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The Constitutional Convention took place in Philadelphia from May 25 to September 17, 1787. Although the convention was intended to revise the league of states and first system of government under the
Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, ...
, the intention from the outset of many of its proponents, chief among them
James Madison James Madison Jr. (March 16, 1751June 28, 1836) was an American statesman, diplomat, expansionist, philosopher, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the 4th president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. ...

James Madison
of Virginia and
Alexander Hamilton Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757July 12, 1804) was an American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer, banker, and economist. He was one of the . He was an influential interpreter and promoter of the , ...

Alexander Hamilton
of New York, was to create a new
Frame of Government A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation or other type of Legal entity, entity and commonly determine how that entity is to be governed. When ...
rather than fix the existing one. The delegates elected
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American soldier, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the Continenta ...

George Washington
of Virginia, former commanding general of the
Continental Army The Continental Army was the army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land- ...
in the late
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from thirteen American colonies of British America British America comprised the colonia ...
(1775–1783) and proponent of a stronger national government, to become President of the convention. The result of the convention was the creation of the
Constitution of the United States The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organization, or orga ...

Constitution of the United States
, placing the Convention among the most significant events in
American history The history of the United States started with the arrival of Native Americans in North America around 15,000 BC. Native American cultures in the United States, Numerous indigenous cultures formed, and many disappeared in the 1500s. The arrival o ...
. The convention took place in the old Pennsylvania State House (now known as
Independence Hall Independence Hall is a historic civic building in Philadelphia Philadelphia, colloquially Philly, is a city in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States. It is the sixth-most populous city in the United States and the most populous ...

Independence Hall
) in
Philadelphia Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the of in the . It is the in the United States and the city in the state of Pennsylvania, with a 2020 population of 1,603,797. It is also the in the Northeastern U ...

Philadelphia
. At the time, the convention was not referred to as a ''constitutional convention''. It was contemporarily known as the Federal Convention, the Philadelphia Convention, or the Grand Convention at Philadelphia. Nor did most of the delegates arrive intending to draft a new constitution. Many assumed that the purpose of the convention was to discuss and draft improvements to the existing Articles of Confederation, and would not have agreed to participate otherwise. Once the convention began, however, most of the delegates – though not all – came to agree in general terms that the goal would be a new system of government, not simply a revised version of the Articles of Confederation. Several broad outlines were proposed and debated, most notably James Madison's
Virginia Plan The ''Virginia Plan'' (also known as the Randolph Plan, after its sponsor, or the Large-State Plan) was a proposal to the United States Constitutional Convention for the creation of a supreme national government with three branches and a bica ...

Virginia Plan
and William Paterson's
New Jersey Plan The ''New Jersey Plan'' (also known as the Small State Plan or the Paterson Plan) was a proposal for the structure of the United States Government presented by William Paterson at the Constitutional Convention on June 15, 1787. The plan was cr ...

New Jersey Plan
. The Virginia Plan was selected as the basis for the new government, and the delegates quickly reached consensus on a general blueprint of a federal government with three branches (
legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure i ...
,
executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administration of state bureaucracy * Executive, a senior management role in an organization ** Chief exec ...
, and
judicial The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authori ...
) along with the basic role of each branch. However, disagreement over the specific design and powers of the branches delayed progress for weeks and threatened the success of the convention. The most contentious disputes involved the legislature, specifically the composition and election procedures for the
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
as the upper legislative house of a
bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interac ...
Congress Congresses are formal meetings of the representatives of different countries A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, ...

Congress
; and whether ''proportional representation'' was to be defined by a state's geography or by its population. The role of the executive was also hotly debated, including the key issues of whether to divide the
executive power The executive (short for executive branch or executive power) is the part of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, a ...
among three people or vest the power in a single chief executive to be called the President; how a president would be elected; the length of a presidential term and the number of allowable terms; what offenses should be impeachable; and whether judges should be chosen by the legislature or the executive. Finally, slavery was also a contentious issue, with the delegates debating the insertion of a fugitive slave clause; whether to allow the abolition of the slave trade; and whether slaves were to be counted in proportional representation. Most of the time during the convention was spent on deciding these issues. Progress was slow until mid-July, when the
Connecticut Compromise The Connecticut Compromise (also known as the Great Compromise of 1787 or Sherman Compromise) was an agreement that large and small states reached during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that in part defined the legislative structure and rep ...
resolved enough lingering arguments for a draft written by the
Committee of Detail The Committee of Detail was a committee A committee or commission is a body of one or more persons that is subordinate to a deliberative assembly. Usually, the assembly sends matters into a committee as a way to explore them more fully than wo ...
to gain acceptance. Though more modifications and compromises were made over the following weeks, most of this draft can be found in the finished version of the Constitution. After several more issues were debated and resolved, the Committee of Style produced the final version in early September. It was voted on by the delegates, inscribed on parchment with engraving for printing, and signed by thirty-nine of fifty-five delegates on September 17, 1787. The completed proposed Constitution was then released to the public to begin the debate and ratification process.


Historical context

During the
American Revolution The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution which occurred in colonial North America between 1765 and 1783. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies defeated the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) ...
, the thirteen American states replaced their colonial governments with
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
an constitutions based on the principle of
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' ( ...
, organizing government into
legislative A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure i ...
,
executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administration of state bureaucracy * Executive, a senior management role in an organization ** Chief exec ...
and
judicial The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authori ...
branches. These revolutionary constitutions endorsed
legislative supremacy Parliamentary sovereignty (also called parliamentary supremacy or legislative supremacy) is a concept in the constitutional law of some parliamentary democracies A parliamentary system or parliamentary democracy is a system of democracy, dem ...
by placing most power in the legislature—since it was viewed as most representative of the people—including power traditionally considered as belonging to the executive and judicial branches. State
governors A governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State (p ...
lacked significant authority, and state courts and judges were under the control of the legislative branch. After
declaring independence
declaring independence
from Britain in 1776, the thirteen states created a permanent alliance to coordinate American efforts to win the
Revolutionary WarRevolutionary War(s) may refer to: * American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), the armed conflict between Great Britain and 13 of its North American colonies, which had declared themselves the independent United States of America * French Revolution ...
. This alliance, the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country in . It consists of 50 , a , five major , 326 , and some . At , it is the world's . The United States shares significan ...

United States
, was to be governed according to the
Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, ...
, which was more of a treaty between independent countries than a national constitution. The Articles were adopted by the
Second Continental Congress The Second Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British c ...
in 1777 but not finally ratified by all states until 1781. During the
Confederation Period The Confederation Period was the era of United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists ...
, the United States was essentially a federation of independent republics, with the Articles guaranteeing state sovereignty and independence. The Confederation was governed by the
Congress of the Confederation The Congress of the Confederation, or the Confederation Congress, formally referred to as the United States in Congress Assembled, was the governing body of the United States of America The United States of America (USA), commonly kno ...
, a
unicameral In , unicameralism (Latin , "one" and , "chamber") is the practice of having a single legislative or . Thus, a ''unicameral parliament'' or ''unicameral legislature'' is a which consists of a single chamber or house. Concept Unicameral legi ...
legislature whose members were chosen by the state legislatures and in which each state cast a single vote. Congress was given a limited set of powers, mainly in the area of waging war and foreign affairs. It could not levy taxes or tariffs, and it could only request money from the states, with no power to force delinquent states to pay. Since the Articles could only be amended by a unanimous vote of the states, any state had effective
veto A veto (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Re ...
power over any proposed change. A
super majority A supermajority, supra-majority, qualified majority or special majority, is a requirement for a proposal to gain a specified level of support which is greater than the threshold of more than one-half used for a majority. Supermajority rules in a ...
(nine of thirteen state delegations) was required for Congress to pass major legislation such as declaring war, making treaties, or borrowing money. The Confederation had no executive or judicial branches, which meant the Confederation government lacked effective means to enforce its own laws and treaties against state non-compliance. It soon became evident to nearly all that the Confederation government, as originally organized, was inadequate for managing the various problems confronting the United States. Once the immediate task of winning the war had passed, states began to look to their own interests rather than those of the whole country. By the mid-1780s, states were refusing to provide Congress with funding, which meant the Confederation government could not pay the interest on its foreign debt, pay soldiers stationed along the Ohio River or defend American navigation rights on the Mississippi River against Spanish interference. In 1782, Rhode Island vetoed an amendment that would have allowed Congress to levy taxes on imports to pay off federal debts. A second attempt was made to approve a federal impost in 1785; however, this time it was New York which disapproved. The Confederation Congress also lacked the power to regulate foreign and interstate commerce. Britain, France and Spain imposed various restrictions on American ships and products, while the US was unable to coordinate retaliatory trade policies. When states like Massachusetts or Pennsylvania placed reciprocal duties on British trade, neighboring states such as Connecticut and Delaware established
free port Free economic zones (FEZ), free economic territories (FETs) or free zones (FZ) are a class of special economic zone A special economic zone (SEZ) is an area in which the business and trade laws are different from the rest of the country. SE ...
s to gain an economic advantage. In the 1780s, some states even began applying customs duties against the trade of neighboring states. In 1784, Congress proposed an amendment to give it powers over foreign trade; however, it failed to receive unanimous approval by the states. Many upper-class Americans complained that state constitutions were too democratic and, as a result, legislators were more concerned with maintaining popular approval than doing what was best for the nation. The most pressing example was the way state legislatures responded to calls for economic relief in the 1780s. Many people were unable to pay taxes and debts due to a post-war economic depression that was exacerbated by a scarcity of gold and silver
coin A coin is a small, flat, (usually, depending on the country or value) round piece of metal A metal (from Ancient Greek, Greek μέταλλον ''métallon'', "mine, quarry, metal") is a material that, when freshly prepared, polished, or f ...

