The United States Constitutional Convention
(also known as the Philadelphia Convention
and various other names) took place from May 14 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia
, Pennsylvania. Although the Convention was purportedly intended only to revise the Articles of Confederation, the intention from the outset of many of its proponents, chief among them James Madison
and Alexander Hamilton
, was to create a new government rather than fix the existing one. Due to the difficulty of travel in the late 18th century, very few of the selected delegates were present on the designated day of May 14, 1787, and it was not until May 25 that a quorum of seven states was secured. The convention convened in the Pennsylvania State House
, and George Washington was unanimously elected as president of the convention
and William Jackson
was elected as secretary. Madison's Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787
remain the most complete record of the convention.
In late July 1787, the convention appointed a Committee of Detail
to draft a document based on the agreements that had been reached. After another month of discussion and refinement, a second committee, the Committee of Style and Arrangement, headed by Gouverneur Morris
, and including Hamilton, William Samuel Johnson, Rufus King, and Madison, produced the final version, which was submitted for signing on September 17. Morris is credited, both now and then, as the chief draftsman of the final document, including the preamble.
Not all delegates were pleased with the results and thirteen of them left before the ceremony, three of those remaining refused to sign: Edmund Randolph
, and Elbridge Gerry
. George Mason
demanded a 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 it anyway with the understanding that a bill of rights would soon follow.
39 of the 55 delegates ended up signing, but it is likely that none were completely satisfied. Their views were summed up by Benjamin Franklin
, who said,
"There are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them. ... I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. ... It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies..."
Delegates to the Philadelphia Convention on September 12, 1787, debated whether to include a Bill of Rights
in the body of the U.S. Constitution, and an agreement to create the Bill of Rights helped to secure ratification of the Constitution itself.
Ideological conflict between Federalists
threatened the final ratification of the new national Constitution. Thus, the Bill addressed the concerns of some of the Constitution's influential opponents, including prominent Founding Fathers
, who argued that the Constitution should not be ratified because it failed to protect the fundamental principles of human liberty
The Constitution was then submitted to the states for ratification, pursuant to its ownArticle VII
. Twelve articles were proposed to the States, but only ten, corresponding to the First through Tenth Amendments, were ratified in the 18th century. The first Article
, dealing with the number and apportionment of U.S. Representatives
, has never been ratified, and the second, limiting the power of Congress to increase the salaries of its members, was ratified in 1992 as the 27th Amendment
Delegates to the Constitutional convention