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Philadelphia Convention

Philadelphia Convention

Overview
The Constitutional Convention (also known as the Philadelphia Convention, the Federal Convention, or the Grand Convention at Philadelphia) took place from May 14 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

, to address problems in governing the United States of America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, which had been operating under the Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that legally established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution...

 following independence from Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

. Although the Convention was intended to revise the Articles of Confederation, the intention from the outset of many of its proponents, chief among them James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 and Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

, was to create a new government rather than fix the existing one.
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Encyclopedia
The Constitutional Convention (also known as the Philadelphia Convention, the Federal Convention, or the Grand Convention at Philadelphia) took place from May 14 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

, to address problems in governing the United States of America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, which had been operating under the Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that legally established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution...

 following independence from Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

. Although the Convention was intended to revise the Articles of Confederation, the intention from the outset of many of its proponents, chief among them James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 and Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

, was to create a new government rather than fix the existing one. The delegates elected George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 to preside over the convention. The result of the Convention was the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

, placing the Convention among the most significant events in the history of the United States
History of the United States
The history of the United States traditionally starts with the Declaration of Independence in the year 1776, although its territory was inhabited by Native Americans since prehistoric times and then by European colonists who followed the voyages of Christopher Columbus starting in 1492. The...

.

The most contentious disputes revolved around the apportionment of the senate (by state or population), method of election for senators, how "proportional representation" was to be defined (whether to include slaves or other property), whether to divide the executive power between three persons or divest the power into a single president, how to elect the president, how long his term was to be and whether he could stand for reelection, what offenses should be impeachable, the nature of a fugitive slave clause, whether to allow the abolition of the slave trade, and whether judges should be chosen by the legislature or executive. Most of the time during the convention was spent on deciding these issues, while the powers of legislature, executive, and judiciary were not heavily disputed. Once the convention began, the delegates first agreed on the principles of the convention, then they agreed on Madison's Virginia plan and began to modify it. A Committee of Detail
Committee of Detail
The Committee of Detail was a committee established by the Philadelphia Convention on June 23, 1787 to put down a draft text reflecting the agreements made by the Convention up to that point, including the Virginia Plan's 15 resolutions. It was chaired by John Rutledge, and other members included...

 assembled during the July 4 recess and produced a rough draft. Most of this rough draft remained in place, and can be found in the final version of the constitution. After the final issues were resolved, the Committee on Style produced the final version, and it was voted on and sent to the states.

Historical context


Before the Constitution was drafted, the 13 colonies operated under the Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that legally established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution...

, created by the Second Continental Congress
Second Continental Congress
The Second Continental Congress was a convention of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies that started meeting on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, soon after warfare in the American Revolutionary War had begun. It succeeded the First Continental Congress, which met briefly during 1774,...

. The national government that operated under the Articles of Confederation was too weak to adequately regulate the various conflicts that arose between the states. These divides included a dispute between Maryland and Virginia over the Potomac River and Rhode Island's imposing taxes on all traffic passing through it on the post road
Boston Post Road
The Boston Post Road was a system of mail-delivery routes between New York City and Boston, Massachusetts that evolved into the first major highways in the United States.The three major alignments were the Lower Post Road The Boston Post Road was a system of mail-delivery routes between New York...

 that linked all the states. As the Articles of Confederation could only be amended by unanimous vote of the states, any state had effective veto power over any proposed change. In addition, the Articles gave the weak federal government no taxing power: it was wholly dependent on the states for its money, and had no power to force delinquent states to pay.

On January 21, 1786, the Virginia Legislature, following James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

's recommendation, invited all the states to send delegates to Annapolis, Maryland
Annapolis, Maryland
Annapolis is the capital of the U.S. state of Maryland, as well as the county seat of Anne Arundel County. It had a population of 38,394 at the 2010 census and is situated on the Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the Severn River, south of Baltimore and about east of Washington, D.C. Annapolis is...

 to discuss ways to reduce these interstate conflicts. At what came to be known as the Annapolis Convention
Annapolis Convention (1786)
The Annapolis Convention was a meeting in 1786 at Annapolis, Maryland, of 12 delegates from five states that unanimously called for a constitutional convention. The formal title of the meeting was a Meeting of Commissioners to Remedy Defects of the Federal Government...

, the few state delegates in attendance endorsed a motion that called for all states to meet in Philadelphia on May 14, 1787 to discuss ways to improve the Articles of Confederation in a "Grand Convention." Rhode Island, fearing that the Convention would work to its disadvantage, boycotted the Convention entirely in hopes of preventing any change to the Articles. When the Constitution was presented to the United States of America, Rhode Island refused to ratify it.

The Convention


Due to the difficulty of travel in the late 18th century, very few of the selected delegates were present on the designated day of May 14, 1787, and it was not until May 25 that a quorum of seven states was secured. James Madison arrived first, and soon most of the Virginia delegation arrived. While waiting for the other delegates, the Virginia delegation produced the Virginia Plan
Virginia Plan
The Virginia Plan was a proposal by Virginia delegates, for a bicameral legislative branch. The plan was drafted by James Madison while he waited for a quorum to assemble at the Constitutional Convention of 1787...

, which was designed and written by James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

. When the other delegates arrived, the convention convened in the Pennsylvania State House, and George Washington was unanimously elected as president of the convention. Although William Jackson
William Jackson (secretary)
William Jackson was a figure in the American Revolution, most noteworthy as the secretary to the United States Constitutional Convention. He also served with distinction in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War...

 was elected as secretary, his records were brief and included very little detail. Madison's Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787
Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787
Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 was James Madison's record of the daily debates held by delegates at the Philadelphia Convention, which resulted in the drafting of the current United States Constitution...

 remain the most complete record of the convention. Throughout the debate, they constantly referred to precedents from history in support of their position. Most commonly, they referred to the history of England, in particular the Glorious Revolution
Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau...

 (often simply called "The Revolution"), classical history (mainly the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 and the leagues of Greek city-states), and recent precedents from Holland and Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

.
In a few areas, Madison's plan included provisions that had little support among the delegates. Few agreed with Madison that the legislature should be able to invalidate state laws, so the idea was dropped. While most thought there should be some mechanism to invalidate bad laws by congress, few agreed with Madison that a board of the executive and judges should decide on this. Instead, the power was given solely to the executive in the form of the veto. Many also thought this would be useful to protect the executive, whom many worried might become beholden to an imperial legislature. Also, during the deliberations, the New Jersey Plan
New Jersey Plan
The New Jersey Plan was a proposal for the structure of the United States Government proposed by William Paterson at the Constitutional Convention on June 15, 1787...

 was introduced, although it was more of a protest to the excessive national character of the Virginia plan, and was not seriously considered. The office of Vice President
Vice president
A vice president is an officer in government or business who is below a president in rank. The name comes from the Latin vice meaning 'in place of'. In some countries, the vice president is called the deputy president...

 was also included later in the deliberations, mainly to provide the president a successor if he was unable to complete his term.

