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Freedom: A History of US.
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Webisode 2: Revolution
Introduction Segment 1 Segment 2 Segment 3 Segment 4 Segment 5 Segment 6 Segment 7 Segment 8 Segment 9

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The Constitution
Segment 5
Signing the Constitution Miracle in Philadelphia

There was one issue on which everyone at the Constitutional Convention was stubborn, and it had to do with the new government's legislative branch—the Congress. The original plan said that the number of congressmen each state would have should be decided by population. That meant that the states with the most people would have the most congressmen. The opposing plan said that each state should have an equal number of representatives. That meant that Delaware, with 59,000 people, would have the same number of congressmen as Virginia, with almost 692,000. Was that fair? Neither side would budge. And then Roger Sherman See It Now - Roger Sherman of Connecticut came up with a compromise. This is what he suggested: One house of the legislature should reflect a state's population—the House of Representatives. One house should have an equal number of representatives from each state—the Senate. That was the most important compromise. And that simple solution meant there would be a constitution. On September 12, 1787, the final wording of the Constitution was presented to the convention See It Now - The Constitution. It began like this: Hear It Now  - Preamble to the Constitution "We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America Check The Source - The Constitution."

But when the framers said "We the people," did they really mean all the people? Most experts say no. They say the Founders didn't mean Native Americans See It Now - An Indian Chief's Widow, who were thought to be part of separate "nations." And they certainly didn't mean slaves. The South was not ready to give up slavery, and the southern states would not approve a constitution that eliminated it. So the delegates compromised. And though women were thought of as part of the people, citizenship—including the vote—was not extended to them.


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Did You Know?
Some Native Americans began their treaties with the phrase "we the people."


Three delegates to the Constitutional Convention—Edmund Randolph, George Mason, and Elbridge Gerry—refused to sign the Constitution.


Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?



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