coin
s. States responded by issuing
paper currency A banknote (often known as a bill (in the US and Canada), paper money, or simply a note) is a type of negotiable promissory note A promissory note, sometimes referred to as a note payable, is a legal instrument ''Legal instrument'' is a l ...
, which often
depreciated In accountancy Accounting or Accountancy is the measurement ' Measurement is the number, numerical quantification (science), quantification of the variable and attribute (research), attributes of an object or event, which can be used to co ...
in value, and by making it easier to defer tax and debt payments. These policies favored debtors at the expense of creditors, and it was proposed that Congress be given power to prevent such
populist Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasise the idea of "the people" and often juxtapose this group against "the elite". The term developed in the 19th century and has been applied to various politicians, parties, and moveme ...

populist
laws. When the government of Massachusetts refused to enact similar relief legislation, rural farmers resorted to violence in
Shays' Rebellion Shays Rebellion was an armed uprising in Western Massachusetts and Worcester, Massachusetts, Worcester in response to a debt crisis among the citizenry and in opposition to the state government's increased efforts to collect taxes both on individu ...

Shays' Rebellion
(1786–1787). This rebellion was led by a former Revolutionary War captain,
Daniel Shays Daniel Shays (September 29, 1825) was an American soldier, revolutionary and farmer famous for being one of the leaders and namesake of Shays' Rebellion Shays Rebellion was an armed uprising in Western Massachusetts and Worcester, Massachusetts, ...

Daniel Shays
, a small farmer with tax debts, who had never received payment for his service in the
Continental Army The Continental Army was the army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land- ...
. The rebellion took months for Massachusetts to put down, and some desired a federal army that would be able to put down such insurrections. These and other issues greatly worried many of the Founders that the Union as it existed up to that point was in danger of breaking apart. In September 1786, delegates from five states met at the Annapolis Convention and invited all states to a larger convention to be held in Philadelphia in 1787. The Confederation Congress later endorsed this convention "for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation". Rhode Island was the only state that refused to send delegates, though it would become the last state to ratify the Constitution, in May 1790.


Operations and procedures

Originally planned to begin on May 14, the convention had to be postponed when very few of the selected delegates were present on that day due to the difficulty of travel in the late 18th century. On May 14, only delegates from Virginia and Pennsylvania were present. It was not until May 25 that a
quorum A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is the body of ethics, Procedural law, ...
of seven states was secured and the convention could begin inside the
Pennsylvania State House The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is the lower house of the bicameral Pennsylvania General Assembly, the legislature of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. There are 203 members, elected for two-year terms from single member districts. It is ...
. New Hampshire delegates would not join the convention until July 23, more than halfway through the proceedings. Among the first things that the Convention did were to choose a presiding officer, unanimously electing
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American soldier, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the Continenta ...

George Washington
to be the president of the convention and to select
James McHenry James McHenry (November 16, 1753 – May 3, 1816) was a Scotch-Irish Americans, Scotch-Irish American military surgeon and politician, statesman. McHenry was a signer of the United States Constitution from Maryland, initiated the recommendation for ...

James McHenry
to be the convention's secretary. The Convention then adopted rules to govern its proceedings. Each state delegation received a single vote either for or against a proposal in accordance with the majority opinion of the state's delegates. This rule increased the power of the smaller states. When a state's delegates divided evenly on a motion, the state did not cast a vote. Throughout the convention, delegates would regularly come and go. Only 30 to 40 delegates were present on a typical day, and each state had its own quorum requirements. Maryland and Connecticut allowed a single delegate to cast its vote. New York required all three of its delegates to be present. If too few of a state's delegates were in attendance, the state did not cast a vote. After two of New York's three delegates abandoned the convention in mid-July with no intention of returning, New York was left unable to vote on any further proposals at the convention, although
Alexander Hamilton Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757July 12, 1804) was an American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer, banker, and economist. He was one of the . He was an influential interpreter and promoter of the , ...

Alexander Hamilton
would continue to periodically attend and occasionally to speak during the debates. The rules allowed delegates to demand reconsideration of any decision previously voted on. This allowed the delegates to take straw votes to measure the strength of controversial proposals and to change their minds as they worked for consensus. It was also agreed that the discussions and votes would be kept secret until the conclusion of the meeting. Despite the sweltering summer heat, the windows of the meeting hall were nailed shut to keep the proceedings a secret from the public. Although William Jackson was elected as secretary, his records were brief and included very little detail. Madison's '' Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787,'' supplemented by the notes of Robert Yates, remain the most complete record of the convention. Due to the pledge to secrecy, Madison's account was not published until after his death in 1836.


Madison's blueprint

James Madison James Madison Jr. (March 16, 1751June 28, 1836) was an American statesman, diplomat, expansionist, philosopher, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the 4th president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. ...

James Madison
of Virginia arrived in Philadelphia eleven days early and determined to set the convention's agenda. Before the convention, Madison studied republics and confederacies throughout history, such as ancient Greece and contemporary Switzerland. In April 1787, he drafted a document titled, "Vices of the Political System of the United States," which systematically evaluated the American political system and offered solutions for its weaknesses. Due to his advance preparation, Madison's blueprint for constitutional revision became the starting point for the convention's deliberations. Madison believed the solution to America's problems was to be found in a strong central government. Congress needed compulsory taxation authority as well as power to regulate foreign and interstate commerce. To prevent state interference with the federal government's authority, Madison believed there needed to be a way to enforce the federal supremacy, such as an explicit right of Congress to use force against non-compliant states and the creation of a federal court system. Madison also believed the method of representation in Congress had to change. Since under Madison's plan, Congress would exercise authority over citizens directly—not simply through the states—representation ought to be apportioned by population, with more populous states having more votes in Congress. Madison was also concerned with preventing a
tyranny of the majority The tyranny of the majority (or tyranny of the masses) is an inherent weakness to majority rule in which the majority of an electorate pursues exclusively its own objectives at the expense of those of the minority factions. This results in oppress ...
. The government needed to be neutral between the various factions or interest groups that divided society—creditors and debtors, rich and poor, or farmers, merchants and manufacturers. Madison believed that a single faction could more easily control the government within a state but would have a more difficult time dominating a national government comprising many different interest groups. The government could be designed to further insulate officeholders from the pressures of a majority faction. To protect both national authority and minority rights, Madison believed Congress should be granted veto power over state laws.