James Madison's blueprint


James Madison was one of the first delegates to arrive at the site of the convention, and quickly summoned the other Virginia delegates to arrive as soon as possible. While waiting, he sketched out his plan, known as the Virginia Plan
Virginia Plan
The Virginia Plan was a proposal by Virginia delegates, for a bicameral legislative branch. The plan was drafted by James Madison while he waited for a quorum to assemble at the Constitutional Convention of 1787...

, which reflected his views as a strong nationalist. By the time the rest of the Virginia delegation arrived, most of the Pennsylvania delegation had arrived as well. They agreed on Madison's plan, and formed what came to be the predominant coalition. By the time the convention started, the only blueprints that had been assembled were Madison's Virginia Plan, and Charles Pinckney's plan. As Pinckney didn't have a coalition behind his plan, Madison's plan was the starting point for deliberations. The convention agreed on several principles. Most importantly, they agreed that the convention should go beyond its mandate to merely amend the Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that legally established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution...

, and instead produce a new constitution outright. While some delegates thought this illegal, the Articles of Confederation were closer to a treaty between sovereign states than they were to a national constitution, so the genuine legal problems were limited. Another principle they agreed on was that the new government would have all the powers of the Confederation Congress, plus additional powers over the states. Once agreeing on these principles, the convention voted on the Virginia plan and signaled their approval for it. Once this was done, they began modifying it.

Madison's plan operated on several assumptions that were not seriously challenged. During the deliberations, few raised serious objections to the planned bicameral congress, nor the separate executive function, nor the separate judicial function. As English law had typically recognized government as having two separate functions, law making embodied in the legislature, and law executing embodied in the king and his courts, the division of the legislature from the executive and judiciary was a natural and uncontested point. The division of the legislature into an upper and lower house wasn't questioned either, despite the obscure origins of the English House of Lords and its role as the representative of the hereditary nobility. Americans had never known anything but bicameral legislatures, both in England and in most state governments. The main exceptions to this were the dysfunctional Confederation Congress and the unicameral Pennsylvania legislature, which was seen as quickly vacillating between partisan extremes after each election. Experience had convinced the delegates that an upper house was necessary to tame the passions of the people. However, since America had no native hereditary aristocracy, the character of this upper house was uncertain, other than the belief that it should represent the "betters" of society. The delegates also agreed with Madison that the executive function had to be independent of the legislature. In their aversion to kingly power, American legislatures had created state governments where the executive was beholden to the legislature, and by the late 1780s this was widely seen as being a source of paralysis. The Confederation government was the ultimate example of this. Furthermore, in the English tradition, judges were seen as being the agents of the King and his court, who represented him throughout his realm. Madison believed that in the American states, this direct link between state executives and judges was a source of corruption through patronage, and thought the link had to be severed between the two, thus creating the "third branch" of the judiciary which had been without any direct precedent before this point. Madison, however, did not believe that the judiciary should be truly independent, but rather beholden to the legislature rather than the executive. At the convention, some sided with Madison that the legislature should choose judges, while others believed the president should choose judges. A compromise was eventually reached that the president should choose judges and the senate confirm them.

The early debate



The first area of major dispute was the manner by which the lower house would be apportioned. A minority wanted it to be apportioned so that all states would have equal weight, though this was never seriously considered. Most wanted it apportioned in accordance with some mixture of property and population. Though there was discussion on how to calculate property for this purpose, the issue of property was later dropped because of its difficulty, and an assumption that property would closely correlate to population. Most accepted the desire among the slave states to count slaves as part of the population, although their servile status was raised as a major objection against this. Assessing population by adding the number of free persons to three-fifths of "all other persons" (slaves) was agreed to without serious dispute. Years earlier, when attempting to assess a national taxation system, the Confederation Congress had concluded that a slave was three-fifths as productive as a free person. As such, the ratio had been floating around for several years with wide acceptance. This compromise resulted in a large coalition of states, including the small slave states of South Carolina and Georgia, backing the Virginia plan and thus expanding the power of the primary coalition. That the lower house was to be elected directly by the voters was also accepted without major dispute.
More contentious than the lower house was the question of the upper house. Few agreed with Madison that its members should be elected by the lower house. Opinion was divided between election by popular vote versus election by state legislature. Most delegates didn't question the intelligence of the voters, rather what concerned them was the slowness by which information spread in the late 18th century. At the time of the convention, they noted that local newspapers said little of current events, and what little they had was sketchy and dated. Local papers even said little about the meeting of the convention. Besides the problems of direct election, the new constitution was seen as such a radical break with the old system, by which delegates were elected to the Confederation Congress by state legislatures, that the convention agreed to retain this method of electing senators to make the constitutional change less radical. The more difficult problem was the issue of apportionment. The Connecticut delegation offered a compromise, where the lower house would be apportioned by population, and the upper house would be apportioned equally between the states. Though this was probably the only method that could ever work, the big states didn't like it, and delegates decided to leave the issue to the Committee of Detail and deal with other matters.

The delegates couldn't agree on whether the executive should be a single person, or a board of three. Many supported the division of executive power between three persons, because this seen as a way to limit the executive power, and because there was widespread concern that a single executive would only represent the interests of his region. Some wanted a board of three, whereby each member would represent the interests of a separate region. The possible problems of this system, in addition to the knowledge that George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 would probably be the first president, calmed the fears of enough people so that the proponents of a singular executive could accumulate a large coalition. This issue came up occasionally after the matter was settled, but was never again seriously doubted. Another issue concerned the election of the president. Few agreed with Madison that the executive should be elected by the legislature. There was widespread concern with direct election, because information diffused so slowly in the late 18th century, and because of concerns that people would only vote for candidates from their state or region. A vocal minority wanted the national executive to be chosen by the governors of the states. The issue was one of the last major issues to be resolved, and was done so in the electoral college. At the time, before the formation of modern political parties, there was widespread concern that candidates would routinely fail to secure a majority of electors in the electoral college. The method of resolving this problem therefore a contested issue. Most thought that the house should then choose the president, since it most closely reflected the will of the people. This caused dissension among delegates from smaller states, who realized that this would put their states at a disadvantage. To resolve this dispute, the convention agreed that the house would elect the president if no candidate had an electoral college majority, but that each state delegation would vote as a block, rather than individually.

