Although we celebrate July 4, 1776, as the birth of our nation, I think it is more properly the day of conception.
Today, September 17, celebrates the true birth of the United States of America, the day our Constitution was signed. On September 17, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign the document they had created.
Who were the men who signed the original Constitution of the United States of America?
- Read, George, DE
- Bassett, Richard, DE
- Spaight, Richard Dobbs, NC
- Blount, William, NC
- Williamson, Hugh, NC
- Jenifer, Daniel of St. Thomas, MD
- King, Rufus, MA
- Gorham, Nathaniel, MA
- Dayton, Jonathan, NJ
- Carroll, Daniel, MD
- Few, William, GA
- Baldwin, Abraham, GA
- Langdon, John, NH
- Gilman, Nicholas, NH
- Livingston, William, NJ
- Paterson, William, NJ
- Mifflin, Thomas, PA
- Clymer, George, PA
- FitzSimons, Thomas, PA
- Ingersoll, Jared, PA
- Bedford, Gunning, Jr., DE
- Brearley, David, NJ
- Dickinson, John, DE
- Blair, John, VA
- Broom, Jacob, DE
- Jackson, William, Secretary
I didn’t learn much about the Constitutional Convention in school. Perhaps I did, but the information went in one ear and out the other. Apparently, the original stated purpose of the Convention was to ratify the Articles of Confederation which were written in 1776-1777.
Some of our founding fathers had other ideas, however, intending to remake our government, rather than “fix” the one created a decade earlier. The result was our Constitution.
According to Wikipedia:
The most contentious disputes revolved around the composition and election of the Senate, how “proportional representation” was to be defined (whether to include slaves or other property), whether to divide the executive power between three persons or invest the power into a single president, how to elect the president, how long his term was to be and whether he could run for reelection, what offenses should be impeachable, the nature of a fugitive slave clause, whether to allow the abolition of the slave trade, and whether judges should be chosen by the legislature or executive. Most of the time during the Convention was spent on deciding these issues, while the powers of legislature, executive, and judiciary were not heavily disputed. Once the Convention began, the delegates first agreed on the principles of the Convention, then they agreed on Madison’s Virginia Plan and began to modify it. A Committee of Detail assembled during the July 4 recess and produced a rough draft. Most of this rough draft remained in place, and can be found in the final version of the constitution. After the final issues were resolved, the Committee on Style produced the final version, and it was voted on and sent to the states.
What we got was a Republic, and as we have all read:
Woman (to Benjamin Franklin): “Well, Doctor, what have we got – a Republic or a Monarchy?”
Benjamin Franklin: “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
-McHenry, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787
There are many web sources of information about the Convention. If you would like to explore further, here is just one:
Imprimus (Hillsdale College) has some interesting general articles about the U.S. Constitution and Constitutional considerations: