Timeline of drafting and ratification of the United States Constitution

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The following is a timeline of the drafting and ratification of the United States Constitution. The drafting of the Constitution 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 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, three years later. In addition to key events during the Constitutional Convention and afterward while the Constitution was before the states for their ratification, 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 are also included, as is the unique ratification vote of Vermont. Thus this timeline begins on March 25, 1785, the date when the Mount Vernon Conference, a meeting of delegates from Virginia and Maryland to discuss interstate commercial issues along their mutual water border, convened, and ends on January 10, 1791, when Vermont, which at the time was a sovereign state, voted to ratify the Constitution and to apply for admission into the Union.

1785[edit]

March 25 • Mount Vernon Conference convenes 
Delegates representing the states of Maryland and Virginia meet, initially in Alexandria, Virginia and then at Mount Vernon, the Fairfax County home of George Washington, to address issues of commerce, fishing, and navigation in the waters of the Potomac and Pocomoke rivers and the Chesapeake Bay
March 28 • Mount Vernon Conference adjourns 
The conference report, sent to and ratified by the Virginia and Maryland General Assemblies, contains thirteen clauses and is known as the Mount Vernon Compact.[1]

1786[edit]

January 21 • Conference to address certain defects of the Federal Government called 
Virginia General Assembly, with the Maryland Assembly's concurrence, invites all the states to attend a meeting on issues related to interstate commerce and trade.[2]
September 11 • Annapolis Convention convenes 
Delegates representing Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia meet at George Mann's Tavern[3] in Annapolis, Maryland to discuss ways to facilitate commerce between the states and establish standard rules and regulations. Appointed delegates from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Rhode Island either arrived too late to participate or otherwise did not attend.[4]
September 14 • Annapolis Convention adjourns 
The convention report, sent to Congress and the legislatures of the various states, contains a request that another convention be held the following May at Philadelphia to discuss amending the Articles of Confederation.[3]
November 23 • 
New Jersey elects delegates to the proposed constitutional convention. David Brearley, Jonathan Dayton, William Houston, William Livingston, and William Paterson will attend.[5]
December 4 • 
Virginia elects delegates to the proposed constitutional convention. John Blair, James Madison, Jr., George Mason, James McClurg, Edmund Randolph, George Washington, and George Wythe will attend.[5]
December 30 • 
Pennsylvania elects delegates to the proposed constitutional convention. George Clymer, Thomas FitzSimons, Benjamin Franklin, Jared Ingersoll, Thomas Mifflin, Gouverneur Morris, Robert Morris, and James Wilson will attend.[5]

1787[edit]