The first draft


The Convention adjourned from July 26 to August 6 to await the report of the Committee of Detail
Committee of Detail
The Committee of Detail was a committee established by the Philadelphia Convention on June 23, 1787 to put down a draft text reflecting the agreements made by the Convention up to that point, including the Virginia Plan's 15 resolutions. It was chaired by John Rutledge, and other members included...

, which was to produce a first draft of the constitution. It was chaired by John Rutledge
John Rutledge
John Rutledge was an American statesman and judge. He was the first Governor of South Carolina following the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the 31st overall...

, and other members included Edmund Randolph
Edmund Randolph
Edmund Jennings Randolph was an American attorney, the seventh Governor of Virginia, the second Secretary of State, and the first United States Attorney General.-Biography:...

, Oliver Ellsworth
Oliver Ellsworth
Oliver Ellsworth was an American lawyer and politician, a revolutionary against British rule, a drafter of the United States Constitution, and the third Chief Justice of the United States. While at the Federal Convention, Ellsworth moved to strike the word National from the motion made by Edmund...

, James Wilson
James Wilson
James Wilson was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. Wilson was elected twice to the Continental Congress, and was a major force in drafting the United States Constitution...

, and Nathaniel Gorham
Nathaniel Gorham
Nathaniel Gorham was the fourteenth President of the United States in Congress assembled, under the Articles of Confederation...

. Though the committee did not record its minutes, it is known that the committee used the original Virginia Plan, the decisions of the convention on modifications to that plan, and other sources, to produce the first full draft. Much of what was included in this draft consisted of details, such as powers given to congress, that hadn't been debated nor been included in any other plan before the convention. Most of these were uncontroversial and unchallenged, and as such much of what Rutledge's committee included in this first draft made it into the final version of the constitution without debate. They decided mostly on issues that hadn't been deliberated but weren't likely to be contested.

Historian David Stewart calls the committee's work "the most important single undertaking of the summer" and that it required "precision where agreement was clear, equivocation where it had been elusive." He also notes that "missing parts would have to be drafted, ambiguities dispelled, the whole thing knitted into a coherent document," and that "from one perspective, their draft was a remarkable cut-and-paste job" because it copied provisions from the Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that legally established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution...

, the convention resolutions, and even Charles Pinckney's
Charles Pinckney (governor)
Charles Pinckney was an American politician who was a signer of the United States Constitution, the 37th Governor of South Carolina, a Senator and a member of the House of Representatives...

 plan. However, Stewart argues that "they did much more, they added provisions that the convention never discussed, they changed critical agreements that the delegates had already approved. Spurred by Rutledge, they reconvened the powers of the national government, redefined the powers of the states, and adopted fresh concessions on that most explosive issue, slavery. It is not too much to say that Rutledge and his committee hijacked the constitution. Then they remade it." He notes that, other than Gorham, the committee members had all been lawyers of distinction, and would be leading legal figures in the new government (Randolph would be the first attorney general, while Rutledge, Ellsworth and Wilson would all be Supreme Court justices). They had all known each other as delegates to the Confederation Congress, and had seen its weaknesses first hand. Other than Randolph, they had all been in the congress when its fiscal problems became acute. They had already played important roles in the convention: Randolph presented the Virginia Plan, Rutledge and Wilson had been key to crafting the compromise on representation, Ellsworth had led the small states during the battle over per-state voting in the senate, and Gorham had chaired the Committee of the Whole where he called for compromise during the bitter debate over representation. Stewart states, "they had been more than merely active, they had been constructive." Stewart argues, "Rutledge knew what he wanted: a weaker central government," and that the draft produced by the committee reflected his goals. Since the committee didn't leave a record of its proceedings, its story has to be pieced together from three documents: an outline by Randolph with edits by Rutledge, extensive notes and a second draft by Wilson with edits by Rutledge, and the final report presented to the convention. Stewart argues "this evidence places the drafting pen in the hands of those three men". The outline began with two rules for drafting: that the constitution should only include essential principles, avoiding minor provisions that would change over time, and that it should be stated in simple and precise language. Wilson's draft included the first attempt at what would become the preamble in the final document.

Beginning with Randolph's outline, the committee added numerous provisions that the convention had never discussed, but which were not likely to be controversial. Examples include the speech and debate clause and provisions organizing the house and senate. Three of the committee's changes fundamentally reconstituted the national government. The first change replaced the open-ended grant of powers to congress with a list of enumerated powers. This was due to Rutledge, who wanted a strong national government but not one with indefinite powers. Many of these eighteen enumerated powers came from the Articles of Confederation. By this, the committee made the new national government one of limited powers, despite opposition among most delegates. Rutledge was not able to completely convince Wilson, who was hostile to states rights and wanted a stronger national government. Wilson thus modified the list of enumerated powers, notably by adding the necessary and proper clause. He also strengthened the supremacy clause
Supremacy Clause
Article VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause, establishes the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Treaties, and Federal Statutes as "the supreme law of the land." The text decrees these to be the highest form of law in the U.S...

. These changes set the final balance between the national and state governments that would be a part of the final document, as the convention never challenged this dual-sovereignty between nation and state established by Rutledge and Wilson. The final report of this committee, which became the first draft of the constitution, was the first workable constitutional plan, as Madison's Virginia Plan had simply been an outline of goals and a broad structure. Even after it issued this report, the committee continued to meet off and on until early September.

Further modifications and concluding debate


As the committee was putting together the first draft of the constitution, Benjamin Franklin offered a compromise to settle the most contentious dispute. The large states didn't like the Connecticut Compromise, because they thought it gave too much power to the smaller states. Franklin made two important modifications to this compromise, which was sufficient to win support for the overall constitution. He added the requirement that revenue bills originate in the house, although this language was later modified further so revenue bills could be modified in the senate. He also specified that each state was to get "one vote", rather than each state delegation, and that each state would have multiple senators. This meant that the senators would each be voting individually, rather than as a block by state as delegates always had. The effect of this was to make senators free agents, presumably acting on behalf of their state at large, rather than as mere agents of the state legislatures. As such, the senate would bring a federal character to the government, not because senators were elected by state legislatures, but because each state was equally represented in the senate, which was the main aim of the smaller states. It was this, not simply Madison's earlier agreement to replace the word "national" in the constitution with the word "federal", that convinced the delegates that the constitution had a federal character. The final document was thus a mixture of Madison's original "national" constitution and the desired "federal" constitution that many of the delegates sought.