Early debates

While waiting for the convention to formally begin, Madison sketched out his initial proposal, which became known as the
Virginia Plan The ''Virginia Plan'' (also known as the Randolph Plan, after its sponsor, or the Large-State Plan) was a proposal to the United States Constitutional Convention for the creation of a supreme national government with three branches and a bica ...

Virginia Plan
and reflected his views as a strong
nationalist Nationalism is an idea and movement that promotes the interests of a particular nation (as in a in-group and out-group, group of people),Anthony D. Smith, Smith, Anthony. ''Nationalism: Theory, Ideology, History''. Polity (publisher), Polity, ...
. The Virginia and Pennsylvania delegates agreed with Madison's plan and formed what came to be the predominant coalition within the convention. The plan was modeled on the state governments and was written in the form of fifteen resolutions outlining basic principles. It lacked the system of
checks and balances Separation of powers refers to the division of a state (polity), state's government into branches, each with separate, independent power (social and political), powers and responsibilities, so that the powers of one branch are not in conflict ...
that would become central to the US Constitution. It called for a supreme national government and was a radical departure from the Articles of Confederation. On May 29,
Edmund Randolph Edmund Jennings Randolph (August 10, 1753 September 12, 1813) was an American attorney Attorney may refer to: Roles * Attorney at law, an official title of lawyers in some jurisdictions * Attorney general, the principal legal officer of (or advis ...
, the governor of Virginia, presented the Virginia Plan to the convention. The same day, Charles Pinckney of South Carolina introduced his own plan that also greatly increased the power of the national government; however, the supporters of the Virginia Plan ensured that it, rather than Pinckney's plan, received the most consideration. Many of Pinckney's ideas did appear in the final draft of the Constitution. His plan called for a bicameral legislature made up of a House of Delegates and a Senate. The popularly elected House would elect senators who would serve for four-year terms and represent one of four regions. The national legislature would have veto power over state laws. The legislature would elect a chief executive called a president. The president and his cabinet would have veto power over legislation. The plan also included a national judiciary. On May 30, the Convention agreed, at the request of
Gouverneur Morris Gouverneur Morris ( ; January 31, 1752 – November 6, 1816) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States o ...

Gouverneur Morris
, "that a national government ought to be established consisting of a supreme Legislative, Executive and Judiciary". This was the convention's first move towards going beyond its mandate merely to amend the Articles of Confederation and instead produce an entirely new government. Once it had agreed to the idea of a supreme national government, the convention began debating specific parts of the Virginia Plan.


Congress

The Virginia Plan called for the unicameral Confederation Congress to be replaced with a
bicameral Bicameralism is a type of legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interac ...
Congress. This would be a truly national legislature with power to make laws "in all cases to which the separate states are incompetent." It would also be able to veto state laws. Representation in both houses of Congress would be apportioned according either to ''quotas of contribution'' (a state's wealth as reflected in the taxes it paid) or the size of each state's non-slave population. The
lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporated community in Apache County *Chambers, Nebraska *Chambers, Wes ...
of Congress would be directly elected by the people, while the upper house would be elected by the lower house from candidates nominated by state legislatures.


Proportional representation

Immediately after agreeing to form a supreme national government, the delegates turned to the Virginia Plan's proposal for proportional representation in Congress. Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, the most populous states, were unhappy with the one-vote-per-state rule in the Confederation Congress because they could be outvoted by the smaller states despite representing more than half of the nation's population. Nevertheless, the delegates were divided over the best way to apportion representatives. Quotas of contribution appealed to southern delegates because they would include
slave Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property Property is a system of rights that gives ...
property, but
Rufus King Rufus King (March 24, 1755April 29, 1827) was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat. He was a delegate for Massachusetts to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention (United States), Philadelphia Convention and was one of ...

Rufus King
of Massachusetts highlighted the impractical side of such a scheme. If the national government did not impose
direct tax Though the actual definitions vary between jurisdictions, in general, a direct tax is a tax imposed upon a person or property as distinct from a tax imposed upon a transaction, which is described as an indirect tax. The term may be used in econo ...
es (which, for the next century, it rarely did), he noted, representatives could not be assigned. Calculating such quotas would also be difficult due to lack of reliable data. Basing representation on the number of "free inhabitants" was unpopular with delegates from the South, where forty percent of the population was enslaved. In addition, the small states were opposed to any change that decreased their own influence. Delaware's delegation threatened to leave the Convention if proportional representation replaced equal representation, so debate on apportionment was postponed. On June 9, William Paterson of New Jersey reminded the delegates that they were sent to Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation, not to establish a national government. While he agreed that the Confederation Congress needed new powers, including the power to coerce the states, he was adamant that a confederation required equal representation for states. James Madison records his words as follows:


Bicameralism

On May 31, the delegates discussed the structure of Congress and how its members would be selected. The division of the legislature into an upper and lower house was familiar and had wide support. The
British Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind ...
had an elected
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporat ...

House of Commons
and a hereditary
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
. All the states had bicameral legislatures except for Pennsylvania. The delegates quickly agreed that each house of Congress should be able to originate bills. They also agreed that the new Congress would have all the legislative powers of the Confederation Congress and veto power over state laws. There was some opposition to the popular election of the lower house or
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...
.
Elbridge Gerry Elbridge Thomas Gerry (; July 17, 1744 ( OS July 6, 1744) – November 23, 1814) was an American politician and diplomat. As a Democratic-Republican he served as the fifth vice president of the United States A vice is a practice, behaviour, ...
of Massachusetts and
Roger Sherman Roger Sherman (April 19, 1721 – July 23, 1793) was an early American statesman and lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at lawAttorney at law or attorney-at-law, usually abbreviated in ever ...
of Connecticut feared the people were too easily misled by
demagogue A demagogue (from Greek , a popular leader, a leader of a mob, from , people, populace, the commons + leading, leader) or rabble-rouser is a political leader in a democracy who gains popularity by arousing the common people against elites, es ...
s and that popular election could lead to mob rule and anarchy.
Pierce Butler Pierce Butler (July 11, 1744February 15, 1822) was an Irish-American South Carolina rice planter, slaveholder, politician, an officer in the Revolutionary War, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He served as a state legislator, ...

Pierce Butler
of South Carolina believed that only wealthy men of property could be trusted with political power. The majority of the convention, however, supported popular election.
George Mason George Mason IV (October 7, 1792) was an American planter, politician and delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention The Constitutional Convention (contemporarily known as the Federal Convention, the Philadelphia Convention, or the Gran ...

George Mason
of Virginia said the lower house was "to be the grand depository of the democratic principle of the government." There was general agreement that the upper house or
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
should be smaller and more selective than the lower house. Its members should be
gentlemen A gentleman (Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from ...
drawn from the most intelligent and virtuous among the citizenry. Experience had convinced the delegates that such an upper house was necessary to tame the excesses of the democratically elected lower house. The Virginia Plan's method of selecting the Senate was more controversial. Members concerned with preserving state power wanted state legislatures to select senators, while
James WilsonJames Wilson may refer to: Politicians and government officials Canada *James Wilson (Upper Canada politician) (1770–1847), English-born farmer and political figure in Upper Canada *James Crocket Wilson (1841–1899), Canadian MP from Quebec ...
of Pennsylvania proposed direct election by the people. It was not until June 7 that the delegates unanimously decided that state legislatures would choose senators.


Three-Fifths ratio

On the question of proportional representation, the three large states still faced opposition from the eight small states. James Wilson realized that the large states needed the support of the
Deep South The Deep South is a cultural and geographic subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the la ...
states of Georgia and the Carolinas. For these southern delegates, the main priority was protection of
slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their . Slavery typically involves the enslaved person bein ...
. Working with
John Rutledge John Rutledge (September 17, 1739 – June 21, 1800) was an American Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father, politician, and jurist who served as one of the original Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, ass ...
of South Carolina, Wilson, along with Charles Pinckney of South Carolina and
Roger Sherman Roger Sherman (April 19, 1721 – July 23, 1793) was an early American statesman and lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at lawAttorney at law or attorney-at-law, usually abbreviated in ever ...
of Connecticut, proposed the
Three-Fifths Compromise#REDIRECT Three-fifths Compromise {{Redirect category shell, {{R from move {{R from alternative hyphenation ...
on June 11. This resolution apportioned seats in the House of Representatives based on a state's free population plus three-fifths of its slave population. Nine states voted in favor, with only New Jersey and Delaware against. This compromise would give the South at least a dozen additional congressmen and electoral college votes. That same day, the large-state/slave-state alliance also succeeded in applying the three-fifths ratio to Senate seats (though this was later overturned).


