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Federal convention, the.

The representatives of twelve States assembled in convention at Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 to prepare a constitution of government for the United States of a national character. George Washington, a delegate from Virginia, was chosen president, and William Jackson, secretary. The convention was composed of some of the most illustrious citizens of the new republic. There was the aged Franklin, past eighty-one years of age, who had sat in a similar convention at Albany (q. v.) in 1754. John Dickinson, of Pennsylvania; W. S. Johnson, of Connecticut; and John Rutledge, of South Carolina, had been members of the Stamp act Congress (q. v.) at New York in 1765. Washington, Dickinson, and Rutledge had been members of the Continental Congress of 1774. From that body also were Roger Sherman, of Connecticut; William Livingston, governor of New Jersey; George Read, of Delaware, and George Wythe, of Virginia. From among the signers of the Declaration of Independence, besides Franklin, Read, Wythe, and Sherman, had come Elbridge Gerry, of Massachusetts, and Robert Morris, George Clymer, and James Wilson, of Pennsylvania. Eighteen members had, at the same time, been delegates to the Continental Congress; and among the whole number there were only twelve who had not at some time sat in that body. The officers of the Revolution were represented by Washington, Mifflin, Hamilton, and C. C. Pinckney. Of the members who had taken conspicuous posts since the Declaration of Independence, the most prominent were Hamilton, Madison, and Edmund Randolph. then the successor of Patrick Henry as governor of Virginia. The members who took the leading part in the debates were Gerry, Gorham, and King, of Massachusetts; Johnson, Sherman, and Ellsworth, of Connecticut; Hamilton and Lansing, of New York; Paterson, of New Jersey; Wilson, Gouverneur Morris, and Franklin, of Pennsylvania; Dickinson, of Delaware: Martin, of Maryland; Williamson, of North Carolina; and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Charles Pinckney, of South Carolina. Rhode Island refused to elect delegates to the convention.

The following is a full list of the members of the national convention: From New Hampshire—John Langdon, John Pickering, Nicholas Gilman, and Benjamin West; MassachusettsFrancis Dana, Elbridge Gerry, Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King, and Caleb Strong; ConnecticutWilliam Samuel Johnson, Roger Sherman, and Oliver Ellsworth; New York—Robert Yates, John Lansing, Jr., and Alexander Hamilton; New JerseyDavid Brearley, William Churchill Hous- [321]

Signatures to the Constitution.


Signatures to the Constitution.


Signatures to the Constitution.

ton, William Paterson, John Neilson, William Livingston, Abraham Clark, and Jonathan Dayton; PennsylvaniaThomas Mifflin, Robert Morris, George Clymer, Jared Ingersoll, Thomas Fitzsimons, James Wilson, Gouverneur Morris, and Benjamin Franklin; Delaware—George Read, Gunning Bedford, Jr., John Dickinson, Richard Bassett, and Jacob Broom; MarylandJames McHenry, Daniel of St. [324] Thomas Jenifer, Daniel Carroll, John Francis Mercer, and Luther Martin; VirginiaGeorge Washington, Patrick Henry, Edmund Randolph, John Blair, James Madison, Jr., George Mason, and George Wythe. Patrick Henry having declined the appointment, George McClure was nominated to supply his place; North CarolinaRichard Caswell, Alexander Martin, William Richardson Davie, Richard Dobbs Spaight, and Willie Jones. Richard Caswell having resigned, William Blount was appointed a deputy in his place. Willie Jones having also declined his appointment, his place was supplied by Hugh Williamson; South CarolinaJohn Rutledge, Charles Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, and Pierce Butler; Georgia—William Few, Abraham Baldwin, William Pierce, George Walton, William Houston, and Nathaniel Pendleton. Fac-similes of the signatures of the signers of the Constitution, copied from the original in the archives of the national government, are given on preceding pages. William Jackson was secretary.

A committee was appointed to report rules of proceeding by the convention. They copied them chiefly from those of Congress, and their report was adopted. Each State was to have one vote; seven States were to constitute a quorum; all committees were to be appointed by ballot; the doors were to be closed, and an injunction of secrecy was placed on the debates. The members were not even allowed to take copies of the entries on the journal. The injunction of secrecy as to the proceedings of the convention was never removed. At the final adjournment the journal, in accordance with a previous vote, was intrusted to the custody of Washington, by whom it was afterwards deposited in the Department of State. It was first printed, by order of Congress, in 1818. Robert Yates, one of the members from New York, took brief notes of the earlier debates. These were published in 1821, after Mr. Yates's death. Mr. Madison took more perfect notes of the whole convention, which were published in 1840; and a representation to the legislature of Maryland, by Luther Martin, furnished nearly all the material for the history of the Constitution of the United States (q. v.).

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