Historically, compromises have been a hallmark of our democratic republic. Our Constitution and its 27 Amendments attest to the fact that members of the legislative branches of both the federal and state governments have been able to agree on complicated legislation after ample debate.

Our Constitution, which was ratified in 1789, replaced the inadequate Articles of Confederation when our founding fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton and Madison) discerned its shortcomings in domestic and foreign affairs. The process was not easy.

A convention was held in Philadelphia in 1777 and 1778 to amend the Articles of Confederation. As the meeting progressed, the delegates from the thirteen states reluctantly came to the conclusion that a new document for governing the former colonies was essential. After several months of contentious debates between and among the delegates representing the states, with the largest populations, and those delegates representing the states with smaller populations, a compromise was reached.

Two plans were presented: The Virginia Plan and the New Jersey Plan. Aspects of both plans were adopted under the leadership of James Madison. As a result of these discussions, the delegates supported a bicameral legislature rather than a unicameral legislature. The House of Representative members were to be elected by a popular vote, whereas the Senate would consist of two members of each state regardless of the population. Initially, the senators were elected by each state by the various legislators and various assemblies. This practice was finally changed on April 8, 1913, by the ratification of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, which provided for the direct election of senators by popular vote in each state.

Today we are confronted by various intransigent politicians from both the Republican and Democratic parties who have failed to devise a plan that would be a solution to our horrendous national debt of $13 trillion. A compromise between their positions with regard to entitlements and other matters must be achieved if we are to retain our international stature in the 21st century.

We Americans have developed solutions to difficult problems in the past when honorable elected men and women have derived workable compromises. Our future, as a great nation, demands this commitment. Now.

James T. Hamilton