Timeline of drafting and ratification of the United States Constitution - Wikipedia
Four years after the United States won its independence from England, The convention was divided over the issue of state representation in. The drafting of the Constitution of the United States began on May 25, , when the Constitutional Convention met for the first time with a quorum during the Constitutional Convention and afterward while the Constitution was before the states for .. Presidential electors meet to cast their votes in their respective states. The hundred day debate known as the Constitutional Convention was one of the So, on July 24 of that year, the Committee of Detail was enacted to handle.
ConnecticutGeorgiaMaryland and South Carolinadid not appoint delegates. Nicholas Gilman and John Langdon will attend. Richard BassettGunning Bedford, Jr. Alexander HamiltonJohn Lansing, Jr. George Washington is elected president of the convention.
William Jackson is selected as the secretary to the convention. Alexander Hamilton, Charles Pinckney and George Wythe are chosen to prepare rules for the convention. Like the Declaration of Independencethe Constitution was written by delegates immersed in 1 the writings of Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, and Montesquieu, and 2 a world of political experience at both the state and continental level.
Both basic documents were written in Independence HallPhiladelphia, and thirty signers of the Declaration in played a vital part in the creation and adoption of the Constitution How to Read the Convention Very few of the delegates selected were present at the appointed time for the meeting of the Grand Convention in Philadelphia on May 14, All the Virginia delegates were present, however, and fully settled into their accommodations.
During this waiting period, the Virginia delegates caucused with each other in an attempt to set the tone for the deliberations of the Convention and paid courtesy calls on prominent members of Philadelphia society.
Some entered a Catholic church for the first time. On May 25a quorum of seven states was secured. The first order of business was to elect a President, and George Washington was the obvious choice. William Jacksonyet another immigrant at the Convention, was elected Secretary of the Convention and he recorded the propositions and amendments as well as the vote tabulation.
James Madison took extensive Notes of the proceedings and although some scholars have questioned their authenticity and completeness, they remain the primary source for reproducing the conversations at the Convention.
Other delegates kept specific notes on certain days, there are letters back home to friends and loved ones, there are urgent bills sent for immediate payment that augment, and there are personal diaries, some more complete than others. The delegates also agreed that the deliberations would be kept secret.
The case in favor of secrecy was that the issues at hand were so important that honest discourse needed to be encouraged and delegates ought to feel free to speak their mind, and change their mind, as they saw fit.
Constitutional Convention (United States) - Wikipedia
The merits and demerits of the secrecy rule have been a subject of considerable debate throughout American history. Under the wholly federal Articles of Confederationonly the states are represented and the central government was restrained to the exercise of expressly delegated powers.
And under the state republican constitutions, the governor had very little authority, and the elected representatives were kept under close scrutiny. This wholly national republican plan is debated, and amended, over the next two weeksand the main features are adopted by the delegates in mid June over two alternatives: Hamiltonamong other things, envisioned a President for life.
Act Two portrays the Convention in crisis, in the sense that the delegates were at a stalemate. Far from the wholly national republican Virginia Plan being accepted, as we might very well anticipate when the curtain fell at the end of Act One, the delegates from Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, New York, and Mr. They argued that the Convention had exceeded the Congressional mandate because the Articles had in fact been scrapped rather than revised.
Thus the Convention had violated the rule of law. These delegates knew their Locke and Montesquieu and they relied on their own political experience which was remarkably extensive: A breakthrough occurs at the end of June when Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut suggests that we are neither wholly national nor wholly federal but a mixture of both.
Several delegates echo this theme and the Convention decides to move beyond the exclusively national or federal paradigms. The Gerry Committee is created to explore the ramifications of this suggestion that the people be represented in the House and the states be represented in the Senate.
Act Three focuses on the debates during August over the Committee of Detail Report, especially concerning the itemization of Congressional powers.
With the Connecticut Compromise in place, the delegates turned from the question of structure to the question of national and state powers. Under the Virginia Plan, Congress was empowered to do anything the States were incompetent to do.
The Presbyterian Synod of Philadelphia and New York convention was meeting to redefine its Confession, dropping the faith requirement for civil authority to prohibit false worship. Merchants of Providence, Rhode Island, petitioned for consideration, though their Assembly had not sent a delegation.
He carried grants of five million acres to parcel out among The Ohio Company and "speculators", including some who were attending the Convention. It was published much earlier and more widely circulated than today's better known Federalist Papers.
They agreed on Madison's plan, and formed what came to be the predominant coalition. By the time the Convention started, the only blueprints that had been assembled were Madison's Virginia Plan, and Charles Pinckney's plan.
Milestones: – - Office of the Historian
As Pinckney didn't have a coalition behind his plan, Madison's plan was the starting point for deliberations. Most importantly, they agreed that the Convention should go beyond its mandate merely to amend the Articles of Confederationand instead should produce a new constitution outright.