January 6 • 
North Carolina elects delegates to the proposed constitutional convention. William Blount, William Davie, Alexander Martin, Richard Dobbs Spaight, and Hugh Williamson will attend.[5]
January 17 • 
New Hampshire elects delegates to the proposed Philadelphia Convention. Nicholas Gilman and John Langdon will attend.[5]
February 3 • 
Delaware elects delegates to the proposed constitutional convention. Richard Bassett, Gunning Bedford, Jr., Jacob Broom, and John Dickinson, and George Reed will attend.[5]
February 10 • 
Georgia elects delegates to the proposed constitutional convention. Abraham Baldwin, William Few, William Houstoun, and William Pierce will attend.[5]
February 21 • Convention to discuss revisions to the Articles of Confederation is called 
The Congress of the Confederation calls a constitutional convention "for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures such alterations and provisions therein and when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the States render the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government and the preservation of the Union".
March 3 • 
Massachusetts elects delegates to the upcoming constitutional convention. Elbridge Gerry, Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King, and Caleb Strong will attend.[5]
March 6 • 
New York elects delegates to the upcoming constitutional convention. Alexander Hamilton, John Lansing, Jr., and Robert Yates will attend.[5]
March 8 • 
South Carolina elects delegates to the upcoming constitutional convention. Pierce Butler, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles Pinckney, and John Rutledge will attend.[5]
March 14 • 
Rhode Island declines to elect delegates to the upcoming constitutional convention.
April 23 • 
Maryland elects delegates to the upcoming constitutional convention. Daniel Carroll, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, Luther Martin, James McHenry, and John Mercer will attend.[5]
May 5 • 
Rhode Island again declines to elect delegates to the upcoming constitutional convention.
Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the Constitution was forged
May 14 • Constitutional Convention convenes 
The initial meeting of the convention must be adjourned due to lack of a quorum.
May 14 • 
Connecticut elects delegates to the constitutional convention. Oliver Ellsworth, William Samuel Johnson and Roger Sherman will attend.[5]
May 25 • Constitutional Convention reconvenes 
With a quorum being present delegates begin their work. George Washington is elected President of the convention. Alexander Hamilton, Charles Pinckney and George Wythe are chosen to prepare rules for the convention.[6]
May 29 • 
Virginia Plan (also known as the Large State Plan or the Randolph Plan) for structuring the federal government is presented by Edmund Randolph.[7]
May 29 • 
Pinckney Plan for structuring the federal government is presented by Charles Pinckney.[8]
June 15 • 
New Jersey Plan (also known as the Small State Plan or the Paterson Plan) for structuring the federal government is presented by William Paterson.[9]
June 16 • 
Rhode Island (for a third time) declines to elect delegates to the constitutional convention.
June 18 • 
Hamilton Plan (also known as the British Plan) for structuring the federal government is presented by Alexander Hamilton.[10]
July 2 • 
Committee of Eleven composed of Abraham Baldwin, Gunning Bedford, William Davie, Oliver Ellsworth, Benjamin Franklin, Elbridge Gerry, Luther Martin, George Mason, John Rutledge, William Patterson, and Robert Yates, is selected to work out a compromise on the issue of representation in the two houses of the federal legislature. Committees like this one, composed of one delegate from each state represented, were established on several occasions during the convention in order to secure a breakthrough so that the deliberative process could move forward in a productive fashion.
July 16 • 
Committee of Eleven report, proposing proportional representation for seats in the House of Representatives based on population, equal representation for each State in the Senate, and that all money bills would originate in the House, is approved by the convention (5–4–1). This is known as the Connecticut Compromise (also known as the Great Compromise).[11]
July 24 • 
Committee of Detail, composed of John Rutledge, Edmund Randolph, Nathaniel Gorham, Oliver Ellsworth, and James Wilson, is selected to write a first draft constitution reflective of the Resolutions passed by the convention up to that point.[6]
August 6 • 
Committee of Detail report, proposing a twenty-three article (plus preamble) constitution is presented for examination. Over the ensuing five weeks, these articles will be vigorously debated and heavily amended.
August 18 • 
Committee of Eleven composed of Abraham Baldwin, George Clymer, John Dickinson, Rufus King, John Langdon, William Livingston, George Mason, James McHenry, Charles C. Pinkney, Roger Sherman, and Hugh Williamson, is selected to address issues related to Federal assumption of state debts. Issues related to the militia are referred to this committee on August 20.
August 22 • 
Committee of Eleven composed of Abraham Baldwin, George Clymer, John Dickinson, William Johnson, Rufus King, John Langdon, William Livingston, Luther Martin, James Madison, Charles C. Pinkney, and Hugh Williamson, is selected to address issues related to federal tax and duty levying powers and also its power to regulate or prohibit the migration or importation of slaves.
August 25 • 
Committee of Eleven composed of Pierce Butler, Daniel Carrol, Jonathan Dayton, William Few, Thomas FitzSimons, Nathaniel Gorham, John Langdon, George Mason, George Read, Roger Sherman, and Hugh Williamson, is selected to consider issues related to interstate trade and navigation.
August 31 • 
Committee of Eleven (Leftover Business) composed of Abraham Baldwin, David Brearly, Pierce Butler, Daniel Carrol, John Dickinson, Nicholas Gilman, Rufus King, James Madison, Gouvernour Morris, Roger Sherman, and Hugh Williamson, is selected to address such parts of the Constitution as have been postponed, and such parts of Reports as have not been acted on.[6]
September 1–8 • 
Committee of Eleven (Leftover Business) makes a series of reports. Chief among them are ones related to, the method of choosing a president, the length of a presidential term in office he be a natural born citizen, treaty making power and the impeachment of a president for "high crimes and misdemeanors."
September 8 • 
Committee of Style and Arrangement, composed of Alexander Hamilton, William Johnson, Rufus King, James Madison, and Gouverneur Morris, is selected to distill a final draft constitution from the twenty-three approved articles.[6]
September 12 • 
Committee of Style and Arrangement presents the completed final draft of the Constitution to the convention for its consideration. The twenty-three articles have been reorganized into a cohesive document containing seven articles, a preamble and a closing endorsement, of which Gouverneur Morris was the primary author.[5] The committee also presented a proposed letter to accompany the constitution when delivered to Congress.
September 14 • 
The official copy of the draft Constitution is engrossed by Jacob Shallus.
September 15 • 
The draft Constitution receives the unanimous approval of the state delegations.
September 17 • Constitution signed and Convention adjourns 
The approved Constitution is signed by thirty-eight delegates from twelve states (all but Rhode Island). Three delegates present declined to sign the document–Edmund Randolph, George Mason, and Elbridge Gerry. Additionally, John Dickinson, who was ill and not present, had George Read sign his name by proxy. George Washington, as president of the convention, signed first. The other delegates then signed, grouped by state in strict congressional voting order. Washington, however, had signed beginning at the middle of the page, and when the delegates ran out of space beneath his signature, they began a second column of signatures to the left. Jackson, the convention secretary, also signed as a witness. The convention then adjourned sine die.[3]
September 19 • Constitution Published and Distributed 
The Pennsylvania Packet prints the first public copy of the Constitution.
September 20 • 
The Constitution is read in Congress by Charles Thomson, the Congressional secretary.
September 27 • 
First Anti-Federalist letter by "Cato" is published.[12]
September 28 • 
Congress of the Confederation votes to transmit the proposed Constitution to the thirteen states for ratification.[13]
October 5 • 
First Anti-Federalist letter by "Centinel" is published.[14]
October 8 • 
First Anti-Federalist letter by "Federal Farmer" is published.[15]
October 18 • 
First Anti-Federalist letter by "Brutus" is published.[16]
October 27 • 
First Federalist Paper by "Publius" is published.[17] The planned series of essays would, the authors hoped, "give a satisfactory answer to all the [Anti-Federalist] objections which shall have made their appearance, that may seem to have any claim to your attention."[18]
November 20 • 
Ratifying convention begins in Pennsylvania.
December 3 • 
Ratifying convention begins in Delaware.
December 7 • Ratification Seal of Delaware.svg 
Delaware becomes the first state to ratify the Constitution (30–0).[19]
December 11 • 
Ratifying convention begins in New Jersey.
December 12 • Ratification Seal of Pennsylvania.svg 
Pennsylvania becomes the second state to ratify the Constitution (46–23).[19]
December 18 • Ratification Seal of New Jersey.svg 
New Jersey becomes the third state to ratify the Constitution (38–0).[19]
December 18 • 
Pennsylvania convention (Anti-Federalist) minority publishes their "Dissent".[20]
December 25 • 
Ratifying convention begins in Georgia.

