Getting to Union

Navigating Differences in the Constitutional Convention

Part II. The Delegates Agreed to Rules that Created Space to Address Issues.

Part II. Step 2. Debate Should Be Orderly: Clearly Communicating Ideas in Writing


The delegates agreed that debate should be orderly. One way of accomplishing this included requiring proposals to be in written form before they could be debated. The Convention did most of its work by debating documents line by line, deciding what to change, agreeing to provisions, and objecting to parts that were not acceptable. Major documents were debated in this way more than once.

The process the delegates created made the following clear:

  • The issue under discussion
  • The precise proposed wording
  • Wording previously accepted
  • Wording that had been proposed, but not yet accepted
  • The right moment to raise concerns about the content or wording of a proposal


Read Transcript of Video Collapse

Prepare for Class Discussion

On your own paper, respond to the questions below.

  1. How would clearly communicating proposals in writing make it more possible to navigate differences and explore common ground?
  2. The delegates designated a time during a debate to raise concerns or object to a proposal. How can making space to hear opposing voices increase the likelihood of coming to an agreement that all the states could accept?


Learn more about how to promote the 3Rs — rights, responsibility, respect — in your school and community.