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Observing Constitution Day


Background


Detail from Page 1 of the U.S. Constitution

On September 17, 1787, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time to sign the document they had created. The National Archives and Records Administration celebrates this important day in our nation's history by presenting the following activities, lesson plans, and information. We encourage teachers and students at all levels to learn more about our Constitution and government.

Preparing the Constitution

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.

constitution

Who signed the Constitution?

Painting Depicting the Signers of the Constitution

Numbered Key of Singers' Identities

  1. Read, George, DE
  2. Bassett, Richard, DE
  3. Spaight, Richard Dobbs, NC
  4. Blount, William, NC
  5. Williamson, Hugh, NC
  6. Jenifer, Daniel of St. Thomas, MD
  1. King, Rufus, MA
  2. Gorham, Nathaniel, MA
  3. Dayton, Jonathan, NJ
  4. Carroll, Daniel, MD
  5. Few, William, GA
  6. Baldwin, Abraham, GA
  7. Langdon, John, NH
  8. Gilman, Nicholas, NH
  9. Livingston, William, NJ
  10. Paterson, William, NJ
  11. Mifflin, Thomas, PA
  12. Clymer, George, PA
  13. FitzSimons, Thomas, PA
  14. Ingersoll, Jared, PA
  15. Bedford, Gunning, Jr., DE
  16. Brearley, David, NJ
  17. Dickinson, John, DE
  18. Blair, John, VA
  19. Broom, Jacob, DE
  20. Jackson, William, Secretary

Image courtesy of Office of the Curator, Architect of the Capitol.


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