Another month of discussion and relatively minor refinement followed, during which several attempts were made to alter the Rutledge draft, though few were successful. Some wanted to add property qualifications for people to hold office, while others wanted to prevent the national government from issuing paper money. Madison in particular wanted to push the constitution back in the direction of his Virginia plan. One important change that did make it into the final version included the agreement between northern and southern delegates to empower congress to end the slave trade in 1808. Southern and northern delegates also agreed to strengthen the fugitive slave clause in exchange for removing a requirement that two-thirds of congress agree on "navigation acts" (mainly regulations between states and foreign nations). The two-thirds requirement was favored by southern delegates, who thought congress might pass navigation acts that would be economically harmful for slave owners. Once the convention had finished amending the first draft from the Committee of Detail, a new set of unresolved questions were sent to several different committees for resolution. The Committee of Detail was considering several questions related to habeas corpus
Habeas corpus
is a writ, or legal action, through which a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention. The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to his aid. Habeas corpus originated in the English legal system, but it is now available in many nations...

, freedom of the press
Freedom of the press
Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials...

 and an executive council to advise the president. Two committees chaired by Livingston addressed questions related to the slave trade and the assumption of war debts.

A new committee was created, the Committee on Postponed Parts, to address other questions that had been postponed. David Brearley
David Brearley
David Brearley was a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention and signed the U.S...

 was named its chair. Its members, such as Madison, were delegates who had shown a greater desire for compromise and were choose for this reason as most in the convention wanted to finish their work and go home. It addressed questions related to the taxes, war making, patents and copyrights, relations with Indian tribes, and Franklin's compromise to require money bills to originate in the house. The biggest issue they addressed was the presidency, and the final compromise was written by Madison with the committee's input. They adopted Wilson's earlier plan for choosing the president by electoral college, and settled on the method of choosing the president if no candidate had an electoral college majority, which many such as Madison thought would be "nineteen times out of twenty". The committee also shorted the president's term to seven years to four years, freed him to seek reelection, and moved impeachment trials from the courts to the senate. They also created the vice president, whose only role was to succeed the president and preside over the senate. This also transferred important powers from the senate to the president, who was given the power (which had been given to the senate by Rutledge's committee) to make treaties and appoint ambassadors. One controversial issue throughout much of the convention had been the length of the president's term, and whether he was to be term limited. The problem was caused by the belief that he would be chosen by congress, but the decision to go with election by electoral college freed him from possibly becoming beholden to congress, so a shorter term with eligibility for reelection became a viable option.

Near the end of the convention, Gerry, Randolph and Mason emerged as the main force of opposition. Their fears were increased as the convention moved from Madison's vague Virginia Plan to the concrete plan of Rutledge's Committee of Detail. Historian David Stewart argues that Randolph's attacks on the constitution, then and now, have been criticized for coming from his political ambitions, in particular the likelihood of him facing Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry was an orator and politician who led the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia from 1776 to 1779 and subsequently, from 1784 to 1786...

 in a future campaign. The main objection of the three was the compromise that allowed congress to pass "navigation acts" (regulations of commerce between states and foreign governments) with a simple majority in exchange for strengthened slave provisions. They had other objections, such as the creation of the office of vice president. Though most of their complaints did not result in changes, a couple did. Mason succeeded in adding "high crimes and misdemeanors" to the impeachment clause. Gerry convinced the convention to include a second method for ratification of amendments. The report out of the Committee of Detail included only one mechanism of constitutional amendment, where two-thirds of the states had to ask congress to convene a convention to consider amendments. Upon Gerry's urging, the convention added back the Virginia Plan's original method where congress proposed amendments that the states would then ratify. All amendments to the constitution have been approved through this method. Despite their successes, these three dissenters grew increasingly unpopular as most other delegates wanted to end the convention and go home. As the convention was nearing its end, and getting ready to refer the constitution to the Committee on Style to prepare the final version, one delegate raised an objection over civil trials. He wanted to guarantee the right to a jury trial in civil matters, and Mason saw in this a larger opportunity. Mason told the convention that the constitution should include a bill of rights
Bill of rights
A bill of rights is a list of the most important rights of the citizens of a country. The purpose of these bills is to protect those rights against infringement. The term "bill of rights" originates from England, where it referred to the Bill of Rights 1689. Bills of rights may be entrenched or...

, which he thought could be prepared in a few hours. Gerry agreed, though the rest of the committee overruled them. They wanted to go home, and thought this was nothing more than another delaying tactic. Few at the time realized how important the issue would become, as the absence of the bill of rights would be the main argument used against ratification by the anti-federalists. Most thought that states already protected individual rights, and that the constitution didn't authorize the national government to take away rights, so there was no need to include protections on rights. Once the convention moved beyond this point, they addressed a couple of last-minute issues. Importantly, they modified the language that required spending bills to originate in the house so so that they could be modified by the senate rather than only giving the senate the power to agree or reject the proposed bill.

Drafting and signing



Once the final modifications had been made, the Committee of Style and Arrangement produced the final version. Unlike other committees, whose members were named so the committees included members from different regions, this final committee included no champions of the small states. Its members were mostly in favor of a strong national government and hostile to states rights. It was headed by Gouverneur Morris
Gouverneur Morris
Gouverneur Morris , was an American statesman, a Founding Father of the United States, and a native of New York City who represented Pennsylvania in the Constitutional Convention of 1787. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation. Morris was also an author of large sections of the...

, and included Hamilton, William Samuel Johnson, Rufus King, and Madison. It produced the final version, which was submitted for signing on September 17. It made at least one important change to what the convention had agreed to. King wanted to prevent states from inferring in contracts, though the convention never took up the matter. His language was now inserted, creating the contract clause
Contract Clause
The Contract Clause appears in the United States Constitution, Article I, section 10, clause 1. It states:The Contract Clause prohibits states from enacting any law that retroactively impairs contract rights...