1788[edit]

January 2 • Ratification Seal of Georgia.svg 
Georgia becomes the fourth state to ratify the Constitution (26–0).[19]
January 3 • 
Ratifying convention begins in Connecticut.
January 9 • Ratification Seal of Connecticut.svg 
Connecticut becomes the fifth state to ratify the Constitution (128–40).[19]
January 9 • 
Ratifying convention begins in Massachusetts.
February 6 • Ratification Seal of Massachusetts.svg 
Massachusetts becomes the sixth state to ratify the Constitution (187–168).[19] In addition to ratifying the constitution, Massachusetts requests that nineteen alterations be made to it.[21]
February 13–22 • 
Ratifying convention (first session) held in New Hampshire.
March 1 • 
Rhode Island legislature calls for popular referendum on the proposed Constitution.
March 24 • 
Voters in Rhode Island vote down the Constitution (237–2,945).[22]
April 21 • 
Ratifying convention begins in Maryland.
April 28 • Ratification Maryland-StateSeal.svg 
Maryland becomes the seventh state to ratify the Constitution (63–11).[19]
May 12 • 
Ratifying convention begins in South Carolina.
May 23 • Ratification Seal of South Carolina.svg 
South Carolina becomes the eighth state to ratify the Constitution (149–73).[19] In addition to ratifying the constitution, South Carolina requests that two alterations be made to it.[23]
June 2 • 
Ratifying convention begins in Virginia.
June 17 • 
Ratifying convention begins in New York.
June 18 • 
Ratifying convention (second session) begins in New Hampshire.
June 21 • Ratification Seal of New Hampshire.svg 
New Hampshire becomes the ninth state to ratify the Constitution (57–47).[19] In addition to ratifying the constitution, New Hampshire requests that twelve alterations be made to it.[24]
June 21 • Having been ratified by nine of the thirteen states, the Constitution is officially established
June 25 • Ratification Seal of Virginia.svg 
Virginia becomes the tenth state to ratify the Constitution (89–79).[19] In addition to ratifying the constitution, Virginia requests that 20 alterations be made to it.[25]
July 2 • 
Congress President Cyrus Griffin informs Congress that New Hampshire has ratified the Constitution and noting that this was the ninth ratification transmitted to them. A committee is formed to examine each ratification received thus far and to develop a plan for putting the new Constitution into operation.
July 21–August 2 • 
First ratifying convention held in North Carolina. Delegates refuse to ratify Constitution without amendments.
July 26 • Ratification Seal of New York.svg 
New York becomes the eleventh state to ratify the Constitution (30–27).[19] In addition to ratifying the constitution, New York requests that thirty-three alterations be made to it.[26]
September 13 • 
Congress of the Confederation certifies that the new constitution has been duly ratified and sets date for first meeting of the new federal government and the Presidential election.[27]
October 10 • 
Congress of the Confederation meets with quorum for last time.
December 15, 1788–January 10, 1789 • 
The first quadrennial presidential election under the new Constitution is held.
December 15, 1788–January 10, 1789 • 
Elections to fill seats in the House of Representatives for the 1st Congress are held.