Executive branch

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. Even so, the form the executive should take, its powers and its selection would be sources of constant dispute through the summer of 1787. At the time, few nations had nonhereditary executives that could serve as models. The
Dutch Republic The United Provinces of the Netherlands, or United Provinces (officially the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands), commonly referred to in historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was ...
was led by a
stadtholder In the Low Countries The term Low Countries, also known as the Low Lands ( nl, de Lage Landen, french: les Pays-Bas) and historically called the Netherlands ( nl, de Nederlanden), Flanders, or Belgica, refers to a coastal lowland region in Nor ...
, but this office was usually inherited by members of the
House of Orange The House of Orange-Nassau (Dutch language, Dutch: ''Huis van Oranje-Nassau'', ) is the current dynasty, reigning house of the Netherlands. A branch of the European House of Nassau, the house has played a central role in the Politics and governmen ...
. The
Swiss Confederacy The Old Swiss Confederacy or Swiss Confederacy, Swiss Confederation (Modern German New High German (NHG) is the term used for the most recent period in the history of the German language, starting in the 17th century. It is a translation of t ...
had no single leader, and the elective monarchies of the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
and
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland, was a country and bi-federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is ...
were viewed as corrupt. As a result of their colonial experience, Americans distrusted a strong chief executive. Under the Articles of Confederation, the closest thing to an executive was the Committee of the States, which was empowered to transact government business while Congress was in recess. However, this body was largely inactive. The revolutionary state constitutions made the governors subordinate to the legislatures, denying them executive veto power over legislation. Without veto power, governors were unable to block legislation that threatened minority rights. States chose governors in different ways. Many state constitutions empowered legislatures to select them, but several allowed direct election by the people. In Pennsylvania, the people elected an executive council and the legislature appointed one of its members to be chief executive. The Virginia Plan proposed a national executive chosen by Congress. It would have power to execute national laws and be vested with the power to make war and treaties. Whether the executive would be a single person or a group of people was not defined. The executive together with a "convenient number" of federal judges would form a Council of Revision with the power to veto any act of Congress. This veto could be overridden by an unspecified number of votes in both houses of Congress.


Unitary executive

James Wilson feared that the Virginia Plan made the executive too dependent on Congress. He argued that there should be a single,
unitary executive The unitary executive theory is a theory of United States Constitution, United States constitutional law which holds that the President of the United States possesses the power to control the entire executive branch. The doctrine is rooted in Arti ...
. Members of a multiple executive would most likely be chosen from different regions and represent regional interests. In Wilson's view, only a single executive could represent the entire nation while giving "energy, dispatch, and responsibility" to the government. Wilson used his understanding of civic virtue as defined by the Scottish Enlightenment to help design the presidency. The challenge was to design a properly constituted executive that was fit for a republic and based on civic virtue by the general citizenry. He spoke 56 times calling for a chief executive who would be energetic, independent, and accountable. He believed that the moderate level of class conflict in American society produced a level of sociability and inter-class friendships that could make the presidency the symbolic leader of the entire American people. Wilson did not consider the possibility of bitterly polarized Political parties in the United States, political parties. He saw popular sovereignty as the cement that held America together linking the interests of the people and of the presidential administration. The president should be a man of the people who embodied the national responsibility for the public good and provided transparency and accountability by being a highly visible national leader, as opposed to numerous largely anonymous congressmen. On June 1, Wilson proposed that "the Executive consist of a single person." This motion was seconded by Charles Pinckney, whose plan called for a single executive and specifically named this official a "president". Edmund Randolph agreed with Wilson that the executive needed "vigor", but he disapproved of a unitary executive, which he feared was "the foetus of monarchy". Randolph and George Mason led the opposition against a unitary executive, but most delegates agreed with Wilson. The prospect that George Washington would be the first president may have allowed the proponents of a unitary executive to accumulate a large coalition. Wilson's motion for a single executive passed on June 4. Initially, the convention set the executive's term of office to seven years, but this would be revisited.


Election and removal

Wilson also argued that the executive should be directly elected by the people. Only through direct election could the executive be independent of both Congress and the states. This view was unpopular. A few delegates such as Roger Sherman, Elbridge Gerry, and Pierce Butler opposed the direct election of the executive because they considered the people too easily manipulated. However, most delegates did not question the intelligence of the voters, rather what concerned them was the slowness by which information spread in the late 18th century. Due to a lack of information, the average voter would be too ignorant about the candidates to make an informed decision. Sherman proposed an arrangement similar to a parliamentary system in which the executive should be appointed by and directly accountable to the legislature. A majority of delegates favored the president's election by Congress for a seven-year term; though there was concern that this would give the legislature too much power. Southern delegates supported selection by state legislatures, but this was opposed by nationalists such as Madison who feared that such a president would become a Power broker (politics), power broker between different states interests rather than a symbol of national unity. Realizing that direct election was impossible, Wilson proposed what would become the United States Electoral College, electoral college—the states would be divided into districts in which voters would choose electors who would then elect the president. This would preserve the separation of powers and keep the state legislatures out of the selection process. Initially, however, this scheme received little support. The issue was one of the last major issues to be resolved. Resolution was achieved by adjustment to the electoral college proposal. 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, was a contested issue. Most thought that the
House of Representatives House of Representatives is the name of legislative bodies A legislature is a deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kind of collective) who use parliamentary procedure Parliamentary procedure is ...
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 bloc, rather than individually. The Virginia Plan made no provision for removing the executive. On June 2, John Dickinson of Delaware proposed that the president be removed from office by Congress at the request of a majority of state legislatures. Madison and Wilson opposed this state interference in the national executive branch. Sherman argued that Congress should be able to remove the president for any reason in what was essentially a vote of no-confidence. George Mason worried that would make the president a "mere creature of the legislature" and violate the separation of powers. Dickinson's motion was rejected, but in the aftermath of the vote there was still no consensus over how an unfit president should be removed from office. On June 4, the delegates debated the Council of Revision. Wilson and
Alexander Hamilton Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757July 12, 1804) was an American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer, banker, and economist. He was one of the . He was an influential interpreter and promoter of the , ...

Alexander Hamilton
of New York disagreed with the mixing of executive and judicial branches. They wanted the president to have an absolute veto to guarantee his independence from the legislative branch. Remembering how colonial governors used their veto to "extort money" from the legislature, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania opposed giving the president an absolute veto. Gerry proposed that a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress be able to overrule any veto of the Council of Revision. This was amended to replace the council with the president alone, but Madison insisted on retaining a Council of Revision and consideration of the veto power was postponed.


Judiciary

In the English tradition, judges were seen as 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. On June 4, delegates unanimously agreed to a national judiciary "of one supreme tribunal and one or more inferior tribunals". The delegates disagreed on how federal judges should be chosen. The Virginia Plan called for the national legislature to appoint judges. James Wilson wanted the president to appoint judges to increase the power of that office. On June 13, the revised report on the Virginia Plan was issued. This report summarized the decisions made by the delegates in the first two weeks of the convention. It was agreed that a "national judiciary be established, to consist of one supreme tribunal". Congress would have the power to create and appoint inferior courts. Judges were to hold office Good Behavior Clause, "during good behavior", and the Senate would appoint them.


Alternative plans

The small state delegates were alarmed at the plan taking shape: a supreme national government that could override state laws and proportional representation in both houses of Congress. William Paterson and other delegates from New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and New York created an alternative plan that consisted of several amendments to the Articles of Confederation. Under the
New Jersey Plan The ''New Jersey Plan'' (also known as the Small State Plan or the Paterson Plan) was a proposal for the structure of the United States Government presented by William Paterson at the Constitutional Convention on June 15, 1787. The plan was cr ...

