The Virginia Plan was a proposal of changes to the Articles of Confederation introduced by Virginia delegates at a 1787 meeting of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Written in large part by James Madison, the Virginia Plan contained many of the provisions that were later included in the Constitution, which replaced the Articles of Confederation.
The proposals in the Virginia Plan went far beyond the conventions mandate to revise the existing Articles of Confederation, which many considered to be ineffectual, and set the agenda for the debate at the convention. The Virginia Plan is notable for proposing a national government consisting of three branches -- an executive, a legislative, and a judicial -- as well a legislature with seats allocated by population.
1. Resolved, That the articles of the confederation ought to be so corrected and enlarged, as to accomplish the objects proposed by their institution, namely, common defence, security of liberty, and general welfare.
2. Resolved, therefore, that the right of suffrage, in the national legislature, ought to be proportioned to the quotas of contribution, or to the number of free inhabitants, as the one or the other may seem best, in different cases.
3. Resolved, That the national legislature ought to consist of two branches.
4. Resolved, That the members of the first branch of the national legislature ought to be elected by the people of the several States, every _______ for the term of ______ to be of the age of years at least; to receive liberal stipends, by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to public service; to be ineligible to any office established by a particular State, or under the authority of the United States (except those peculiarly belonging to the functions of the first branch) during the term of service and for the space of ______ after its expiration; to be incapable of reselection for the space of _____ after the expiration of their term of service,; and to be subject to recal.
5. Resolved, That the members of the second branch of the national legislature ought to be elected by those of the first, out of a proper number of persons nominated by the individual legislatures; to be of ______ the age of years, at least; to hold their offices for a term sufficient to ensure their independency; to receive liberal stipends, by which they may be compensated for the devotion of their time to the public service; and to be ineligible to any office established by a particular State, or under the authority of the United States, (except those peculiarly belonging to the functions of the second branch) during the term of service; and for the space of ______ after the expiration thereof.
6. Resolved, That each branch ought to possess the right of originating acts; that the national legislature ought to be empowered to enjoy the legislative right vested in congress, by the confederation; and moreover to legislate in all cases to which the separate States are incompetent, or in which the harmony of the United States may be interrupted by the exercise of individual legislation; to negative all laws passed by the several States, contravening in the opinion of the national legislature, the articles of union, or any treaty subsisting under the authority of the union; and to call forth the force of the union against any member of the union failing to fulfil its duty under the articles thereof.
7. Resolved, That a national executive be instituted, to be chosen by the national legislature for the term of _______ years, to receive punctually, at stated times, a fixed compensation for the services rendered, in which no increase or diminution shall be made, so as to affect the magistracy existing at the time of the increase or diminution; to be ineligible a second time; and that, besides a general authority to execute the national laws, it ought to enjoy the executive rights vested in congress by the confederation.
8. Resolved, That the executive, and a convenient number of the national judiciary, ought to compose a council of revision, with authority to examine every act of the national legislature, before it shall operate, and every act of a particular legislature before a negative thereon shall be final; and that the dissent of the said council shall amount to a rejection, unless the act of the national legislature be again passed, or that of a particular legislature be again negatived by _____ of the members of each branch.
9. Resolved, That a national judiciary be established to hold their offices during good behavior, and to receive punctually, at stated times, fixed compensations for their services, in which no increase or diminution shall be made, so as to affect the person actually in office at the time of such increase or diminution- That the jurisdiction of the inferior tribunals shall be, to hear and determine, in the first instance, and of the supreme tribunal to hear and determine, in the dernier resort, all piracies and felonies on the high seas; captures from an enemy; cases in which foreigners, or citizens of other States, applying to such jurisdictions, may be interested, or which respect the collection of the national revenue; impeachments of any national officer; and questions which involve the national peace or harmony.
10. Resolved, That provision ought to be made for the admission of States, lawfully arising within the limits of the United States, whether from a voluntary junction of government and territory, or otherwise, with the consent of a number of voices in the national legislature less than the whole.
11. Resolved, That a republican government, and the territory of each State (except in the instance of a voluntary junction of government and territory) ought to be guaranteed by the United States to each State.
12. Resolved, That provision ought to be made for the continuance of a congress, and their authorities and privileges, until a given day, after the reform of the articles of union shall be adopted, and for the completion of all their engagements.
13. That provision ought to be made for the amendment of the articles of union whensoever it shall seem necessary; and that the assent of the national legislature ought not to be required thereto.
14. Resolved, That the legislative, executive, and judiciary powers within the several States, ought to be bound by oath to support the articles of union.
15. Resolved, That the amendments, which shall be offered to the confederation by the convention, ought, at a proper time or times, after the approbation of congress, to be submitted to an assembly or assemblies of representatives, recommended by the several legislatures, to be expressly chosen by the people to consider and decide thereon.