AP US Government : Constitutional Convention

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Constitutional Convention

What event led to the Constitutional Convention by demonstrating the weakness of the Articles of Confederation?

Possible Answers:

The American Revolution

The French and Indian War

The War of 1812

Shays' Rebellion

The Boston Tea Party

Correct answer:

Shays' Rebellion

Explanation:

After the U.S. became an independent nation, it drafted the Articles of Confederation as a general guideline for the colonies to run their new country. However, because the colonies had just gained freedom from a tyrannical, oppressive government, they shied away from creating a strong national government. Thus, the Articles were weak. After Shays' rebellion (an armed uprising), they knew that the Articles had to be reformed if their nation were to survive. So, they decided to form a written Constitution at the Constitutional Convention.

Example Question #2 : Constitutional Convention

The debates at the Constitutional Convention were based around a framework largely known as 

Possible Answers:

the New Jersey Plan.

the Virginia Plan.

the Pennsylvania Plan.

the Massachusetts Plan.

the South Carolina Plan.

Correct answer:

the Virginia Plan.

Explanation:

When first assembled in 1787, the Constitutional Convention had a plan for the new government issued by delegate Edmund Randolph of Virginia. The Virginia Plan, which advocated a multi-tiered legislature based on total population, became the framework for all subsequent debates at the Convention. The Virginia Plan was countered by the New Jersey Plan, which advocated for all states to have equal representation, leading to the compromise of a lower house based on population and an upper house with each state having equal representation.

Example Question #3 : Constitutional Convention

Which of the following was NOT a problem with the Articles of Confederation that the 1787 Constitutional Convention sought to fix?

Possible Answers:

A lack of enforcement mechanisms for requests from the Federal government.

An inability to effectively raise national taxes.

An ability for states to completely ignore national laws.

An inability to raise a national army to put down local uprisings.

An inability for state governments to move out of the yoke of federal laws.

Correct answer:

An inability for state governments to move out of the yoke of federal laws.

Explanation:

The Articles of Confederation was a loose assemblage of the thirteen different states of the newly independent United States of America. With one representative from each state in Congress and few enforcement mechanisms, states were completely free to ignore federal laws regarding taxation, trade, or raising of armies. The 1787 Constitutional Convention was held to fix many of these issues, especially in light of events like Shays' Rebellion and financial crises.

Example Question #4 : Constitutional Convention

During the Constitutional Convention to draw up and ratify the Constitution, the state of New York would have most likely __________.

Possible Answers:

favored the Virginia Plan and supported counting slaves as citizens for purposes of representation

favored the New Jersey Plan, but opposed counting slaves as citizens for purposes of representation

favored the New Jersey Plan and supported counting slaves as citizens for purposes of representation

favored the Virginia Plan, but opposed counting slaves as citizens for purposes of representation

favored the New Jersey Plan on the condition that slavery be abolished in the Union

Correct answer:

favored the Virginia Plan, but opposed counting slaves as citizens for purposes of representation

Explanation:

At the Constitutional Convention, there were disagreements on how the Legislative Branch should be established. The big states, like New York and Virginia, favored a directly proportional representation structure based on the population of each state—this plan was called the Virginia Plan; whereas smaller states, like New Jersey, favored a system whereby each state would have equal representation in Congress regardless of the size of it’s population. This disagreement was remedied through the Connecticut Compromise, which established a bicameral legislature with a lower and upper house. This created a House of Representatives based on the population of each state, and a Senate, where each state has equal membership, regardless of population size. Additionally, the Framers could not agree on how to count slaves for the purposes of representation. New York, a free state, would have favored not counting slaves as citizens for purposes of representation in order to limit the ability of the South to affect government policy. This issue was remedied by the Three-fifths Compromise, which stated that each slave counted for three-fifths of a person for the sake of representation.

Example Question #5 : Constitutional Convention

The Northwest Ordinance __________.

Possible Answers:

defined the original process by which new states could be admitted to the Union

set aside certain lands to be reserved for Native Americans

completely prohibited the extension of slavery into any states that might come from the newly acquired Northwest territories

encouraged the extension of slavery into the newly acquired Northwest territories

formally declared war on Britain and began the War of 1812

Correct answer:

defined the original process by which new states could be admitted to the Union

Explanation:

The Northwest Ordinance took place during the Articles of Confederation. It is considered by many historians to have had the most lasting impact of this period of American history. The Ordinance defined the original process by which new states could be admitted into the Union. It prohibited slavery in the territories, but allowed the states to vote on the issue of slavery once they joined the union.