New Jersey Plan
, as it was called, the Confederation Congress would remain unicameral with each state having one vote. Congress would be allowed to levy tariffs and other taxes as well as regulate trade and commerce. Congress would elect a plural "federal executive" whose members would serve a single term and could be removed by Congress at the request of a majority of state governors. There would also be a federal judiciary to apply US law. Federal judges would serve for life and be appointed by the executives. Laws enacted by Congress would take precedence over state laws. This plan was introduced on June 15. On June 18,
Alexander Hamilton Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757July 12, 1804) was an American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer, banker, and economist. He was one of the . He was an influential interpreter and promoter of the , ...

Alexander Hamilton
of New York presented his own plan that was at odds with both the Virginia and New Jersey plans. It called for the constitution to be modeled on the British Government, British government. The bicameral legislature included a lower house called the Assembly elected by the people for three year terms. The people would choose electors who would elect the members of a Senate who served for life. Electors would also choose a single executive called the governor who would also serve for life. The governor would have an absolute veto over bills. There would also be a national judiciary whose members would serve for life. Hamilton called for the abolition of the states (or at least their reduction to sub-jurisdictions with limited powers). Some scholars have suggested that Hamilton presented this radical plan to help secure passage of the Virginia Plan by making it seem moderate by comparison. The plan was so out of step with political reality that it was not even debated, and Hamilton would be troubled for years by accusations that he was a Monarchism, monarchist. On June 19, the delegates voted on the New Jersey Plan. With the support of the slave states and Connecticut, the large states defeated the plan by a 7–3 margin. Maryland's delegation was divided, so it did not vote. This did not end the debate over representation. Rather, the delegates found themselves in a stalemate that lasted into July.


Apportionment


Connecticut Compromise

On several occasions, the Connecticut delegation—Roger Sherman, Oliver Ellsworth and William Samuel Johnson—proposed a compromise that the House would have proportional representation and the Senate equal representation. A version of this compromise had originally been crafted and proposed by Sherman on June 11. He agreed with Madison that the Senate should be composed of the wisest and most virtuous citizens, but he also saw its role as defending the rights and interests of the states. James Madison recorded Sherman's June 11 speech as follows: On June 29, Johnson made a similar point: "that in one branch, the people ought to be represented; in the other, the states." Neither side was ready yet to embrace the concept of divided sovereignty between the states and a federal government, however. The distrust between large and small state delegates had reached a low point, exemplified by comments made on June 30 by Gunning Bedford Jr. As reported by Robert Yates, Bedford stated:


Grand Committee

As the convention was entering its second full month of deliberations, it was decided that further consideration of the prickly question of how to apportion representatives in the national legislature should be referred to a committee composed of one delegate from each of the eleven states present at that time at the convention. The members of this "Grand Committee," as it has come to be known, included William Paterson of New Jersey, Robert Yates of New York, Luther Martin of Maryland, Gunning Bedford Jr. of Delaware, Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut, Abraham Baldwin of Georgia,
Elbridge Gerry Elbridge Thomas Gerry (; July 17, 1744 ( OS July 6, 1744) – November 23, 1814) was an American politician and diplomat. As a Democratic-Republican he served as the fifth vice president of the United States A vice is a practice, behaviour, ...
of Massachusetts,
George Mason George Mason IV (October 7, 1792) was an American planter, politician and delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention The Constitutional Convention (contemporarily known as the Federal Convention, the Philadelphia Convention, or the Gran ...

George Mason
of Virginia, William Davie of North Carolina,
John Rutledge John Rutledge (September 17, 1739 – June 21, 1800) was an American Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father, politician, and jurist who served as one of the original Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, ass ...
of South Carolina and Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania. The committee's composition heavily favored the smaller states, as even the large state delegates tended to be more moderate. While the Convention took a three-day recess in observance of the Independence Day (United States), Fourth of July holiday, the Grand Committee began its work. Franklin proposed and the committee adopted a compromise similar to the Connecticut plan. Membership in the House would be apportioned by population, with members elected from districts of forty thousand people. Each state would have an equal vote in the Senate. To gain large state support, however, Franklin proposed that the House of Representatives have exclusive power to originate bills concerned with raising money or government salaries (this would become the Origination Clause).


Revisiting the three-fifths ratio

The committee presented its report on July 5, but the compromise was not immediately adopted by the convention. For the next eleven days, the Convention stalled as delegates attempted to gain as many votes for their states as possible. On July 6, a five-man committee was appointed to allocate specific numbers of representatives to each state. It called for a 56–member House of Representatives and used "[t]he number of blacks and whites with some regard to supposed wealth" as a basis of allocating representatives to each state. The Northern states had 30 representatives while the Southern states had 26. Delegates from non-slave states objected to counting slaves as they could not vote. On July 9, a new committee was chosen to reconsider the allocation of representatives. This time there were eleven members, one from each state. It recommended a 65–member House with allocation of representatives based on the number of free inhabitants and three-fifths of slaves. Under this new scheme, Northern states had 35 representatives and the South had 30. Southern delegates protested the North's greater representation and argued that their growing populations had been underestimated. The Committee of Eleven's report was approved, but the divergent interests of the Northern and Southern states remained obstacles to reaching consensus. On July 10, Edmund Randolph called for a regular United States Census, census on which to base future reallocation of House seats. During the debate on the census, South Carolina delegates Pierce Butler and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney sought to replace the three-fifths ratio with a full count of the slave population. They argued that slave property contributed to the wealth of the Southern states and as such should be used in calculating representation. This irritated Northern delegates already reluctant to support the three-fifths compromise. James Wilson, one of the authors of the three-fifths compromise, asked, "Are slaves to be admitted as Citizens? Then why are they not admitted on an equality with White Citizens? Are they admitted as property? Then why is not other property admitted into the computation?" After fierce debate, the delegates voted to apportion representation and
direct tax Though the actual definitions vary between jurisdictions, in general, a direct tax is a tax imposed upon a person or property as distinct from a tax imposed upon a transaction, which is described as an indirect tax. The term may be used in econo ...
ation based on all white inhabitants and three-fifths of the slave population. This formula would apply to the existing states as well as any states created in the future. The first census would occur six years after the new federal government began operations and every ten years afterwards.


Great Compromise adopted

On July 14, John Rutledge and James Wilson attempted to secure proportional representation in the Senate. Charles Pinckney proposed a form of semi-proportional representation in which the smaller states would gain more representation than under a completely proportional system. This proposal was defeated. In a close vote on July 16, the convention adopted the Connecticut Compromise (also known as the Great Compromise) as recommended by the Grand Committee. On July 23, the convention decided that each state should have two senators rather than three. It rejected a proposal by Luther Martin of Maryland that senators from the same state cast a single joint vote, which was the practice in the Confederation Congress. Martin believed this was necessary if the Senate was to represent the interests of the states. Instead, the convention gave senators individual voting power. This accomplished the nationalist goal of preventing state governments from having a direct say in Congress's choice to make national laws.The final document was thus a mixture of Madison's original "national" constitution and the desired "federal" Constitution that many of the delegates sought.


Other issues


Federal supremacy

On July 17, the delegates worked to define the powers of Congress. The Virginia Plan asserted the supremacy of the national government, giving Congress authority "to legislate in all cases to which the separate States are incompetent" and stating that congressional legislation would take precedence over conflicting state laws. In a motion introduced by Gunning Bedford, the Convention approved this provision with only South Carolina and Georgia voting against. Four small states—Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland—accepted the expansion of congressional power. Later in life, Madison explained that this was a result of the Great Compromise. Once the small states were assured they would be represented in the new government, they "exceeded all others in zeal" for a strong national government. The Virginia Plan also gave Congress veto power over state laws. Madison believed this provision was crucial to prevent the states from engaging in irresponsible behavior, such as had occurred under the Confederation government. Gouverneur Morris feared the congressional veto would alienate states that might otherwise support the Constitution. Luther Martin argued that it would be too impractical and time-consuming, asking "Shall the laws of the states be sent up to the general legislature before they shall be permitted to operate?" The Convention rejected the congressional veto. In its place, Martin proposed language taken from the New Jersey Plan that was unanimously approved by the convention: "that the Legislative acts of the US made by virtue and pursuance of the articles of Union, and all treaties made and ratified under the authority of the US shall be the supreme law of the respective States . . . and that the . . . States shall be bound thereby in their decisions".


