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The drafting of the Constitution of the United States began on May 25, 1787, when the Constitutional Convention met for the first time with a quorum at the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to revise the Articles of Confederation, and ended on September 17, 1787, the day the Constitution drafted by the convention's delegates to replace the Articles was adopted and signed. The ratification process for the Constitution began that day, and ended when the final state, Rhode Island, ratified it on May 29, 1790. In addition to key events during the Constitutional Convention and afterward while the Constitution was before the states for their ratification, this timeline includes important events that occurred during the run-up to the convention and during the nation's transition from government under the Articles of Confederation to government under the Constitution, and concludes with the unique ratification vote of Vermont, which at the time was a sovereign state outside the Union. The time span covered is 5 years, 9 months, from March 25, 1785 to January 10, 1791.
March 25 • Maryland–Virginia conference convenes
March 28 • Maryland–Virginia conference concludes
January 21 • Conference to address certain defects of the federal government called
November 23 •
December 4 •
December 30 •
January 6 •
January 17 •
February 3 •
February 10 •
February 21 • Convention to discuss revisions to the Articles of Confederation called
March 3 •
March 6 •
March 8 •
April 23 •
May 5 •
May 14 • Constitutional Convention scheduled to begin
May 14 •
May 17 •
May 25 • Constitutional Convention convenes
May 29 •
May 29 •
May 30 •
June 15 •
June 18 •
July 2 •
July 12 •
July 16 •
July 24 •
August 6 •
August 18 •
August 22 •
August 25 •
August 31 •
September 1–8 •
September 8 •
September 12 •
September 13–14 •
September 15 •
September 17 • Constitution signed and convention adjourns
September 18 • Proposed Constitution published
September 20 •
September 27 •
September 28 •
October 5 •
October 8 •
October 18 •
October 27 •
November 20 •
December 3 •
December 7 • Ratification
December 11 •
December 12 • Ratification
December 18 • Ratification
December 18 •
December 25 •
January 2 • Ratification
January 3 •
January 9 • Ratification
January 9 •
February 6 • Ratification
February 13–22 •
March 1 •
March 24 •
April 10 •
April 21 •
April 28 • Ratification
May 12 •
May 23 • Ratification
June 2 •
June 17 •
June 18 •
June 21 • Ratification
June 21 •
June 25 • Ratification
July 2 •
July 21 – August 2 •
July 26 • Ratification
September 13 •
December 15, 1788 – January 10, 1789 • Presidential election held
February 4 • Electoral College convenes
March 4 • United States Congress convenes
April 1 • House of Representatives achieves its first quorum
April 6 • Senate achieves its first quorum
April 6 • Electoral votes counted
April 21 • John Adams assumes vice presidential duties
April 30 • George Washington assumes presidential duties
September 25 • Constitutional amendments proposed by Congress
November 16 •
November 21 • Ratification
February 2 • Supreme Court of the United States convenes
March 1–6 •
May 24 •
May 29 • Ratification
January 6 •
January 10 • Ratification and application
James Madison Jr. was an American statesman, lawyer, diplomat, philosopher and Founding Father who served as the fourth president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. He is hailed as the "Father of the Constitution" for his pivotal role in drafting and promoting the Constitution of the United States and the United States Bill of Rights. He co-wrote The Federalist Papers, co-founded the Democratic-Republican Party, and served as the fifth United States secretary of State from 1801 to 1809.
The Continental Congress was initially a convention of delegates from a number of British American colonies at the height of the American Revolution, acted collectively for the people of the Thirteen Colonies that ultimately became the United States of America. After declaring the colonies independent from the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1776, it acted as the provisional governing structure for the collective United States, while most government functions remained in the individual states. The term most specifically refers to the First Continental Congress of 1774 and the Second Continental Congress of 1775–1781. More broadly, it also refers to the Congress of the Confederation of 1781–1789, thus covering the three congressional bodies of the Thirteen Colonies and the United States that met between 1774 and the inauguration of a new government in 1789 under the United States Constitution.
The Federalist Papers is a collection of 85 articles and essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay under the pseudonym "Publius" to promote the ratification of the United States Constitution. The collection was commonly known as The Federalist until the name The Federalist Papers emerged in the 20th century.
George Mason IV was an American planter, politician and delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, one of three delegates who refused to sign the Constitution. His writings, including substantial portions of the Fairfax Resolves of 1774, the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776, and his Objections to this Constitution of Government (1787) opposing ratification, have exercised a significant influence on American political thought and events. The Virginia Declaration of Rights, which Mason principally authored, served as a basis for the United States Bill of Rights, of which he has been deemed the father.
The Virginia Plan was a proposal by Virginia delegates for a bicameral legislative branch. The plan was drafted by James Madison while he waited for a quorum to assemble at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The Virginia Plan was notable for its role in setting the overall agenda for debate in the convention and, in particular, for setting forth the idea of population-weighted representation in the proposed national legislature.
