The Constitutional Convention of 1787 Made by Marcus becker and audrey wilkinson

Saving Our Nation

On May 25th, 1787, in the Pennsylvania State House, 55 delegates met to discuss how to form a stronger base for our nation and federal government. The delegates met and debated on a continuous basis over the course of around four months. The most influential figures of the Convention were Alexander Hamilton, Edmund Randolph, Governor Morris and James Madison. James Madison and Alexander Hamilton both proposed their own forms of government. The delegates elected George Washington to preside over their debates. The 55 men met and debated over the best method of governing our new nation, all with intense patriotism and passion. You will read about some of the most essential information, as well as the fierce conflicts and debates these men took part in while creating the framework of our government.

The Fall of The Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation was America's first constitution. This document established our governmental structure, but failed after a short 8 years of being in law. In 1876, Shay's Rebellion, a group of American farmers, protested the rising debt and economic mayhem that was occurring. Congress reevaluated the Article after Americans voiced their discontent. They revised it's many flaws, namely, the lack of court system and power in Congress. The Articles of Confederation was used as the backbone of the Constitution, and the creation of it forever changed American history and policy by teaching our Founding Fathers what components make a successful governing document.

The cover of The Articles of Confederation, the document recognized as the "rough draft" of the Constitution.
"In determining questions in the United States in Congress assembled, each state shall have one vote." - Articles of Confederation, Article V

One of the Confederation's major flaws was the confined number of votes regardless of state size or population, which made Americans feel disproportionately represented by their Congress.

"Our articles of confederation ought to be revised and measures immediately taken to invigorate the Continental Union. Depend upon it: there lies the danger for America." - Marquis de Lafayette

A French military officer, honorary American citizen, and one of the leaders of the American Revolution voiced his concern towards the Article. Voices with this much power changed the course of American history by bluntly stating their opinions.

A scan of the original Articles of Confederation, which outlined the format and some of the material that the Constitution took on.
"I fear a permanent Confederation will never be settled; tho the most material articles are I think got thro', so as to give great offence to some, but to my Satisfaction." - William Whipple

After the failing of the Articles of Confederation, Whipple, a signatory of the Declaration of Independence and New Hampshire representative, feared another alternative may never be agreed upon. Many Americans were concerned about the dependability of their new nation.

A scan of a stamp made to commemorate important moments in American history, including the drafting of the Articles of Confederation.

The Representation of States in Congress

Our founding fathers dreamt of a country where its citizens felt heard and represented by their government. That was their goal while writing the Articles of Confederation, which wrote that each state received one vote in Congress. Ironically, Americans felt their voices were not being heard in the national government. Regardless of populous or size, states got the equal amount of representation; thus, not representing America proportionately. At the Constitutional Convention, elected officials decided to make a change. They created the "Great Compromise," in which the House had memberships determined by state population, and the Senate, regardless of population, had two seats. The two branches of government allow smaller, less populated states to have the same amount of representation in one area, and larger, more populated states to have more representation in another. Both small and large states benefit equally from this compromise. The Great Compromise is still successfully in effect today, forever changing the course of American government and elections. This change allowed America to accurately represent its citizens, a concept that is still of of our nation's core values.

The original 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
"If a proportional representation takes place, the small States contend that their liberties will be in danger. If an equality of votes is to be put in its place, the large States say their money will be in danger. When a broad table is to be made, and the edges of planks do not fit, the artist takes a little from both, and makes a good joint." - Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin is quoted here using a metaphor to articulate how the Great Compromise was made. Franklin was very persuasive with his words, and American citizens were put at ease when Franklin gave his seal of approval.

A painting of the Constitutional Convention, George Washington has the floor.
“The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative…” — U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 2, clause 3

This excerpt of the American Constitution outlines the compromise made at the Convention, which allowed American's to be more proportionately represented.

Signing the Constitution, located at the Constitutional Convention.

The Massachusetts Compromise

After the Constitutional Constitution had taken place, and the Constitution had been signed, 9 of the existing 13 states needed to ratify the Constitution for it to be enforced as the governing document of our nation. There was a firm agreement after the Convention; states would either ratify the Constitution or not, no changes were to be made. All over the nation, Anti-Federalists wanted to reject the Constitution, and Federalists wanted to accept. Massachusetts, a large and prominent state, had a large third party that preferred the Constitution to the Articles of Confederation, but still had their doubts. The Massachusetts Ratifying Convention had a duration of over one month, and ended with Massachusetts deciding to ratify the Constitution unconditionally, while offering amendments for Congress's consideration. The majority of the states adopted Massachusetts's amendments, which created a stronger Constitution. The amendment process proves to be important, arguably mandatory, when the principles and ideals of our nation change over time and when we, as a nation, acknowledge an error in judgement; you will read more about this in our next section. This compromise led the way for the Bill of Rights, another major document in American history. The Bill of Rights guarantees our basic liberties, such as freedom of speech, religion, and fair trials. This compromise paved the way for major documents to come and solidified the groundwork of our nation.

An image of the most prominent Federalists in America, John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton.
This image shows the order in which states ratified the Constitution through a political cartoon-like display.
"Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood." – John Adams, 1765

This quote by our second president, John Adams, states the importance of liberty, a characteristic that the Massachutes Compromise and the Bill of Rights both exuded.

An image of the most prominent Anti-Federalists in America, Samuel Adams, George Mason, and Patrick Henry.

The Three-Fifths Compromise

The Three-Fifths Compromise was a compromise proposed by James Wilson and Roger Sherman, two of the 55 delegates at the Pennsylvania State House. The question of who was able to be counted for in the population was a contentious and heavily-debated issue. With the Three-Fifths Compromise, a slave was counted as three-fifths of a free white person when being counted for the population, and when determining the number of Representatives, Presidential electors and taxes a person would need to pay. This was enforced so Southern states, who had a greater number of slaves, would be given more political power. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was put in law in 1865, discounting the Three-Fifths Compromise. Americans are now equally counted for as entire people in the federal government. This compromise illuminated the racial inequalities and injustices that plagued our nation. Compromises like these showed the discrimination that was enforced by our government, and teach us now to learn from our mistakes, and to be more considerate and fair.

"Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons." - U.S. Constitution, Article 1, section 2, clause 3

This clause meant slave owners got a tax break, while African-Americans were not governmentally given the privileges as a whole person.

A moving image of a slave, illustrated promptly after the Three-Fifths Compromise Clause was enacted.
"Why should the blacks, who were property in the South, be in the rule of representation more than the cattle & horses of the North?" - Elbridge Gerry

This quote showed the true injustices the Constitution enforced, giving cattle more privilege than human beings.

An illustration visualizing the clause written into the U.S. Constitution, the Three-Fifths Compromise. This image shows the absurdity of counting people differently with taking population.
"The States should feel as little bias as possible to swell or to reduce the amount of their numbers....By extending the rule to both [taxation and representation], the States will have opposite interests which will control and balance each other and produce the requisite impartiality." - James Madison, The Federalist No. 54

James Madison, a slave owner, was in favor of this racially-discriminative rule, applauding its tax break and overall impact for the nation.

This picture shows the cruel reality of slavery, separating families and using physical abuse. This image is all the more heartbreaking when considering the lack of government rights slaves had.

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