President's selection and removal

In June, the delegates voted to let Congress appoint the executive, but there remained concerns that this would make the executive branch subservient to the legislature. On July 17, the Convention returned to the topic. Direct election by the people was defeated by a nine to one vote. Luther Martin then proposed an amended version of James Wilson's idea for an electoral college, first introduced in June. Wilson had proposed that people vote for electors who would then select the president. Martin's version called for state legislatures to choose electors, but this was also defeated. Later, on July 19, Elbridge Gerry unsuccessfully proposed that governors choose electors, a policy that would have increased state influence over the presidency. After reaffirming Congressional selection, the delegates voted to allow the president to serve multiple terms, a reversal of their earlier decision to limit the president to serving a single, seven–year term. James McClurg of Virginia went further and proposed that the president serve a lifelong term "during good behavior". McClurg believed this would protect the independence of the executive branch, but this was rejected for being too close to monarchy. The Convention decided that the method of removing an unfit president would be legislative Impeachment in the United States, impeachment. At the time, impeachment was used by the British Parliament to depose the king's Minister of the Crown, ministers (see Impeachment in the United Kingdom).


Appointing judges

Needing a break from discussing the presidency, the delegates once again considered the judicial branch on July 18. They were still divided over the method of appointment. Half of the Convention wanted the Senate to choose judges, while the other half wanted the president to do it. Luther Martin supported Senate appointment because he thought that body's members would defend the interests of the individual states. Nathaniel Gorham suggested a compromise—appointment by the president with the "advice and consent of the Senate". While the meaning of "advice and consent" was still undefined, the proposal gained some support. On July 21, Madison offered an alternative compromise—the president would appoint judges but the Senate could veto an appointment by a two-thirds majority. This proposal would have made it very hard for the Senate to block judicial appointments. Madison's proposal failed to garner support, and the delegates ended by reaffirming that the Senate would appoint judges. On July 21, Wilson and Madison tried unsuccessfully to revive Madison's #Council of Revision proposal, Council of Revision proposal. While judges had a role in reviewing the constitutionality of laws, argued Gorham, mixing the policy judgments of the president with the legal judgments of a court would violate separation of powers. John Rutledge agreed, saying "judges ought never to give their opinion on a law till it comes before them".


Amendments and ratification

The delegates recognized that a major flaw with the Articles of Confederation was that any constitutional amendment required unanimous approval of the states. On July 23, the convention endorsed the need for a different way of amending the Constitution, but it was not prepared to vote on specifics. It also discussed how the completed Constitution would become law. Oliver Ellsworth and William Paterson argued that state legislatures should ratify the Constitution to align with precedent under the Articles of Confederation and because the legislatures represented the will of the people. Nathaniel Gorham argued that state legislators would reject the Constitution to protect their own power. George Mason believed that state legislatures lacked the authority to ratify the new Constitution because they were creations of the state constitutions. Mason argued that only the people acting through specially called state conventions could authorize a new government. Madison agreed with Mason. He considered the Articles of Confederation to be a mere treaty among the states, but a true constitution could only be adopted by the people themselves. By a vote of nine to one, the delegates voted to submit the Constitution to state ratifying conventions.


First draft

The Convention adjourned from July 26 to August 6 to await the report of the
Committee of Detail The Committee of Detail was a committee A committee or commission is a body of one or more persons that is subordinate to a deliberative assembly. Usually, the assembly sends matters into a committee as a way to explore them more fully than wo ...
, which was to produce a first draft of the Constitution. It was chaired by
John Rutledge John Rutledge (September 17, 1739 – June 21, 1800) was an American Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father, politician, and jurist who served as one of the original Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, ass ...
, with the other members including
Edmund Randolph Edmund Jennings Randolph (August 10, 1753 September 12, 1813) was an American attorney Attorney may refer to: Roles * Attorney at law, an official title of lawyers in some jurisdictions * Attorney general, the principal legal officer of (or advis ...
, Oliver Ellsworth,
James WilsonJames Wilson may refer to: Politicians and government officials Canada *James Wilson (Upper Canada politician) (1770–1847), English-born farmer and political figure in Upper Canada *James Crocket Wilson (1841–1899), Canadian MP from Quebec ...
, and Nathaniel Gorham. Though the committee did not record minutes of its proceedings, three key surviving documents offer clues to the committee's handiwork: an outline by Randolph with edits by Rutledge, extensive notes and a second draft by Wilson, also with Rutledge's edits, and the committee's final report to the convention. From this evidence it is thought that the committee used the original Virginia Plan, the decisions of the convention on modifications to that plan, and other sources, such as the
Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, ...
, provisions of the state constitutions, and even Charles Pinckney (governor), Charles Pinckney's plan, to produce the first full draft, which author David O. Stewart has called a "remarkable copy-and-paste job." Randolph adopted two rules in preparing his initial outline: 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. Much of what was included in the committee's report consisted of numerous details that the convention had never discussed but which the committee correctly viewed as uncontroversial and unlikely to be challenged; and as such, much of the committee's proposal would ultimately be incorporated into the final version of the Constitution without debate. Examples of these details included the Speech and Debate Clause, which grants members of Congress immunity for comments made in their jobs, and the rules for organizing the House of Representatives and the Senate. However, Rutledge, himself a former state governor, was determined that while the new national government should be stronger than the Confederation government had been, the national government's power over the states should not be limitless; and at Rutledge's urging, the committee went beyond what the convention had proposed. As Stewart describes it, the committee "hijacked" and remade the Constitution, altering critical agreements the Convention delegates had already made, enhancing the powers of the states at the expense of the national government, and adding several far-reaching provisions that the convention had never discussed. The first major change, insisted on by Rutledge, was meant to sharply curtail the essentially unlimited powers to legislate "in all cases for the general interests of the Union" that the Convention only two weeks earlier had agreed to grant the Congress. Rutledge and Randolph worried that the broad powers implied in the language agreed on by the convention would have given the national government too much power at the expense of the states. In Randolph's outline the committee replaced that language with a list of 18 specific "enumerated" powers, many adopted from the Articles of Confederation, that would strictly limit the Congress' authority to measures such as imposing taxes, making treaties, going to war, and establishing post offices. Rutledge, however, was not able to convince all the members of the committee to accept the change. Over the course of a series of drafts, a catchall provision (the "Necessary and Proper Clause") was eventually added, most likely by Wilson, a nationalist little concerned with the sovereignty of individual states, giving the Congress the broad power "to make all Laws that shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof." Another revision of Wilson's draft also placed eight specific limits on the states, such as barring them from independently entering into treaties and from printing their own money, providing a certain degree of balance to the limits on the national government intended by Rutledge's list of enumerated powers. In addition, Wilson's draft modified the language of the Supremacy Clause adopted by the convention, to ensure that national law would take precedence over inconsistent state laws. These changes set the final balance between the national and state governments that would be entered into the final document, as the Convention never challenged this dual-sovereignty between nation and state that had been fashioned by Rutledge and Wilson. Another set of radical changes introduced by the Committee of Detail proved far more contentious when the committee's report was presented to the convention. On the day the convention had agreed to appoint the committee, Southerner Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of South Carolina, had warned of dire consequences should the committee fail to include protections for slavery in the Southern states, or allow for taxing of Southern agricultural exports. In response to Pinckney and his fellow Southern delegates, the committee had included three provisions that explicitly restricted the Congress' authority in ways favorable to Southern interests. The proposed language would bar the Congress from ever interfering with the slave trade. It would also prohibit taxation of exports, and would require that any legislation concerning regulation of foreign commerce through tariffs or quotas (that is, any laws akin to England's "Navigation Acts") pass only with two-thirds majorities of both houses of Congress. While much of the rest of the committee's report would be accepted without serious challenge on the Convention floor, these last three proposals provoked outrage from Northern delegates and slavery opponents. The final report of the 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