. Morris is credited, both now and then, as the chief draftsman of the final document, including the stirring preamble. According to historian David Stewart, Morris started with the twenty-three articles from Rutledge's Committee of Detail. He threw out the first two as surplus, then consolidated the next seven articles. "Once underway the work developed its own rhythm. Moving related sections together, imposing a simple structure, Morris condensed twenty-three articles" into the seven main sections of the final constitution. "The new structure streamlined the charter, an effect that Morris reinforced with rigorous editing." Stewart cites the allocations of seats in the house, which was detailed in complex compromise language spanning nearly 300 words over three articles. Morris condensed this all down into one simple article, with just over 100 words. He also wrote the final preamble, based on earlier drafts. His reference to "We the people of the United States" as opposed to the earlier language of "We the people of the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts..." come from his desire for a strong national government, as well as a fear that not all the listed states might ratify the constitution.

Not all the delegates were pleased with the results; thirteen left before the ceremony, and three of those remaining refused to sign: Edmund Randolph
Edmund Randolph
Edmund Jennings Randolph was an American attorney, the seventh Governor of Virginia, the second Secretary of State, and the first United States Attorney General.-Biography:...

 of Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, George Mason
George Mason
George Mason IV was an American Patriot, statesman and a delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention...

 of Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, and Elbridge Gerry
Elbridge Gerry
Elbridge Thomas Gerry was an American statesman and diplomat. As a Democratic-Republican he was selected as the fifth Vice President of the United States , serving under James Madison, until his death a year and a half into his term...

 of Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

. George Mason
George Mason
George Mason IV was an American Patriot, statesman and a delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention...

 demanded a Bill of Rights
Bill of rights
A bill of rights is a list of the most important rights of the citizens of a country. The purpose of these bills is to protect those rights against infringement. The term "bill of rights" originates from England, where it referred to the Bill of Rights 1689. Bills of rights may be entrenched or...

 if he was to support the Constitution. The Bill of Rights was not included in the Constitution submitted to the states for ratification, but many states ratified the Constitution with the understanding that a bill of rights would soon follow. Shortly before the document was to be signed, Gorham proposed to lower the size of congressional districts from 40,000 to 30,000 citizens. A similar measure had been proposed earlier, and failed by one vote. George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 spoke up here, making his only substantive contribution to the text of the constitution in supporting this move. The convention adopted it without further debate. 39 of the 55 delegates ended up signing, but it is likely that none were completely satisfied. Their views were summed up by Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

, who said,
"There are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them. ... I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. ... It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies..."


Rhode Island never sent delegates, and two of New York's three delegates did not stay at the convention for long. Therefore, as George Washington stated, the document was executed by "eleven states, and Colonel Hamilton". Washington signed the document first, and then moving by state delegation from north to south, as had been the custom throughout the convention, the delegates filed to the front of the room to sign their names. As the final delegates were signing the document, Franklin commented on the painting of a sun behind Washington's chair at the front of the room. He said he often looked at the painting, "without being able to tell, whether it was rising or setting. But now at length, I have the happiness to know it is a rising, and not a setting sun." The Constitution was then submitted to the states for ratification, pursuant to its own Article VII.

Proposed plans


Several plans were introduced, with the most important plan being that of James Madison (the Virginia Plan). The convention's work was mostly a matter of modifying this plan. Charles Pinckney also introduced a plan, although this wasn't considered and its exact character has been lost to history. After the convention was well under way, the New Jersey Plan was introduced though never seriously considered. It was mainly a protest to what some delegates thought was the excessively radical change from the Articles of Confederation. Alexander Hamilton also offered a plan after the convention was well under way, although it included an elected king and was thus not taken seriously. Historians are unsure how serious he was about this, and some have speculated that he may have done it to make Madison's plan look moderate by comparison. The Connecticut Compromise wasn't a plan but one of several compromises offered by the Connecticut delegation. It was key to the ultimate ratification of the constitution, although was only included after being modified by Benjamin Franklin in order to make it more appealing to larger states.

Virginia Plan



Prior to the start of the convention, the Virginian delegates met, and using Madison's
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 thoughts, work, and notes, came up with what came to be known as the Virginia Plan, also known as the Large State Plan. For this reason, James Madison is sometimes called the Father of the Constitution. Presented by Virginia governor Edmund Randolph
Edmund Randolph
Edmund Jennings Randolph was an American attorney, the seventh Governor of Virginia, the second Secretary of State, and the first United States Attorney General.-Biography:...

 on May 29, 1787, the Virginia Plan proposed a very powerful bicameral legislature. Both houses of the legislature would be determined proportionately. The lower house would be elected by the people, and the upper house would be elected by the lower house. The executive would exist solely to ensure that the will of the legislature was carried out and would therefore be selected by the legislature. The Virginia Plan also created a judiciary, and gave both the executive and some of the judiciary the power to veto, subject to override.

Plan of Charles Pinckney



Immediately after Randolph finished laying out the Virginia Plan, Charles Pinckney
Charles Pinckney (governor)
Charles Pinckney was an American politician who was a signer of the United States Constitution, the 37th Governor of South Carolina, a Senator and a member of the House of Representatives...

 of South Carolina presented his own plan to the Convention. As Pinckney did not reduce it to writing, the only evidence we have are Madison's notes, so the details are somewhat sketchy. It was a confederation, or treaty, among the 13 states. There was to be a bicameral legislature made up of a Senate and a House of Delegates. The House would have one member for every one thousand inhabitants. The House would elect Senators who would serve by rotation for four years and represent one of four regions. Congress would meet in a joint session to elect a President, and would also appoint members of the cabinet. Congress, in joint session, would serve as the court of appeal of last resort in disputes between states. Pinckney did also provide for a supreme Federal Judicial Court. The Pinckney plan was not debated, but it may have been referred to by the Committee of Detail
Committee of Detail
The Committee of Detail was a committee established by the Philadelphia Convention on June 23, 1787 to put down a draft text reflecting the agreements made by the Convention up to that point, including the Virginia Plan's 15 resolutions. It was chaired by John Rutledge, and other members included...

.

New Jersey Plan




After the Virginia Plan was introduced, New Jersey delegate William Paterson asked for an adjournment to contemplate the Plan. Under the Articles of Confederation
Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation, formally the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was an agreement among the 13 founding states that legally established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution...

, each state had equal representation in Congress, exercising one vote each. The Virginia Plan threatened to limit the smaller states' power by making both houses of the legislature proportionate to population. On 14 and 15 June 1787, a small-state caucus met to create a response to the Virginia Plan. The result was the New Jersey Plan, otherwise known as the Small State Plan.

