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The Constitution of the United States
Text and Scans By: National Archives and Records Administration


Image of 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.

The Founding Fathers page features the biographies of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention.

You can read a transcription of the complete text of the Constitution. This page also provides hyperlinks to biographies of each of the 39 delegates who signed the Constitution.

The article "A More Perfect Union" is an in-depth look at the Constitutional Convention and the ratification process.

"Questions and Answers Pertaining to the Constitution" presents dozens of fascinating facts about the Constitution.

Page two of the U.S. Constitution was unveiled in its new encasement on September 15, 2000. Read remarks issued at the ceremony by John W. Carlin, Archivist of the United States, and Dr. Michael Beschloss.


You can also display high-resolution image of each of the pages of the Constitution:



Ratifying the Constitution...

On September 17, 1787, the document was signed and sent to Congress, which soon forwarded printed copies to the state legislatures. Then began the great debate. Madison, Hamilton, and Jay wrote the brilliant Federalist Papers. George Mason, Elbridge Gerry, and Patrick Henry led the Antifederalists in opposing it. Others joined in the argument, in pamphlets, articles, speeches, and letters. By June 21, 1788, conventions in nine states later approved it. Thus the States, which had so recently gained their independence, gave up some of their hard-won sovereignty "in Order to form a more perfect Union."

Image of James Madison Image: James Madison was not only the preeminent figure at the convention
but also played a leading role in the ratification process.

Signers of the Constitution

Abraham Baldwin

Richard Bassett

Gunning Bedford Jr.

John Blair

William Blount

David Brearley

Jacob Broom

Pierce Butler

Daniel Carroll

George Clymer

Jonathan Dayton

John Dickinson

William Few

Thomas Fitzsimons

Benjamin Franklin

Nicholas Gilman

Nathaniel Gorham

Alexander Hamilton

Jared Ingersoll

Daniel Of St. Thomas Jenifer

William Samuel Johnson

Rufus King

John Langdon

William Livingston

James Madison

James Mchenry

Thomas Mifflin

Gouverneur Morris

Robert Morris

William Paterson

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

George Read

John Rutledge

Roger Sherman

Richard Dobbs Spaight

Hugh Williamson

James Wilson

Federalist Papers

Control Number NWCTB-360-CONVENTION-ROLL1F105
Media Textual records
Descr. Level Item
Record Group 360
Item ROLL1F105
Title Voting Record of the Constitutional Convention
Dates 1787
Sample Record(s) (larger access file - 407098 bytes)
Creating Org. Constitutional Convention.
Record Type/Genre [Tallies]
Scope & Content For four months the delegates debated fundamental questions relating to government, power, and human nature. Each and every clause of the Constitution was painstakingly argued and resolved. The voting record reflects the countless diplomacies, concessions, and comprises that produced the Constitution. This page records the final vote taken September 15, 1787. Delegates to the Convention signed the proposed Constitution on September 17, 1787. William Jackson, who served as Secretary of the Convention, recorded the votes. Throughout the entire voting record, the column for Rhode Island is blank or blacked out, since that state chose not to participate in the Convention. The column for New York is blank only for the later stages of the Convention, as two of the three delegates from that state departed early.The voting record of the convention is in two bound volumes.
General Note Exhibit History: The exhibit history that follows is a composite for both volumes. "American Originals," December 1997 - December 1998, National Archives Rotunda, Exhibit no. 624.0192. "This Fierce Spirit of Liberty," June 1989 - December 1991, National Archives Rotunda, Washington, DC. "Washington Salutes Washington," February 1989 - August 1989, Museum of Science and History, Seattle, WA, Exhibit No. 1069.0002. "Creating the Constitution," October 1986 - March 1989, Exhibit No. 547.xxxx "The American Solution." May 1987 - September 1987, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, Exhibit No. 1032.0001. "Formation of the Union," National Archives Rotunda, January 1983 - September 1986.
Variant Control# NWDT1-360-CONVENTION-ROLL1F105
See Also Series Description
Access Unrestricted.
Use Restrictions None.
Items 1 item(s)
Contact Old Military and Civil Records (NWCTB), National Archives Building, 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20408 PHONE: 202-501-5395 FAX: 202-208-1903

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