While some delegates thought this illegal, the Articles of Confederation were closer to a treaty between sovereign states than they were to a national constitution, so the genuine legal problems were limited.
Once this was done, they began modifying it. Madison's plan operated on several assumptions that were not seriously challenged. During the deliberations, few raised serious objections to the planned bicameral congress, nor the separate executive functionnor the separate judicial function.
The main exceptions to this were the dysfunctional Confederation Congress and the unicameral Pennsylvania legislaturewhich was seen as quickly vacillating between partisan extremes after each election. Since America had no native hereditary aristocracythe character of this upper house was designed to protect the interests of this wealthy elite, the "minority of the opulent," against the interests of the lower classes, who constituted the majority of the population.
An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be just, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.
Timeline of drafting and ratification of the United States Constitution
The Senate, therefore, ought to be this body; and to answer these purposes, they ought to have permanency and stability. Convention delegate Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts observed that "the great mercantile interest and of stockholders, is not provided for in any mode of election-they will however be better represented if the State legislatures choose the second branch.
The delegates also agreed with Madison that the executive function had to be independent of the legislature. In their aversion to kingly power, American legislatures had created state governments where the executive was beholden to the legislature, and by the late s this was widely seen as being a source of paralysis.
Furthermore, in the English tradition, judges were seen as being agents of the King and his court, who represented him throughout his realm. At the Convention, some sided with Madison that the legislature should choose judges, while others believed the president should choose judges.
A compromise was eventually reached that the president should choose judges and the Senate confirm them. Few agreed with Madison that the legislature should be able to invalidate state laws, so the idea was dropped. While most thought there should be some mechanism to invalidate bad laws by congress, few agreed with Madison that a board of the executive and judges should decide on this.
Instead, the power was given solely to the executive in the form of the veto. Many also thought this would be useful to protect the executive, whom many worried might become beholden to an imperial legislature.Constitution Hall Pass: The 1787 Constitutional Convention
The early debate[ edit ] Each state was allowed to cast a single vote either for or against a proposal during the debates in accordance with the majority opinion of the state's delegates. Thus, for example, after two of New York's three delegates abandoned the Convention in mid July with no intention of returning, New York was left unable to vote on any further proposals at the Convention, although Hamilton would continue to periodically attend and occasionally to speak during the debates.
The first are the rich and well born, the other the mass of the people. The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true in fact. The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right.
Give therefore to the first class a distinct, permanent share in the government. They will check the unsteadiness of the second, and as they cannot receive any advantage by a change, they therefore will ever maintain good government.
Can a democratic assembly, who annually revolve in the mass of the people, be supposed steadily to pursue the public good? Nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy. Their turbulent and uncontroling disposition requires checks. A minority wanted it to be apportioned so that all states would have equal weight, though this was never seriously considered.
Most wanted it apportioned in accordance with some mixture of property and population. Most accepted the desire among the slave states to count slaves as part of the population, although their servile status was raised as a major objection against this. The Three-Fifths Compromise assessing population by adding the number of free persons to three-fifths of "all other persons" slaves was agreed to without serious dispute.
That the lower house was to be elected directly by the voters was also accepted without major dispute. Few agreed with Madison that its members should be elected by the lower house.
James Wilson suggested election by popular vote versus election by state legislature, but his proposal was shot down 10—1 by the delegates.
Local papers even said little about the meeting of the Convention. Front side of the Virginia Plan Besides the problems of direct election, the new Constitution was seen as such a radical break with the old system, by which delegates were elected to the Confederation Congress by state legislatures, that the Convention agreed to retain this method of electing senators to make the constitutional change less radical.
The Connecticut delegation offered a compromisewhereby the number of representatives for each state in the lower house would be apportioned based on the relative size of the state's population, while the number of representatives in the upper house would be the same for all of the states, irrespective of size.
The large states, fearing a diminution of their influence in the legislature under this plan, opposed this proposal. Unable to reach agreement, the delegates decided to leave this issue for further consideration later during the meeting.
The delegates couldn't agree on whether the executive should be a single person, or a board of three. Many wished to limit the power of the executive and thus supported the proposal to divide the executive power between three persons. Another issue concerned the election of the president. Few agreed with Madison that the executive should be elected by the legislature.
There was widespread concern with direct election, because information diffused so slowly in the late 18th century, and because of concerns that people would only vote for candidates from their state or region. A vocal minority wanted the national executive to be chosen by the governors of the states. At the time, before the formation of modern political partiesthere was widespread concern that candidates would routinely fail to secure a majority of electors in the electoral college.
The method of resolving this problem therefore was a contested issue. Most thought that the house should then choose the president, since it most closely reflected the will of the people.