Paterson's New Jersey Plan was ultimately a rebuttal to the Virginia Plan, and was much closer to the initial call for the Convention: drafting amendments to the Articles of Confederation to fix the problems in it. Under the New Jersey Plan, the existing Continental Congress would remain, but it would be granted new powers, such as the power to levy taxes and force their collection. An executive branch was created, to be elected by Congress (the plan allowed for a multi-person executive). The executives would serve a single term and were subject to recall on the request of state governors. The plan also created a judiciary that would serve for life, to be appointed by the executives. Lastly, any laws set by Congress would take precedence over state laws. When Paterson reported the plan to the convention on June 15, 1787, it was ultimately rejected, but it gave the smaller states a rallying point for their interests.

Hamilton's Plan



Unsatisfied with the New Jersey Plan and the Virginia Plan, Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

 proposed his own plan. It also was known as the British Plan, because of its resemblance to the British system of strong centralized government. In his plan, Hamilton advocated eliminating state sovereignty and consolidating the states into a single nation. The plan featured a bicameral legislature, the lower house elected by the people for three years. The upper house would be elected by electors chosen by the people and would serve for life. The plan also gave the Governor, an executive elected by electors for a life-term of service, an absolute veto over bills. State governors would be appointed by the national legislature, and the national legislature had veto power over any state legislation.

Hamilton presented his plan to the Convention on June 18, 1787. The plan was perceived as a well-thought-out plan, but it was not considered, because it resembled the British system too closely. It also contemplated the loss of all state authority, which the states were unwilling to allow.

Connecticut Compromise


The Connecticut Compromise
Connecticut Compromise
The Connecticut Compromise was an agreement that large and small states reached during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that in part defined the legislative structure and representation that each state would have under the United States Constitution...

, forged by Roger Sherman
Roger Sherman
Roger Sherman was an early American lawyer and politician, as well as a founding father. He served as the first mayor of New Haven, Connecticut, and served on the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence, and was also a representative and senator in the new republic...

 from Connecticut, was proposed on June 11. In a sense it blended the Virginia (large-state) and New Jersey (small-state) proposals regarding congressional apportionment. Ultimately, however, its main contribution was in determining the apportionment of the senate, and thus retaining a federal character in the constitution. Sherman sided with the two-house national legislature of the Virginia Plan, but proposed "That the proportion of suffrage in the 1st. branch [house] should be according to the respective numbers of free inhabitants; and that in the second branch or Senate, each State should have one vote and no more." Although Sherman was well liked and respected among the delegates, his plan failed at first. It was not until July 23 that representation was finally settled. What was ultimately included in the constitution was a modified form of this plan, partly because the larger states didn't like it. In the Committee of Detail, Benjamin Franklin modified Sherman's proposal to make it more acceptable to the larger states. He added the requirement that revenue bills originate in the house, and that senate delegations be severed from the state legislatures. During prior assemblies, such as the Confederation Congress, the state delegations would vote as a block as instructed by the state legislatures. Franklin modified this, so that the senators would not vote as a block. This freed them from pressure from state legislatures, and made them free agents. As such, the senate would bring a federal character to the government, not because senators were elected by state legislatures, but because each state was equally represented in the senate, which was the main aim of the smaller states.

Slavery


Among the most controversial issues confronting the delegates was that of slavery. Slaves comprised approximately one-fifth of the population in the American colonies. In the Southern colonies, slaves comprised 40 percent of the population. Whether slavery was to be regulated under the new Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 was a matter of conflict between the North and South, with several Southern states refusing to join the Union
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 if slavery was not allowed.

One of the most contentious slavery-related issues was the question of whether slaves would be counted as part of the population in determining representation in the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 or considered property not entitled to representation. Delegates from states with a large population of slaves argued that slaves should be considered persons in determining representation, but as property if the new government were to levy taxes on the states on the basis of population. Delegates from states where slavery had disappeared or almost disappeared argued that slaves should be included in taxation, but not in determining representation.

Finally, delegate James Wilson
James Wilson
James Wilson was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. Wilson was elected twice to the Continental Congress, and was a major force in drafting the United States Constitution...

 proposed the Three-Fifths Compromise
Three-fifths compromise
The Three-Fifths Compromise was a compromise between Southern and Northern states reached during the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 in which three-fifths of the enumerated population of slaves would be counted for representation purposes regarding both the distribution of taxes and the...

. This was eventually adopted by the convention.

Another issue at the Convention was what should be done about the slave trade. The three states that still allowed it threatened to leave the convention if the trade were banned. They postponed the decision on the slave trade because of its contentious nature. The delegates to the Convention did not want its ratification
Ratification
Ratification is a principal's approval of an act of its agent where the agent lacked authority to legally bind the principal. The term applies to private contract law, international treaties, and constitutionals in federations such as the United States and Canada.- Private law :In contract law, the...

 to fail because of the conflict over slavery. Therefore, a special committee worked out another compromise: Congress would have the power to ban the importation of slaves, but not until at least 20 years had passed, in 1808.

Delegates


The 55 delegate
Delegate
A delegate is a person who speaks or acts on behalf of an organization at a meeting or conference between organizations of the same level A delegate is a person who speaks or acts on behalf of an organization (e.g., a government, a charity, an NGO, or a trade union) at a meeting or conference...

s who drafted the Constitution included many of the Founding Fathers
Founding Fathers of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some...

 of the new nation. Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, who was Minister to France
United States Ambassador to France
This article is about the United States Ambassador to France. There has been a United States Ambassador to France since the American Revolution. The United States sent its first envoys to France in 1776, towards the end of the four-centuries-old Bourbon dynasty...

 during the convention, characterized the delegates as an assembly of "demi-gods." John Adams
John Adams
John Adams was an American lawyer, statesman, diplomat and political theorist. A leading champion of independence in 1776, he was the second President of the United States...

 also did not attend, being abroad in Europe as Minister to Great Britain
United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom
The office of United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom was traditionally, and still is very much so today due to the Special Relationship, the most prestigious position in the United States Foreign Service...

, but he wrote home to encourage the delegates. Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry was an orator and politician who led the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia from 1776 to 1779 and subsequently, from 1784 to 1786...

 was also absent; he refused to go because he "smelt a rat in Philadelphia, tending toward the monarchy." Also absent were John Hancock
John Hancock
John Hancock was a merchant, statesman, and prominent Patriot of the American Revolution. He served as president of the Second Continental Congress and was the first and third Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts...

 and Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams was an American statesman, political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. As a politician in colonial Massachusetts, Adams was a leader of the movement that became the American Revolution, and was one of the architects of the principles of American...

