The Constitution of the United States Text and Scans By: National Archives
and Records Administration
The Federal Convention convened in the State House (Independence Hall) in
Philadelphia on May 14, 1787, to revise the Articles of Confederation. Because
the delegations from only two states were at first present, the members
adjourned from day to day until a quorum of seven states was obtained on May 25.
Through discussion and debate it became clear by mid-June that, rather than
amend the existing Articles, the Convention would draft an entirely new frame of
government. All through the summer, in closed sessions, the delegates debated,
and redrafted the articles of the new Constitution. Among the chief points at
issue were how much power to allow the central government, how many
representatives in Congress to allow each state, and how these representatives
should be elected--directly by the people or by the state legislators. The work
of many minds, the Constitution stands as a model of cooperative statesmanship
and the art of compromise.
Founding Fathers page features the biographies of the 55 delegates
to the Constitutional Convention.
On September 17, 1787, the document was signed and sent to Congress, which
soon forwarded printed copies to the state legislatures. Then began the great
debate. Madison, Hamilton, and Jay wrote the brilliant Federalist Papers. George
Mason, Elbridge Gerry, and Patrick Henry led the Antifederalists in opposing it.
Others joined in the argument, in pamphlets, articles, speeches, and letters. By
June 21, 1788, conventions in nine states later approved it. Thus the States,
which had so recently gained their independence, gave up some of their hard-won
sovereignty "in Order to form a more perfect Union."
Image: James Madison was not only the preeminent figure at the
but also played a leading role in the ratification process.
For four months the delegates debated fundamental
questions relating to government, power, and human nature. Each and every
clause of the Constitution was painstakingly argued and resolved.
The voting record reflects the countless diplomacies, concessions, and
comprises that produced the Constitution. This page records the
final vote taken September 15, 1787. Delegates to the Convention
signed the proposed Constitution on September 17, 1787. William
Jackson, who served as Secretary of the Convention, recorded the votes.
Throughout the entire voting record, the column for Rhode Island is blank
or blacked out, since that state chose not to participate in the
Convention. The column for New York is blank only for the later stages of
the Convention, as two of the three delegates from that state
departed early.The voting record of the convention is in two bound
Exhibit History: The exhibit history that follows is a
composite for both volumes. "American Originals," December 1997
- December 1998, National Archives Rotunda, Exhibit no. 624.0192.
"This Fierce Spirit of Liberty," June 1989 - December 1991,
National Archives Rotunda, Washington, DC. "Washington Salutes
Washington," February 1989 - August 1989, Museum of Science and
History, Seattle, WA, Exhibit No. 1069.0002. "Creating the Constitution,"
October 1986 - March 1989, Exhibit No. 547.xxxx "The American
Solution." May 1987 - September 1987, Library of Congress,
Washington, DC, Exhibit No. 1032.0001. "Formation of the Union,"
National Archives Rotunda, January 1983 - September 1986.
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