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Plain, Honest Men - Philadelphia 1787

Page history last edited by Mr. Hengsterman 2 years, 8 months ago


Plain, Honest Men - Philadelphia 1787

In an atmosphere of crisis, fifty five delegates met in Philadelphia
and forged a radically new of government through conflict, compromise, and fragile consensus.



'Image result for constitutional convention


The Constitutional ConventionPhiladelphia [1787]
Who were the 55 men who attended the Convention in 1787?




Snapshot of the Convention in Philadelphia

74 Delegates from 12 states sent to attend.The 55 delegates who attended the Constitutional Convention were a distinguished body of men who represented a cross section of 18th-century American leadership.


At 81, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania was the oldest delegate at the Constitutional Convention and at 26, Jonathon Dayton of New Jersey was the youngest.




Representing the old revolutionary generation


Only had attended the Stamp Act Congress (1765)

Only had signed the Declaration of Independence (1776)

Only a little more that ½ had served in the Continental Congress (1774-81)



Representing the people who the revolution cast up in the position of power in America:


22 had served in the Continental Army, under George Washington


55 of the delegates came from the top 5% of the American wealth pyramid (not the artisans and working men that framed state constitutions).


Notably Absent:

Thomas Jefferson was representing our country in France  


John Adams was doing the same in Great Britain. 


Patrick Henry " I smelt a rat"



Notable Attendees:


George Washington - Adult supervision 


James Madison - Meticulous note taker, Comes with a plan. Sets agenda for Convention; Influences 1787  

Ben Franklin - Much needed sense of humor


Alexander Hamilton - Strutting peacock from New York, Promotes a strong national government.


Simon Starr A Typical Delegate



House Speaker Paul Ryan on the Campaign trail







A Brilliant Solution - Compromises at the Constitutional Convention [1787]

A series of compromises form a Constitution for a new  national
government, while providing limits on federal power.


Brilliant Solution Quick Quiz


The new government’s second attempt at a constitution proved difficult.  Investing more power in the federal government was necessary but there was much debate over the amount and type of power it should have.  Many representatives at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 sought to preserve state control while others urged a dominant central government.  Without the compromises made at the constitutional convention, there probably would not have been enough support for the Constitution and it would not have been ratified by the states.


THE GREAT COMPROMISE Bi Cameral (two houses) 

DISPUTE: Populous states favored representation based on population while less populated states favored an equal number of representatives from each state.


TERMS OF COMPROMISE: Both large and small states were accommodated by a Congress made up of two houses.  Population would be the basis for representation in the House of Representatives.  In the Senate, all states would have equal representation, with two Senators representing each state.



DISPUTE: Southern states felt that slaves should be counted when determining representation for each state.  Northern states argued that only free persons should be counted when determining representation.


TERMS OF COMPROMISE: Population counts for the purpose of representation would include all free persons and allow slaves to be counted as well.  Every five slaves would be counted as three free people.



DISPUTE: Southern states sought no Congressional interference in the slave trade.  They also wanted to protect their cotton trade with Great Britain.  The Northern states wanted Congress to regulate both foreign as well as interstate trade.  This would allow only the national government, not each state, to impose tariffs.


TERMS OF COMPROMISE:  Regulation of foreign and interstate trade was controlled by the federal government.  In return, the slave trade would not be outlawed until 1808.  To guarantee the South’s cotton trade, export taxes were made illegal.



DISPUTE: Those wishing more democracy sought the election of the President directly by the people and election to a short term in office.  Those distrusting the common voter wanted to see the President elected by Congress and elected to a longer term in office.


TERMS OF COMPROMISE:  The President would be elected to a four-year term of office.  He would be elected indirectly by the people through the use of the Electoral College.



DISPUTE: Those favoring a strong national government felt the original Constitution provided enough protection of individual rights.  Anti-Federalists refused to vote for the Constitution without this written guarantee.


TERMS OF COMPROMISE:  The first ten Amendments of the Constitution were added to guarantee individual rights.  These amendments, called the Bill of Rights, include such rights as freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly, the right to bear arms, no cruel and unusual punishment, and rights of those accused of a crime.

















An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States 

is a 1913 book by American historian Charles A. Beard


A majority of the members [of the Constitutional convention] were lawyers by profession. 

Most of the members came from towns, on or near the coast... 

Not one member represented in his immediate and personal economic interests the small farming or mechanic [artisan] classes.


The overwhelming majority of the members [of the Constitutional convention], at least five-sixths, were immediately, directly, and personally interested in the outcome of their labors at Philadelphia, and were to a greater or lesser extent economic beneficiaries from the adoption of the Constitution. 

[Of the 74 delegates:] 
 40 were holders of public securities (holders of Continental and state debt) 
 24 were creditors (lenders of money) 
 15 were southern slaveholders 
 14 were involved in land speculation 
 11 were involved in manufacturing, commerce, and shipping










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