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The Constitutional Convention of 1787

Signing of the US Constitution

The Signing of the United States Constitution by Louis S. Glanzman, 1987
The United States Constitution (right)

Commissioned by the PA, DE, NJ State Societies, Daughters of the American Revolution. Independence National Historical Park Collection.
The United States Constitution, Courtesy of the National Archives

"It appears to me, then, little short of a miracle, that the Delegates from so many different States... should unite in forming a system of national Government, so little liable to well founded objections."

- George Washington to Marquis de Lafayette, February 7, 1788

This look at the Constitutional Convention provides a glimpse into the debates that resulted in an enduring framework of government. Read day-by-day entries recording the proposals, conflicts and compromises as the men struggled to live up to the resolution that had called them to Philadelphia to "render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union."

The entries begin on May 13, 1787, with the arrival of George Washington in Philadelphia and conclude on September 17, 1787, with the signing of the United States Constitution. The synopsis of each day's debates coupled with the words of James Madison, George Mason, Benjamin Franklin and others, provide an understanding of the sense of urgency and necessity motivating the men through a long summer of often tedious work.

George Washington, the Convention's president, marveled to the Marquis de Lafayette of the Convention's success, "We are not to expect perfection in this world; but mankind, in modern times, have apparently made some progress in the science of government."

Explore month by month the Constitutional Convention of 1787

MAY
JUNE
JULY
AUGUST
SEPTEMBER

Did You Know?

Photo of signing table

There are 39 names on the constitution but only 38 signers? John Dickinson of Delaware gave permission to his colleague George Read to sign his name if he wasn't present.