Example Question #6 : Constitutional Convention

Article 5 of the Constitution is focused on __________.

Possible Answers:

setting the Constitution as the supreme law of the nation

delineating the powers reserved for the states

establishing limits on the power of the Legislative Branch

outlining the powers that are to be reserved for the Executive Branch

establishing the process by which amendments can be approved and ratified

Correct answer:

establishing the process by which amendments can be approved and ratified

Explanation:

Article 5 of the United States Constitution is concerned with establishing the process by which amendments can be proposed and ratified to alter the laws in the Constitution. An amendment, according to the Constitution, can be adopted and sent to the states for approval in one of the following ways: a two-thirds majority of the Senate and House; a two-thirds vote in a national convention of the states. To become part of the Constitution, it must then be passed by three-fourths of the states at a state ratifying convention.

Example Question #6 : Constitutional Convention

The Connecticut Compromise primarily concerned __________.

Possible Answers:

the demise of the Federalist Party and the culmination of the War of 1812

how slaves were to be counted for representation purposes in the legislature

the extension of slavery into the territories and the rights of escaped slaves in the North

the nature of the Legislative Branch of government and the representation accorded the various states

the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and the rejection of the Constitution

Correct answer:

the nature of the Legislative Branch of government and the representation accorded the various states

Explanation:

The Connecticut Compromise was part of the debate on the ratification of the Constitution and the construction of the new Legislative Branch. The Compromise created a bicameral legislature in the United States with a lower and an upper house. The lower house would have proportional representation for each state based on its population, whereas the upper house would have an equal number of representatives for each state. The lower house was called The House of Representatives and the upper house was called The Senate.

Example Question #8 : Constitutional Convention

Which of these states would have been most likely to support the New Jersey Plan for congressional representation?

Possible Answers:

California

North Carolina

Delaware

Virginia

New York

Correct answer:

Delaware

Explanation:

The New Jersey Plan, as opposed to the Virginia Plan, called for a creation of a unicameral legislature in which each state has one vote to use in the enactment of laws. The Virginia Plan wanted proportional representation so that states with a greater population would have a greater say in the direction of the country. Logically it follows that the smaller states would have been much more likely to support the New Jersey plan. California was not a state at the time of this debate, and New York, Virginia, and North Carolina were three of the most populous states in the union. So the correct answer is Delaware.

Example Question #52 : Constitution And Government Foundations

What was the Connecticut Compromise?

Possible Answers:

The compromise that decided to use the New Jersey Plan rather than the Connecticut Plan

The compromise that decided to create a unicameral legislature with apportionment based off of population

The compromise that decided to use the Virginia Plan rather than the Connecticut Plan

The compromise that decided to create a unicameral legislature with equal apportionment among the states

The compromise that created a bicameral legislature with apportionment based off of elements of both the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan.

Correct answer:

The compromise that created a bicameral legislature with apportionment based off of elements of both the Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan.

Explanation:

This is a slightly tricky question purely based off of the competing answers. The Connecticut (or Great) Compromise essentially took elements of the Virginia Plan and elements of the New Jersey Plan, and smashed them together.

The Virginia Plan advocated, among other things, a bicameral legislature of which both chambers would be apportioned based off of population. The lower chamber would be elected by the people of each state, and then the upper chamber would be selected through a two-step process: (1) each state legislature would nominate candidates and (2) the lower chamber would elect the upper chamber from the list generated by the lower. This arrangement favored big states, as it was based purely off of population (remember: at the time, VA was considered a large state, population-wise).

The New Jersey Plan, on the other hand, took a rather dim view of the whole apportionment-by-population thing, and essentially advocated for a unicameral legislature where each state was given an equal number of delegates, regardless of size (essentially, it was a reaffirmation of the Articles of Confederation, just with some tweaks here and there).

The Great Compromise took elements of both to form the government that we have today, as follows: the lower chamber (the House) was to be apportioned based off of the population of each of the states (VA Plan), and the upper chamber (the Senate) was to be equally divided regardless of population of each of the states (NJ Plan).

Example Question #10 : Constitutional Convention

Which of the following plans proposed proportional representation in both the House of Representatives and the Senate?

Possible Answers:

New Jersey

Ohio

Virginia

Connecticut

Rhode Island

Correct answer:

Virginia

Explanation:

Virginia as one of the most populous stats at the time proposed that both houses of congress, representation would be based on population. New Jersey proposed equal representation. Connecticut proposed one house based on population and another on equality. Ohio wasn't a state yet, and Rhode Island did not send delegates to the Constitutional Convention.

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