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Lesson 12: How Did the Delegates Distribute Powers between National and State Governments?

Lesson Purpose

The relationship between national and state powers, more than any other issue, explains the need for the Constitutional Convention. This relationship was at the core of the first major debate, the one between supporters and opponents of the Virginia Plan. After forging the Great Compromise, the delegates worked out a series of other regulations and compromises that defined what the national and state governments could and could not do. Several of those compromises involved the question of slavery, the most potentially divisive issue among the states.