Where did they meet to write the constitution

Constitutional convention (political meeting) - Wikipedia

where did they meet to write the constitution

Although they had gathered to revise the Articles of Confederation, Writing the Constitution On September 17, , 38 delegates signed the Constitution. United States: The Constitutional Convention. The Philadelphia Convention, which met in May , was officially called for by the old Congress solely. Delegates from each of the Thirteen Colonies met in Philadelphia in the and many of the Colonies had started to think that they were capable of governing themselves. It is the earliest form and draft of the Declaration of Independence.

They gathered in the same room where America's Declaration of Independence was signed in The first important decision was choosing a president for the convention. Several of the delegates urged the others to choose George Washington.

Washington was the most famous man in America. He had led the forces that won the war for independence from Britain. Washington was their choice. George Washington officially opened the convention with a short speech. He thanked the delegates for naming him president of the convention.

But he said the honor was too great. He asked the delegates to forgive him if he made mistakes. After all, he said, he had never been chairman of a meeting before. With those words, George Washington sat down. Here are two actors playing George Washington and James Madison. I believe I spoke only once in convention, and that to a minor point.

where did they meet to write the constitution

As president of the convention, you led the way. From the beginning, the delegates agreed that they had the right to change their decisions. This was the rule. The convention did not just discuss a proposal, vote on it, and move on to other issues. Any delegate could ask to again discuss any proposal or any decision.

And they often did. The same speeches that were made the first time were made again.

Constitutional Convention (United States)

So days, even weeks, passed between discussions of the same proposal. The delegates also agreed on a rule of secrecy. Guards were placed at the doors of the State House. Newspaper reporters were not allowed inside. And the delegates were not allowed to discuss convention business in public. The secrecy rule led people to think all kinds of things about the convention.

This was true especially in Europe. There, most people believed the convention was discussing how America could be ruled by a king.

Europeans said a republican government worked in a small country, such as Switzerland. But it would not work, they said, in a land as large as America. At the time of the convention, Thomas Jefferson was serving as America's representative to France.

The Constitutional Convention of in Philadelphia

When he learned of the secrecy rule, he was angry. He believed strongly in freedom of speech and freedom of the press. More than 40 years later, James Madison explained the decision behind the secrecy rule. Madison said that if the convention had been open to the public, no delegate would ever have changed his mind after speaking on an issue.

To do so would mean he was wrong the first time he spoke. And no delegate would be willing to admit to the public that he had made a mistake.

American History Series: The Founding Fathers Meet in Philadelphia to Write a Constitution

This was Madison's reasoning. If the meetings had been open, he said, the convention would have failed. Another rule helped the delegates speak freely.

They used a method of debate known as the committee of the whole. It was useful then and it is still used today in legislatures. Votes taken in the committee are not recorded as final votes. The committee of the whole provides a way for people to discuss ideas and vote, but also to change their minds.

where did they meet to write the constitution

To have the Philadelphia convention become a committee of the whole, the delegates needed to elect a chairman of the committee.

They chose Nathaniel Gorham, a judge from Massachusetts. Each morning at ten o'clock, the convention met and declared that it was sitting as a committee of the whole.

American History Series: The Founding Fathers Meet in Philadelphia to Write a Constitution

George Washington then left the president's chair. Nathaniel Gorham took his place. Just before four o'clock in the afternoon, the committee of the whole declared it was sitting again as a convention. Gorham would step down. They gathered in the room where America's Declaration of Independence was signed in seventeen seventy-six. The only other delegates there were from Pennsylvania.

One was Robert Morris. He raised much of the money to fight the American Revolution. Another was Gouverneur Morris. The two men were not related.

The Muppets Reenact the Continental Congress

Another Pennsylvania delegate was James Wilson. The men from Pennsylvania and Virginia spent that first day talking. They agreed to meet again the next morning.

Nobody seemed worried that there were no delegates from the other eleven states. After all, it took two weeks to ride a horse to Philadelphia from New Hampshire in the northeast.

And it took as many as three weeks to get to Philadelphia from Georgia in the south. For a while, it seemed the other delegates would never arrive. But then they started coming one or two at a time. The delegates agreed to start the convention as soon as seven states were represented.

New York sent three men. That was a surprise. Many people believed New York would refuse to send anyone at all. The governor of New York did not support the idea of a strong central government. But one of the New York delegates did. He was Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton served as an assistant to General George Washington during the revolution. He firmly believed the United States needed a strong central government. In fact, some people said he wanted the country ruled by a king.

Day by day, more delegates arrived in Philadelphia for the convention. Roger Sherman and Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut.

where did they meet to write the constitution

William Few and William Pierce of Georgia. Gunning Bedford and George Read of Delaware. Fifty-five men in all from twelve states. Pennsylvania sent the most delegates -- eight. Rhode Island sent none. A few of the delegates were very old. But many were in their twenties or thirties. The average age of the delegates was just forty-three years.

This respected group was missing two important persons — John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. At the time, Adams was serving as America's representative to Britain.

Jefferson was serving as the representative to France. Both men expected to continue their service to the new nation. So both were extremely interested in the convention in Philadelphia.

where did they meet to write the constitution

They exchanged letters with friends to learn what was happening. The convention did not have seven states represented until May twenty-fifth. On that day, it finally began its work. The delegates' first task was to name a clerk to write the reports of the meetings. They chose Major William Jackson. Major Jackson had asked George Washington to support him for the job. General Washington did so.

where did they meet to write the constitution

But Major Jackson was not a good clerk. He wrote down few details of the convention. Luckily, however, James Madison did. From the moment the convention began, Madison kept careful records of everything everyone said. He never stopped writing. Other delegates took notes, including Alexander Hamilton and Rufus King. But their reports were short and not complete. If it were not for James Madison, we would know little of what happened at that historic meeting in Philadelphia in seventeen eighty-seven.