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 Atlantic slave trade, slave trade starting 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" (regulations of commerce between states and foreign governments). The two-thirds requirement was favored by southern delegates, who thought Congress might pass navigation acts that would be economically harmful to slaveholders. 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'', freedom of the press, and an executive council to advise the president. Two committees 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. Its members, such as Madison, were delegates who had shown a greater desire for compromise and were chosen for this reason as most in the Convention wanted to finish their work and go home. The committee dealt with questions related to the taxes, war making, patents and copyrights, relations with indigenous 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 an 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 shortened the president's term from seven years to four years, freed the president to seek re-election after an initial term, and moved Impeachment in the United States, impeachment trials from the courts to the Senate. They also created the office of the vice president, whose only roles were to succeed a president unable to complete a term of office, to preside over the Senate, and to cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate. The committee transferred important powers from the Senate to the president, for example the power 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 the president was to be term limited. The problem had resulted from the understanding that the president would be chosen by Congress; the decision to have the president be chosen instead by an electoral college reduced the chance of the president becoming beholden to Congress, so a shorter term with eligibility for re-election 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. Some have argued that Randolph's attacks on the Constitution were motivated by political ambition, in particular his anticipation of possibly facing rival Patrick Henry in a future election. The main objection of the three was the compromise that would allow Congress to pass "navigation acts" with a simple majority in exchange for strengthened slave provisions. Among their other objections was an opposition to 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 also convinced the convention to include a second method for ratification of amendments. The report out of the Committee of Detail had included only one mechanism for constitutional amendment that required two-thirds of the states to ask Congress to convene a convention for consideration of amendments. Upon Gerry's urging, the Convention added back the Virginia Plan's original method whereby Congress would propose amendments that the states would then ratify. All amendments to the Constitution, save the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution, 21st amendment, have been made through this latter method. Despite their successes, these three dissenters grew increasingly unpopular as most other delegates wanted to bring the convention's business to an end and return home. As the convention was drawing to a conclusion, and delegates prepared to refer the Constitution to the Committee on Style to pen 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, 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, with the absence of a bill of rights becoming the main argument of the anti-Federalists against ratification. Most of the convention's delegates thought that states already protected individual rights, and that the Constitution did not authorize the national government to take away rights, so there was no need to include protections of rights. Once the Convention moved beyond this point, the delegates addressed a couple of last-minute issues. Importantly, they modified the language that required spending bills to originate in the House of Representatives and be flatly accepted or rejected, unmodified, by the Senate. The new language empowered the Senate to modify spending bills proposed by the House.


Drafting and signing

Once the final modifications had been made, the Committee of Style and Arrangement was appointed "to revise the style of and arrange the articles which had been agreed to by the house." 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 mostly supported a strong national government and were unsympathetic to calls for states' rights. They were William Samuel Johnson (Connecticut),
Alexander Hamilton Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757July 12, 1804) was an American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer, banker, and economist. He was one of the . He was an influential interpreter and promoter of the , ...

Alexander Hamilton
(New York),
Gouverneur Morris Gouverneur Morris ( ; January 31, 1752 – November 6, 1816) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States o ...

Gouverneur Morris
(Pennsylvania),
James Madison James Madison Jr. (March 16, 1751June 28, 1836) was an American statesman, diplomat, expansionist, philosopher, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the 4th president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. ...

James Madison
(Virginia), and
Rufus King Rufus King (March 24, 1755April 29, 1827) was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat. He was a delegate for Massachusetts to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention (United States), Philadelphia Convention and was one of ...

Rufus King
(Massachusetts). On Wednesday, September 12, the report of the "committee of style" was ordered printed for the convenience of the delegates. For three days, the Convention compared this final version with the proceedings of the convention. The Constitution was then ordered engrossed on Saturday, September 15 by Jacob Shallus, and 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 interfering in contracts. Although the Convention never took up the matter, his language was now inserted, creating the contract clause. Gouverneur Morris is credited, both now and then, as the chief draftsman of the final document, including the stirring preamble. 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 Jennings Randolph (August 10, 1753 September 12, 1813) was an American attorney Attorney may refer to: Roles * Attorney at law, an official title of lawyers in some jurisdictions * Attorney general, the principal legal officer of (or advis ...
of Virginia,
George Mason George Mason IV (October 7, 1792) was an American planter, politician and delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention The Constitutional Convention (contemporarily known as the Federal Convention, the Philadelphia Convention, or the Gran ...

George Mason
of Virginia, and
Elbridge Gerry Elbridge Thomas Gerry (; July 17, 1744 ( OS July 6, 1744) – November 23, 1814) was an American politician and diplomat. As a Democratic-Republican he served as the fifth vice president of the United States A vice is a practice, behaviour, ...
of Massachusetts. Mason demanded a Bill of rights, Bill of Rights 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 (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American soldier, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the Continenta ...

George Washington
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. Gorham would sign the document, although he had openly doubted whether the United States would remain a single, unified nation for more than 150 years. Ultimately, 39 of the 55 delegates who attended (74 had been chosen from 12 states) ended up signing, but it is likely that none were completely satisfied. Their views were summed up by Benjamin Franklin, who said, "I confess that 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. At the time the document was signed, Franklin gave a persuasive speech involving an anecdote on a sun that was painted on the back of Washington's Chippendale furniture, Chippendale chair."Rising Sun" in ''The Constitutional Convention of 1787: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of America's Founding'', Vol. 1 (ed. John R. Vile: ABC-CLIO, 2005), p. 681. As recounted in Madison's notes:
Whilst the last members were signing it Doctor. Franklin looking towards the Presidents Chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him, that Painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun. I have said he, often and often in the course of the Session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting: But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting Sun.
The Constitution was then submitted to the states for ratification, pursuant to its own United States Constitution#Article Seven: Ratification, Article VII.


Slavery

Slavery in the United States, Slavery was one of the most difficult issues confronting the delegates. Slavery was widespread in the states at the time of the convention. At least a third of the convention's 55 delegates owned slaves, including all of the delegates from Virginia and South Carolina. Slaves comprised approximately one-fifth of the population of the states, and apart from northernmost New England, where slavery had largely been eliminated, slaves lived in all regions of the country. However, more than 90% of the slaves lived in the South, where approximately 1 in 3 families owned slaves (in the largest and wealthiest state, Virginia, that figure was nearly 1 in 2 families). The entire agrarian economy of the South was based on slave labor, and the Southern delegates to the convention were unwilling to accept any proposal that they believed would threaten the institution.


Commerce and Slave Trade Compromise

Whether slavery was to be regulated under the new Constitution was a matter of such intense conflict between the North and South that several Southern states refused to join the Union if slavery were not to be allowed. Delegates opposed to slavery were forced to yield in their demands that slavery be outlawed within the new nation. However, they continued to argue that the Constitution should prohibit the states from participating in the international slave trade, including in the importation of new slaves from Africa and the export of slaves to other countries. The Convention postponed making a final decision on the international slave trade until late in the deliberations because of the contentious nature of the issue. During the convention's late July recess, the Committee of Detail had inserted language that would prohibit the federal government from attempting to ban international slave trading and from imposing taxes on the purchase or sale of slaves. The convention could not agree on these provisions when the subject came up again in late August, so they referred the matter to an eleven-member committee for further discussion. This committee helped work out a compromise: Congress would have the power to ban the international slave trade, but not for another twenty years (that is, not until 1808). In exchange for this concession, the federal government's power to regulate foreign commerce would be strengthened by provisions that allowed for taxation of slave trades in the international market and that reduced the requirement for passage of navigation acts from two-thirds majorities of both houses of Congress to simple majorities.


Three-Fifths Compromise

Another contentious slavery-related question was whether slaves would be counted as part of the population in determining representation of the states in the Congress, or would instead be considered property and as such not be considered for purposes of 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 become rare argued that slaves should be included in taxation, but not in determining representation. Finally, delegate
James WilsonJames Wilson may refer to: Politicians and government officials Canada *James Wilson (Upper Canada politician) (1770–1847), English-born farmer and political figure in Upper Canada *James Crocket Wilson (1841–1899), Canadian MP from Quebec ...
proposed the
Three-Fifths Compromise#REDIRECT Three-fifths Compromise {{Redirect category shell, {{R from move {{R from alternative hyphenation ...
. This was eventually adopted by the convention.