. Rhode Island refused to send delegates to the convention.
Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

  • Oliver Ellsworth
    Oliver Ellsworth
    Oliver Ellsworth was an American lawyer and politician, a revolutionary against British rule, a drafter of the United States Constitution, and the third Chief Justice of the United States. While at the Federal Convention, Ellsworth moved to strike the word National from the motion made by Edmund...

    *
  • William Samuel Johnson
    William Samuel Johnson
    William Samuel Johnson was an early American statesman who was notable for signing the United States Constitution, for representing Connecticut in the United States Senate, and for serving as president of Columbia University.-Early career:...

  • Roger Sherman
    Roger Sherman
    Roger Sherman was an early American lawyer and politician, as well as a founding father. He served as the first mayor of New Haven, Connecticut, and served on the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence, and was also a representative and senator in the new republic...



Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

  • Richard Bassett
    Richard Bassett
    Richard Bassett was an American lawyer and politician from Dover, in Kent County, Delaware. He was a veteran of the American Revolution, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and a member of the Federalist Party, who served in the Delaware General Assembly, as Governor of Delaware,...

  • Gunning Bedford, Jr.
    Gunning Bedford, Jr.
    Gunning Bedford, Jr. was an American lawyer and politician from Wilmington, in New Castle County, Delaware. He served in the Delaware General Assembly, as a Continental Congressman from Delaware and as a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787. He is often confused with his cousin,...

  • Jacob Broom
    Jacob Broom
    Jacob Broom was an American businessman and politician from Wilmington, in New Castle County, Delaware. As a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, he was a signer of the U.S. Constitution. He was also appointed as a delegate to the Annapolis Convention but did not attend, and...

  • John Dickinson
    John Dickinson (delegate)
    John Dickinson was an American lawyer and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, Delaware. He was a militia officer during the American Revolution, a Continental Congressman from Pennsylvania and Delaware, a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, President of...

  • George Read
    George Read (signer)
    George Read was an American lawyer and politician from New Castle in New Castle County, Delaware. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a Continental Congressman from Delaware, a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, President of Delaware, and a member of the...



Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

  • Abraham Baldwin
    Abraham Baldwin
    Abraham Baldwin was an American politician, Patriot, and Founding Father from the U.S. state of Georgia. Baldwin was a Georgia representative in the Continental Congress and served in the United States House of Representatives and Senate after the adoption of the Constitution.-Minister:After...

  • William Few
    William Few
    William Few, Jr. was an American politician and a farmer, and a businessman and a Founding Father of the United States. William represented the U.S. state of Georgia at the Constitutional Convention....

  • William Houstoun*
  • William Pierce
    William Pierce (politician)
    William Pierce was an army officer during the American Revolutionary War and a member of the United States Constitutional Convention of 1787....

    *


Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

  • Daniel Carroll
    Daniel Carroll
    Daniel Carroll was a politician and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He was a prominent member of one of the United States' great colonial Catholic families, whose members included his younger brother Archbishop John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the United States and...

  • Luther Martin
    Luther Martin
    Luther Martin was a politician and one of United States' Founding Fathers, who refused to sign the Constitution because he felt it violated states' rights...

    *
  • James McHenry
    James McHenry
    James McHenry was an early American statesman. McHenry was a signer of the United States Constitution from Maryland and the namesake of Fort McHenry...

  • John Francis Mercer
    John Francis Mercer
    John Francis Mercer was an American lawyer, planter, and politician from Virginia and Maryland. Born in 1759 in Marlborough, Stafford County, Virginia, to John Mercer and Ann Roy Mercer, he graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1775 and was a delegate for Virginia to the Continental...

    *
  • Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer
    Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer
    Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer was a politician and a Founding Father of the United States. Born long before conflicts with Great Britain emerged, he was a leader for many years in Maryland's colonial government...



Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

  • Elbridge Gerry
    Elbridge Gerry
    Elbridge Thomas Gerry was an American statesman and diplomat. As a Democratic-Republican he was selected as the fifth Vice President of the United States , serving under James Madison, until his death a year and a half into his term...

    *
  • Nathaniel Gorham
    Nathaniel Gorham
    Nathaniel Gorham was the fourteenth President of the United States in Congress assembled, under the Articles of Confederation...

  • Rufus King
    Rufus King
    Rufus King was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat. He was a delegate for Massachusetts to the Continental Congress. He also attended the Constitutional Convention and was one of the signers of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...

  • Caleb Strong
    Caleb Strong
    Caleb Strong was Massachusetts lawyer and politician who served as the sixth and tenth Governor of Massachusetts between 1800 and 1807, and again from 1812 until 1816.-Biography:...

    *


New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

  • Nicholas Gilman
    Nicholas Gilman
    Nicholas Gilman, Jr. was a soldier in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, a delegate to the Continental Congress, and a signer of the U.S. Constitution, representing New Hampshire. He was a member of the United States House of Representatives during the first four...

  • John Langdon
    John Langdon
    John Langdon was a politician from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and one of the first two United States senators from that state. Langdon was an early supporter of the Revolutionary War and later served in the Continental Congress...



New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

  • David Brearley
    David Brearley
    David Brearley was a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention and signed the U.S...

  • Jonathan Dayton
    Jonathan Dayton
    Jonathan Dayton was an American politician from the U.S. state of New Jersey. He was the youngest person to sign the United States Constitution and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, serving as the fourth Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and later the U.S. Senate...

  • William Houston
    William Houston
    William Churchill Houston was an American teacher, lawyer, and statesman. He was a delegate to both the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention for New Jersey. Houston was elected in 1785 to the American Philosophical Society.-Early life and career:Houston was born in the Sumter...

    *
  • William Livingston
    William Livingston
    William Livingston served as the Governor of New Jersey during the American Revolutionary War and was a signer of the United States Constitution.-Early life:...

  • William Paterson


New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

  • Alexander Hamilton
    Alexander Hamilton
    Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

  • John Lansing, Jr.
    John Lansing, Jr.
    John Ten Eyck Lansing, Jr. , was an American lawyer and politician. He was the uncle of Gerrit Y. Lansing.-Career:...

    *
  • Robert Yates
    Robert Yates (politician)
    Robert Yates was a politician and judge well known for his Anti-Federalist stances. He is also well known as the presumed author of political essays published in 1787 and 1788 under the pseudonyms "Brutus" and "Sydney"...

