The first phase of the convention lasted from May 25 to July 26. The delegates developed the general outlines of a national government. They agreed to create a government with three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. James Madison was the strongest supporter of this type of government. He would later become known as the "Father of the Constitution."
The delegates, however, were divided over how the states should be represented in the legislative branch—the Congress. Three plans were put forward.
The Virginia Plan called for a bicameral (two-house) legislature—an upper house (Senate) and a lower house (House of Representatives). Representation in both houses would be according to each state’s population. This proposal clearly favored the larger states.
The New Jersey Plan provided for a unicameral (one-house) legislature. In this plan, all the states would be represented equally.
The Connecticut Compromise settled the issue. It called for a bicameral legislature. It gave the states equal representation in the Senate. And it based representation in the House of Representatives on population.
The second phase of the convention lasted from July 27 to August 6. During this phase, a five-man Committee of Detail drew up a rough draft of the Constitution.
During the third phase (August 6–September 6), the delegates debated the committee's draft. They fought over conflicting interests. There were, for example, conflicts between commerce and agriculture. There were conflicts between slaveholders and others.
The most controversial issue was the composition of the executive branch and the means of electing the chief executive (president). This was settled on September 6 with the adoption of the electoral college. It had been suggested by Benjamin Franklin.
The last phase of the convention was mainly the work of the Committee on Style, headed by Gouverneur Morris. This group of delegates put the document in finished form.