several persons (as was the Pennsylvania executive at that time), without a power of veto over acts of Congress. There would have been a United States Supreme Court, appointed by the executive, with original jurisdiction over cases of impeachment of Federal officers. The court would receive on appeal from State courts various cases affecting treaties, international and interstate trade, and collection of Federal taxes.
The New Jersey Plan would have preserved a strong influence for the smaller States in the Union, and in general tone would have made it clear that the several States were not being wholly subordinate to some central power. The Plan was supported by delegates who were alarmed at the lack of checks and balances in the Virginia design. As John Dickinson told Madison, “You see the consequences of pushing things too far.”
On June 19, the Convention made its choice on whether to proceed with the Virginia Plan or the New Jersey Plan. The Virginia Plan won with votes from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. New York, New Jersey, and Delaware voted for the New Jersey Plan. The Maryland delegation was divided.
But the apparent defeat of the New Jersey faction was not total. The victorious supporters of the Virginia Plan now saw that if they wished the delegations from all States to sign a new Constitution, they must make important concessions to their colleagues, who feared centralization and who represented the smaller States. Even more importantly, the general public would have to be assured that the majority of men at the Convention did not mean to strike down the State governments by their new instrument of national government.