    *


North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

  • William Blount
    William Blount
    William Blount, was a United States statesman. He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention for North Carolina, the first and only governor of the Southwest Territory, and Democratic-Republican Senator from Tennessee . He played a major role in establishing the state of Tennessee. He was the...

  • William Richardson Davie
    William Richardson Davie
    William Richardson Davie was a military officer and the tenth Governor of North Carolina from 1798 to 1799, as well as one of the most important men involved in the founding of the University of North Carolina...

    *
  • John Jay
    John Jay
    John Jay was an American politician, statesman, revolutionary, diplomat, a Founding Father of the United States, and the first Chief Justice of the United States ....

    *
  • Alexander Martin
    Alexander Martin
    Alexander Martin was the fourth and seventh Governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1782 to 1784 and from 1789 to 1792.-Biography:...

    *
  • Richard Dobbs Spaight
    Richard Dobbs Spaight
    Richard Dobbs Spaight was the eighth Governor of the American State of North Carolina from 1792 to 1795.-Early life:Spaight was born in New Bern, North Carolina, the son of the Secretary of the Crown in the colony...

  • Hugh Williamson
    Hugh Williamson
    Hugh Williamson was an American politician. He is best known for representing North Carolina at the Constitutional Convention.Williamson was a scholar of international renown...



Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

  • George Clymer
    George Clymer
    George Clymer was an American politician and founding father. He was one of the first Patriots to advocate complete independence from Britain. As a Pennsylvania representative, Clymer was, along with five others, a signatory of both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution...

  • Thomas Fitzsimons
    Thomas Fitzsimons
    Thomas FitzSimons was an American merchant and statesman of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, and the U.S. Congress.-Biography:...

  • Benjamin Franklin
    Benjamin Franklin
    Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

  • Jared Ingersoll
    Jared Ingersoll
    Jared Ingersoll was an early American lawyer and statesman from Philadelphia.He was a delegate to the Continental Congress and signed the U.S. Constitution for Pennsylvania...

  • Thomas Mifflin
    Thomas Mifflin
    Thomas Mifflin was an American merchant and politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a major general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution, a member of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly, a Continental Congressman from Pennsylvania, President of the Continental...

  • Gouverneur Morris
    Gouverneur Morris
    Gouverneur Morris , was an American statesman, a Founding Father of the United States, and a native of New York City who represented Pennsylvania in the Constitutional Convention of 1787. He was a signatory to the Articles of Confederation. Morris was also an author of large sections of the...

  • Robert Morris
    Robert Morris (merchant)
    Robert Morris, Jr. was a British-born American merchant, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the United States Constitution...

  • James Wilson
    James Wilson
    James Wilson was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence. Wilson was elected twice to the Continental Congress, and was a major force in drafting the United States Constitution...



South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

  • Pierce Butler
    Pierce Butler
    Pierce Butler was a soldier, planter, and statesman, recognized as one of United States' Founding Fathers. He represented South Carolina in the Continental Congress, the 1787 Constitutional Convention, and the U.S. Senate...

  • Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
    Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
    Charles Cotesworth “C. C.” Pinckney , was an early American statesman of South Carolina, Revolutionary War veteran, and delegate to the Constitutional Convention. He was twice nominated by the Federalist Party as their presidential candidate, but he did not win either election.-Early life and...

  • Charles Pinckney
    Charles Pinckney (governor)
    Charles Pinckney was an American politician who was a signer of the United States Constitution, the 37th Governor of South Carolina, a Senator and a member of the House of Representatives...

  • John Rutledge
    John Rutledge
    John Rutledge was an American statesman and judge. He was the first Governor of South Carolina following the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the 31st overall...



Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

  • John Blair
    John Blair
    John Blair, Jr. was an American politician, Founding Father and jurist.Blair was one of the best-trained jurists of his day. A famous legal scholar, he avoided the tumult of state politics, preferring to work behind the scenes...

  • James Madison
    James Madison
    James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

  • George Mason
    George Mason
    George Mason IV was an American Patriot, statesman and a delegate from Virginia to the U.S. Constitutional Convention...

    *
  • James McClurg
    James McClurg
    James McClurg was a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention. McClurg was an established physician in Virginia who was educated at the College of William and Mary and took his medical degree from the University of Edinburgh. He was a fellow student with Thomas Jefferson. He practiced first in...

    *
  • Edmund Randolph
    Edmund Randolph
    Edmund Jennings Randolph was an American attorney, the seventh Governor of Virginia, the second Secretary of State, and the first United States Attorney General.-Biography:...

    *
  • George Washington
    George Washington
    George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

  • George Wythe
    George Wythe
    George Wythe was an American lawyer, a judge, a prominent law professor and "Virginia's foremost classical scholar." He was a teacher and mentor of Thomas Jefferson. Wythe's signature is positioned at the head of the list of seven Virginia signatories on the United States Declaration of Independence...

    *


Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

  • Rhode Island did not send delegates to the convention.

(*) Did not sign the final draft of the U.S. Constitution. Randolph, Mason, and Gerry were the only three present in Philadelphia at the time who refused to sign.

See also

  • A More Perfect Union (film)
    A More Perfect Union (film)
    A More Perfect Union: America Becomes a Nation is a 1989 American feature film dramatizing the events of the Constitutional Convention. It was officially recognized by the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution as "of exceptional merit".-Plot summary:The film depicts...

  • Bill of Rights
    Bill of rights
    A bill of rights is a list of the most important rights of the citizens of a country. The purpose of these bills is to protect those rights against infringement. The term "bill of rights" originates from England, where it referred to the Bill of Rights 1689. Bills of rights may be entrenched or...

  • Constitution Day (United States)
    Constitution Day (United States)
    Constitution Day is an American federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. It is observed on September 17, the day the U.S...

  • Constitution of the United States
  • Convention to propose amendments to the United States Constitution
  • Founding Fathers of the United States
    Founding Fathers of the United States
    The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some...

  • History of the United States
    History of the United States
    The history of the United States traditionally starts with the Declaration of Independence in the year 1776, although its territory was inhabited by Native Americans since prehistoric times and then by European colonists who followed the voyages of Christopher Columbus starting in 1492. The...

  • National Constitution Center
    National Constitution Center
    The National Constitution Center is an organization that seeks to expand awareness and understanding of the United States Constitution and operates a museum to advance those purposes....

  • Timeline of the United States Constitution
  • U.S. Constitution, topics

External links