Anti-Federalism was a late-18th century movement that opposed the creation of a stronger U.S. federal government and which later opposed the ratification of the 1787 Constitution. The previous constitution, called the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, gave state governments more authority. Led by Patrick Henry of Virginia, Anti-Federalists worried, among other things, that the position of president, then a novelty, might evolve into a monarchy. Though the Constitution was ratified and supplanted the Articles of Confederation, Anti-Federalist influence helped lead to the passage of the United States Bill of Rights.
Article Seven of the United States Constitution sets the number of state ratifications necessary in order for the Constitution to take effect and prescribes the method through which the states may ratify it. Under the terms of Article VII, constitutional ratification conventions were held in each of the thirteen states, with the ratification of nine states required for the Constitution to take effect. Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution, doing so on December 7, 1787. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution, ensuring that the Constitution would take effect. Rhode Island was the last state to ratify the Constitution under Article VII, doing so on May 29, 1790.
The United States Constitution has served as the supreme law of the United States since taking effect in 1789. The document was written at the 1787 Philadelphia Convention and was ratified through a series of state conventions held in 1787 and 1788. Since 1789, the Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times; particularly important amendments include the ten amendments of the United States Bill of Rights and the three Reconstruction Amendments.
Richard Dobbs Spaight was the eighth Governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina from 1792 to 1795.:
Daniel Carroll was an American politician and plantation owner from Maryland, considered one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He supported the American Revolution, served in the Confederation Congress, was a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 which wrote the Constitution, and was a U.S. Representative in the First Congress. Daniel Carroll was one of five men to sign both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. He was one of the very few Roman Catholics among the Founders.
The Constitutional Convention took place from May 25 to September 17, 1787, in the old Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia. Although the Convention was intended to revise the league of states and first system of government under the Articles of Confederation, the intention from the outset of many of its proponents, chief among them James Madison of Virginia and Alexander Hamilton of New York, was to create a new government rather than fix the existing one. The delegates elected George Washington of Virginia, former commanding general of the Continental Army in the late American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and proponent of a stronger national government, to become President of the Convention. The result of the Convention was the creation of the Constitution of the United States, placing the Convention among the most significant events in American history.
Federalist No. 14 is an essay by James Madison titled "Objections to the Proposed Constitution From Extent of Territory Answered". This essay is the fourteenth of The Federalist Papers. It was published on November 30, 1787 under the pseudonym Publius, the name under which all The Federalist papers were published. It addresses a major objection of the Anti-Federalists to the proposed United States Constitution: that the sheer size of the United States would make it impossible to govern justly as a single country. Madison touched on this issue in Federalist No. 10 and returns to it in this essay.
In the United States, judicial review is the ability of a court to examine and decide if a statute, treaty or administrative regulation contradicts or violates the provisions of existing law, a State Constitution, or ultimately the United States Constitution. While the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly define a power of judicial review, the authority for judicial review in the United States has been inferred from the structure, provisions, and history of the Constitution.
The Virginia Ratifying Convention was a convention of 168 delegates from Virginia who met in 1788 to ratify or reject the United States Constitution, which had been drafted at the Philadelphia Convention the previous year.
The United States Bill of Rights comprises the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. Proposed following the often bitter 1787–88 debate over the ratification of the Constitution, and written to address the objections raised by Anti-Federalists, the Bill of Rights amendments add to the Constitution specific guarantees of personal freedoms and rights, clear limitations on the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and explicit declarations that all powers not specifically granted to the U.S. Congress by the Constitution are reserved for the states or the people. The concepts codified in these amendments are built upon those found in earlier documents, especially the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776), as well as the English Bill of Rights (1689) and the Magna Carta (1215).
The Congressional Apportionment Amendment is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that addresses the number of seats in the House of Representatives. It was proposed by Congress on September 25, 1789, but was never ratified by the requisite number of state legislatures. As Congress did not set a time limit for its ratification, the Congressional Apportionment Amendment is still pending before the states.
The Country Party was a political party in Rhode Island in the Confederation and early Federal periods, from about March 1781 until the death in office of its leader, Governor Arthur Fenner, in October 1805. At its peak of influence, it controlled the Rhode Island General Assembly and dominated state politics from 1785 to 1790. A stridently Anti-Federalist party, it was instrumental in resisting ratification of the Constitution and was the organized vehicle for political expression of popular views that led to Rhode Island both disrupting consensus among states under the Articles of Confederation and being the last of the original 13 states to ratify the Constitution.
The Confederation Period was the era of United States history in the 1780s after the American Revolution and prior to the ratification of the United States Constitution. In 1781, the United States ratified the Articles of Confederation and prevailed in the Battle of Yorktown, the last major land battle between British and American forces in the American Revolutionary War. American independence was confirmed with the 1783 signing of the Treaty of Paris. The fledgling United States faced several challenges, many of which stemmed from the lack of a strong national government and unified political culture. The period ended in 1789 following the ratification of the United States Constitution, which established a new, more powerful, national government.
Events from the year 1787 in the United States.
The New York Circular Letter was a solution reached in a controversy between Federalists and Anti-Federalists over ratification of the United States Constitution. The compromise built on earlier deals like the Massachusetts Compromise to call for the use of the Convention provision written into the newly ratified Constitution in order to get the amendments demanded by New York and other states.