Speeches, Motions, and Committee Assignments in the Constitutional Convention

Fifty-five of the most prominent men in America met in Philadelphia in the spring and summer of 1787 to correct the problems with the Articles of Confederation. Instead of amending the Articles, as they were instructed to do by the Confederation Congress and by their state legislatures, the delegates drafted a completely new form of government that they submitted to the American people to ratify. For a variety of reasons, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention chose to meet in secret. Consequently, as a self-contained body receiving no assistance from outside, the Convention served as a classroom in the science of government with some of the most learned instructors in the country. Much of this instruction was utilized by delegates during the year-long debate over the ratification of the Constitution.

Anticipated Opposition to the Constitution

As the Constitutional Convention neared the end of its proceedings, most Americans were encouraged to accept whatever might be proposed. Pennsylvania delegate Gouverneur Morris, however, warned his fellow delegates that the process of ratification should be hurried because opposition to the Constitution would steadily increase. Two other delegates—George Washington and Alexander Hamilton— took a more positive approach and encouraged states and private individuals not to oppose the Constitution merely because some of its provisions did not favor them.