1789[edit]

March 2 • Congress of the Confederation last meeting 
Final meeting of the Congress of the Confederation is held. As only one delegate, Philip Pell of New York, and the Congressional secretary are present, the only action taken is to adjourn Congress sine die.
March 4 • 1st United States Congress convenes 
The federal government begins operations under the new form of government as members of the House and Senate are seated at Federal Hall in New York City. The initial meeting of each chamber must be adjourned due to lack of a quorum.
April 1 • House of Representatives reconvenes 
With a quorum being present representatives begin their work. Frederick Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania is elected Speaker of the House.
April 6 • Senate reconvenes 
With a quorum being present senators begin their work. John Langdon of New Hampshire is elected President pro tempore of the Senate.
April 6 • Electoral votes counted 
George Washington is unanimously elected to be the nation's first President and John Adams is elected its first Vice President, receiving 34 of 69 votes cast. Only ten of the thirteen states cast electoral votes in this election. North Carolina and Rhode Island were ineligible to participate as they had not yet ratified the Constitution. The New York legislature failed to appoint its allotted electors in time, so there were no voting electors from New York.[28]
April 30 • Inauguration Day 
George Washington is inaugurated as President of the United States and John Adams is inaugurated as Vice President at Federal Hall in New York City.
September 25 • Constitutional Amendments Proposed By Congress 
Twelve articles of amendment to the Constitution are approved by the Senate, having been passed by the House on the preceding day, both without recorded vote, and sent to the states for ratification. Articles Three through Twelve were ratified as additions to the Constitution December 15, 1791, and are collectively known as the Bill of Rights.[19] Article Two became part of the Constitution May 7, 1992 as the Twenty-seventh Amendment. Article One is technically still pending before the states.
November 16 • 
Second ratifying convention begins in North Carolina.
November 21 • Ratification Seal of North Carolina.svg 
North Carolina becomes the twelfth state to ratify the Constitution (194–77).[19] In addition to ratifying the constitution, North Carolina requests that twenty-six alterations be made to it.[29]

1790[edit]

February 2 • Supreme Court convenes 
The first term of the Supreme Court commences,[30] with Chief Justice John Jay presiding.
March 1–6 • 
Ratifying convention (first session) held in Rhode Island.
May 24 • 
Ratifying convention (second session) begins in Rhode Island.
May 29 • Ratification Seal of Rhode Island.svg 
Rhode Island becomes the thirteenth and final state to ratify the Constitution (34–32).[19] In addition to ratifying the constitution, Rhode Island requests that twenty-one alterations be made to it.[31]

1791[edit]

January 6 • 
Convention to consider joining the United States begins in Vermont.
January 10 • Ratification and application Seal of Vermont (B&W).svg 
Vermont votes to ratify the Constitution and to apply for admission into the Union (105–2).[32]

Gallery[edit]

Constitution of the United States, page 1.jpg Constitution of the United States, page 2.jpg Constitution of the United States, page 3.jpg Constitution of the United States, page 4.jpg
The Constitution of the United States, National Archives