Framers of the Constitution

Fifty-five delegates attended sessions of the Constitutional Convention, and are considered the Framers of the Constitution, although only 39 delegates actually signed. The states had originally appointed 70 representatives to the convention, but a number of the appointees did not accept or could not attend, leaving 55 who would ultimately craft the Constitution. Almost all of the 55 Framers had taken part in the Revolution, with at least 29 having served in the Continental forces, most in positions of command. All but two or three had served in colonial or state government during their careers. The vast majority (about 75%) of the delegates were or had been members of the Confederation Congress, and many had been members of the Continental Congress during the Revolution. Several had been state governors. Only two delegates,
Roger Sherman Roger Sherman (April 19, 1721 – July 23, 1793) was an early American statesman and lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at lawAttorney at law or attorney-at-law, usually abbreviated in ever ...
and Robert Morris (financier), Robert Morris, would sign all three of the nation's founding documents: the U.S. Declaration of Independence, Declaration of Independence, the
Articles of Confederation The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 original states of the United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, ...
, and the Constitution. More than half of the delegates had trained as lawyers (several had even been judges), although only about a quarter had practiced law as their principal means of business. Others were merchants, manufacturers, shippers, land speculators, bankers or financiers. Several were physicians or small farmers, and one was a minister. Of the 25 who owned slaves, 16 depended on slave labor to run the plantations or other businesses that formed the mainstay of their income. Most of the delegates were landowners with substantial holdings, and most - except for Roger Sherman, Alexander Hamilton, and William Few - were very comfortably wealthy. George Washington and Robert Morris were among the wealthiest men in the entire country. Their depth of knowledge and experience in self-government was remarkable. As Thomas Jefferson in Paris semi-seriously wrote to John Adams in London, "It really is an assembly of demigods." Delegates used two streams of intellectual tradition, and any one delegate could be found using both or a mixture depending on the subject under discussion: foreign affairs, the economy, national government, or federal relationships among the states. *Connecticut ** Oliver Ellsworth* ** William Samuel Johnson **
Roger Sherman Roger Sherman (April 19, 1721 – July 23, 1793) was an early American statesman and lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at lawAttorney at law or attorney-at-law, usually abbreviated in ever ...
*Delaware ** Richard Bassett (Delaware politician), Richard Bassett ** Gunning Bedford Jr. ** Jacob Broom ** John Dickinson (delegate), John Dickinson ** George Read (signer), George Read *Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia ** Abraham Baldwin ** William Few ** William Houstoun (lawyer), William Houstoun* ** William Pierce (politician), William Pierce* *Maryland ** Daniel Carroll ** Luther Martin* **
James McHenry James McHenry (November 16, 1753 – May 3, 1816) was a Scotch-Irish Americans, Scotch-Irish American military surgeon and politician, statesman. McHenry was a signer of the United States Constitution from Maryland, initiated the recommendation for ...

James McHenry
** John Francis Mercer* ** Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer *Massachusetts **
Elbridge Gerry Elbridge Thomas Gerry (; July 17, 1744 ( OS July 6, 1744) – November 23, 1814) was an American politician and diplomat. As a Democratic-Republican he served as the fifth vice president of the United States A vice is a practice, behaviour, ...
* ** Nathaniel Gorham **
Rufus King Rufus King (March 24, 1755April 29, 1827) was an American lawyer, politician, and diplomat. He was a delegate for Massachusetts to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention (United States), Philadelphia Convention and was one of ...

Rufus King
** Caleb Strong* *New Hampshire ** Nicholas Gilman ** John Langdon (politician), John Langdon *New Jersey ** David Brearley ** Jonathan Dayton ** William Houston* ** William Livingston ** William Paterson *New York (state), New York **
Alexander Hamilton Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757July 12, 1804) was an American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer, banker, and economist. He was one of the . He was an influential interpreter and promoter of the , ...

Alexander Hamilton
** John Lansing Jr.* ** Robert Yates* *North Carolina ** William Blount ** William Richardson Davie* ** Alexander Martin* ** Richard Dobbs Spaight ** Hugh Williamson *Pennsylvania ** George Clymer ** Thomas Fitzsimons ** Benjamin Franklin ** Jared Ingersoll ** Thomas Mifflin **
Gouverneur Morris Gouverneur Morris ( ; January 31, 1752 – November 6, 1816) was an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States o ...

Gouverneur Morris
** Robert Morris (merchant), Robert Morris **
James WilsonJames Wilson may refer to: Politicians and government officials Canada *James Wilson (Upper Canada politician) (1770–1847), English-born farmer and political figure in Upper Canada *James Crocket Wilson (1841–1899), Canadian MP from Quebec ...
*South Carolina **
Pierce Butler Pierce Butler (July 11, 1744February 15, 1822) was an Irish-American South Carolina rice planter, slaveholder, politician, an officer in the Revolutionary War, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He served as a state legislator, ...

Pierce Butler
** Charles Cotesworth Pinckney ** Charles Pinckney **
John Rutledge John Rutledge (September 17, 1739 – June 21, 1800) was an American Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father, politician, and jurist who served as one of the original Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, ass ...
*Virginia ** John Blair Jr., John Blair **
James Madison James Madison Jr. (March 16, 1751June 28, 1836) was an American statesman, diplomat, expansionist, philosopher, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the 4th president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. ...

James Madison
**
George Mason George Mason IV (October 7, 1792) was an American planter, politician and delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention The Constitutional Convention (contemporarily known as the Federal Convention, the Philadelphia Convention, or the Gran ...

George Mason
* ** James McClurg* **
Edmund Randolph Edmund Jennings Randolph (August 10, 1753 September 12, 1813) was an American attorney Attorney may refer to: Roles * Attorney at law, an official title of lawyers in some jurisdictions * Attorney general, the principal legal officer of (or advis ...
* **
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American soldier, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the Continenta ...

George Washington
** George Wythe* *Rhode Island **''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.'' Several prominent Founders are notable for ''not'' participating in the Constitutional Convention. Thomas Jefferson was abroad, serving as the minister to France. John Adams was in Britain, serving as minister to that country, but he wrote home to encourage the delegates. Patrick Henry refused to participate because he "smelt a rat in Philadelphia, tending toward the monarchy." Also absent were John Hancock and Samuel Adams. Many of the states' older and more experienced leaders may have simply been too busy with the local affairs of their states to attend the convention, which had originally been planned to strengthen the existing Articles of Confederation, not to write a constitution for a completely new national government.


In popular culture

* The 1989 film ''A More Perfect Union (film), A More Perfect Union'', which portrays the events and discussions of the Constitutional Convention, was largely filmed in Independence Hall. * In the 2015 Broadway theatre, Broadway musical ''Hamilton (musical), Hamilton'', Alexander Hamilton's proposal of his own plan during the Constitutional Convention was featured in the song "Non-Stop", which concluded the first act.


See also

* Constitution Day (United States) * Convention to propose amendments to the United States Constitution * ''The Federalist Papers'' * Founding Fathers of the United States *History of the United States Constitution * National Constitution Center *Syng inkstand * Timeline of drafting and ratification of the United States Constitution * United States Bill of Rights


References


Notes


Sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* * * * *


External links


Constitutional Topic: The Constitutional Convention

Founders' Blog-Republishing Madison's notes on the convention 220 years later

TeachingAmericanHistory.org – The Constitutional Convention

Transcription from the Report from the Grand Compromise Committee

National Constitution Center

EDSITEment
Lesson Plan
The Constitutional Convention of 1787
(from the National Endowment for the Humanities)

in th
Rare Book and Special Collections Division
at the Library of Congress
Variorum Constitution, Text P
The Text of the Parchment Signed by the Convention Delegates
Variorum Constitution, Text F
The Text of the Printed Edition of the Constitution Authorized by the Convention {{good article American Revolution Conventions in Philadelphia American constitutional conventions Drafting of the United States Constitution 1787 in Pennsylvania Political compromises in the United States