The New Jersey Plan was proposed by William Patterson on June 15, 1787, while the Virginia Plan was proposed by Edmund Randolph on June 13, 1787. Each plan devised in an effort to come up with a structure for a new national government. In both plans, the government would be made up of three separate branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. This paper will describe (in order of the plans) the similarities, as well as the differences between these two plans.
The legislative branch differed significantly between the two plans. According to the Virginia plan, which referred to the legislative branch as the “National Legislature,” would be made up of two branches: first branch and second branch. The members of the first branch would be picked by the people and would serve a term of three years. They would also be paid by the National Treasury, and were ineligible to serve in any other office during their term. The members of the second branch would serve a term of seven years, be elected by individual state legislators, serve a term of seven years, and had to be at least 30 years of age. Like members of the first branch, the National Treasury would pay their salaries and they would not be able to serve a position in any other office or state. On the other hand, the New Jersey Plan proposed only one house, where the executive branch was in charge of electing the members.
. Tax collection was proposed by both plans to be included in the duties carried out by the legislative branch. The branch would collect taxes from states based on the “proportion to the whole number of white and other free citizens and inhabitants, of every age and sex 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.” It would also have the right veto any state laws that were in violation of any articles of the union or any treaties under the union. Under both plans, the legislative branch was able to appoint executive branch members, but the Virginia plan also gave the legislative branch the power to appoint judicial members. The Virginia Plan gave the legislative branch some additional powers: For example, it could get involved in cases where it deemed a state to be “incompetent” or in cases where they felt as though the harmony of the U.S. was compromised by any state. Conversely, the New Jersey Plan stated that the legislative branch could only exercise this right with the consent of a certain proportion of states.
The New Jersey Plan proposed a “Federal Executive” that would be made up of more than one person for an unspecified amount of time. The members would be ineligible for a second term and could not hold any other similar position for a certain amount of time after they left the office. The National Treasury would also pay them. The Federal Executive would be in charge of electing all federal officers and executing federal acts, and directing military operations (without acting directly as an officer). Finally, members of the Federal Executive could be removed from office, but only by a majority vote from states. On the other hand, the Virginia Plan proposed that the executive branch would consists of one person, which would be called the “National Executive.”
The person would serve for a total of seven years and would be ineligible for another term and could be impeached if convicted of any acts of malpractice or neglect of his assigned duties. The National Executive would implement and enforce national laws and appoint members to office. Additionally, it would have the power to oppose any legislative act unless both branches of the National Legislature were to override it with a two-thirds vote. Like the legislative branch, the National Treasury would pay the salary of the National Executive.
Under the New Jersey Plan, the executive branch would elect members of the judicial branch. The plan would would give this branch the power to impeach federal officers and hear cases that involved the collection of national revenue. In addition, they would oversee cases related to regulation of trade, capture from an enemy, treaties, and issues where foreigners and ambassadors were involved. Like the other branches, the National Treasury would be in charge of salaries for the judiciary members under both plans. As for the Virginia Plan, the National Judiciary (the name given to the judicial branch) would include a supreme tribunal and inferior tribunals, whose members would all be appointed by the National Legislature. The National Judiciary would be in charge of collecting national revenue, cases involving impeachment of national officers, and any cases that would involve a threat to national peace or harmony.
The Virginia plan seems to provide more power to the new federal government, or differently stated, the New Jersey plan seems to provide the states with more power. The legislative branch seems to be more powerful under the Virginia plan (e.g., selects judicial members and has two branches). Also, the New Jersey plan gave the states several unique powers like consent in the collection of taxes and voting power when it came to the impeachment of executive branch members.