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ John Clifford, The Mount Vernon Conference.
  2. ^ Morris, Richard Brandon (1987). The forging of the Union, 1781-1789. Harper & Row. p. 254. ISBN 9780060157333. Retrieved March 29, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Wright, Jr., Robert K.; MacGregor Jr., Morris J. "Appendix A: The Annapolis Convention". Soldier-Statesmen of the Constitution. Washington D.C: United States Army Center of Military History. p. 264. LCCN 87001353. CMH Pub 71-25. 
  4. ^ Ferling, John (2003). A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic. Oxford University Press. p. 276. ISBN 0195159241. Retrieved March 29, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "America's Founding Fathers-Delegates to the Constitutional Convention". The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Committees at the Constitutional Convention". U.S. Constitution Online. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Variant Texts of the Virginia Plan, Presented by Edmund Randolph to the Federal Convention". The Avalon Project at Yale Law School. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  8. ^ "The Plan of Charles Pinckney (South Carolina), Presented to the Federal Convention". The Avalon Project at Yale Law School. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  9. ^ "The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 reported by James Madison : on June 15". The Avalon Project at Yale Law School. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Variant Texts of the Plan Presented by Alexander Hamilton to the Federal Convention". The Avalon Project at Yale Law School. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Madison Debates July 16". The Avalon Project at Yale Law School. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Cato I". Ashland, Ohio: TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  13. ^ Elliot, Jonathan (1836). Elliot's Debates. Volume One. Second Edition.. Washington D.C.: Published under the sanction of Congress. p. 319. LCCN 17007172. 
  14. ^ "Centinel I". Ashland, Ohio: TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Federal Farmer I". Ashland, Ohio: TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Brutus I". Ashland, Ohio: TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  17. ^ http://thomas.loc.gov/home/histdox/fed_01.html
  18. ^ Gunn, Giles B. (1994). Early American Writing. Penguin Classics. p. 540. ISBN 0-14-039087-1. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n James J. Kilpatrick, ed. (1961). The Constitution of the United States and Amendments Thereto. Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government. p. 24. 
  20. ^ "The Dissent of the Minority of the Convention of Pennsylvania". Ashland, Ohio: TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  21. ^ Elliot, Jonathan (1836). Elliot's Debates. Volume One. Second Edition.. Washington D.C.: Published under the sanction of Congress. p. 322. LCCN 17007172. 
  22. ^ http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/images/public_education/const-day-ratification-rua.pdf
  23. ^ Elliot, Jonathan (1836). Elliot's Debates. Volume One. Second Edition.. Washington D.C.: Published under the sanction of Congress. p. 325. LCCN 17007172. 
  24. ^ Elliot, Jonathan (1836). Elliot's Debates. Volume One. Second Edition.. Washington D.C.: Published under the sanction of Congress. p. 326. LCCN 17007172. 
  25. ^ Elliot, Jonathan (1836). Elliot's Debates. Volume Three. Second Edition.. Washington D.C.: Published under the sanction of Congress. pp. 659–661. LCCN 17007172. 
  26. ^ Elliot, Jonathan (1836). Elliot's Debates. Volume One. Second Edition.. Washington D.C.: Published under the sanction of Congress. pp. 329–331. LCCN 17007172. 
  27. ^ Elliot, Jonathan (1836). Elliot's Debates. Volume One. Second Edition.. Washington D.C.: Published under the sanction of Congress. p. 333. LCCN 17007172. 
  28. ^ "Journal of the First Session of the Senate of The United States of America, Begun and Held at the City of New York, March 4, 1789, And In The Thirteenth Year of the Independence of the Said States". Senate Journal. Gales & Seaton. 1820. 
  29. ^ Elliot, Jonathan (1836). Elliot's Debates. Volume Four. Second Edition.. Washington D.C.: Published under the sanction of Congress. pp. 244–247. LCCN 17007172. 
  30. ^ "A Brief Overview of the Supreme Court" (PDF). United States Supreme Court. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  31. ^ Elliot, Jonathan (1836). Elliot's Debates. Volume One. Second Edition. Washington D.C.: Published under the sanction of Congress. pp. 336–337. LCCN 17007172. 
  32. ^ Forbes, C.S. (March 1902). "Vermont's Admission to the Union". The Vermonter: A State Magazine (St. Albans, Vermont: Charles S. Forbes) VII (8): 102. Retrieved March 29, 2014. 

External links[edit]