ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A Glimpse at the Writing of the U.S. Constitution

Updated on January 4, 2017

In 1787, a Federal Convention gathered in Philadelphia to consider the fledgling United States of America’s government, as the Articles of Confederation among 13 sovereign states were proving inadequate for the new nation’s expansion and decision-making. The resulting strong yet flexible charter---the Constitution---was crafted by some of the most prominent and powerful men of the day. The Framers of the Constitution became architects of a “living document.”


Of the more than 70 delegates appointed by the states, 55 eventually participated and 39 of these would sign the Constitution. After George Washington announced that he would attend, the caliber of the delegates rose so high that Thomas Jefferson dubbed it a meeting of “demi-gods.” There were 4 governors, 8 signers of the Declaration of Independence, and 6 signers of the Articles of Confederation. More than half had served in the Continental Army, most had served on the Continental Congress---2 as president---and almost all were veterans of the American Revolution. At least half of the attendees had legal training and many were college graduates, some with medical degrees. Several other occupations were also represented, such as scientists, theologians, merchants, and large-scale farmers. Their joint resources of education, wealth, and experience were all the more useful in a time when communication was limited to the pace of transportation over land and sea.

The 13 states were not fully represented because Rhode Island chose to abstain; its primarily Baptist affiliation was therefore also lacking from the convention. Several notable individuals also declined, including John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Patrick Henry, and Richard Henry Lee. Despite their absence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson---as well as Thomas Paine---are recognized for influencing the development of the Constitution. Jefferson was serving as ambassador to France at the time, but sent books from Paris and exchanged letters with James Madison to keep abreast of the proceedings. Madison, called the “Father of the Constitution,” also bolstered his arguments for reforms from ancient histories, just as Jefferson had done in drafting the Declaration of Independence.

Washington at Constitutional Convention of 1787 by Junius Brutus Stearns, 1856
Washington at Constitutional Convention of 1787 by Junius Brutus Stearns, 1856 | Source

Representation and compromise

It is to be expected that the convention’s demographics---predominantly upper-class 18th century colonial white men---influenced the political ethos of their work. Their backgrounds and beliefs were still significantly different, and it was only after much compromise that a consensus was reached. The mission of nation-building and the principles of democracy challenged the politics and egos of all present, but to their credit, they achieved the goal of strengthening the central government with safeguards to protect competing interests.

Considerable controversies arose over representation: big states versus small, slave-owning states versus free, and popular vote versus electoral representation. The Connecticut Compromise---called the Great Compromise---settled the debate between the Virginia Plan (two legislative houses established by population, a boon for the larger populous states) and the NJ Plan (a unicameral house with equal legislators per state) by creating a bi-cameral legislature with the House of Representatives' delegation based on population and the Senate's with a uniform number of senators per state. The 3/5 Compromise temporarily addressed the controversy between slave-owning Southern states and the North by counting the slave population as three-fifths of a citizen per capita for taxation and representation. The creation of the electoral college was also the result of a compromise for executive election of the President by taking into account both popular vote and Congressional vote.


The broad framework of the Constitution has kept it alive. It established three separate but codependent branches of federal government: the executive branch (led by the President), the judiciary branch (led by the Supreme Court) and the legislature (the bi-cameral Congress). Amendments allow for further revisions; the first 10 of the 27 existing Amendments are known collectively as the Bill of Rights. Judicial review applies constitutional law and principles through court interpretation.

The capacity to be amended and re-interpreted has helped ensure longevity and a certain measure of elasticity, though the process of amendment is politically arduous. The continued adaptability of the Constitution to the American public is a matter of current dialogue. Many see more room for growth, while others would conserve the structure of this landmark government blueprint.

The following links offer a look at past and proposed changes to the Constitution:


Barbash, F. (1987). The founding: a dramatic account of the writing of the constitution. New York: Linden Press/Simon & Schuster.

Mitchell, R. (1986). C.Q.’s guide to the U.S. constitution.Washington, D.C., U.S.: Congressional Quarterly, Inc.

Sgroi, P. (1986). This constitution. London, UK: Franklin Watts.

St. John, J. (1987). The constitutional journal: correspondent’s report from the convention of 1787. Ottawa, IL: Jameson Books, Inc.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile imageAUTHOR

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Eric---The written word is a powerful window into history indeed...and we gain so much character from walking through our burdens and helping others. Thank you for reading this and for your thoughtful comment---it is much appreciated! ~Lurana

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I claim to walk with Jesus. Sometimes I read and close my eyes and walk with these guys. I dig and am happy about it. Screw Utopia, give me overcoming anyday.

      Thank you for the walk.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile imageAUTHOR

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Hello Mommy-Needs-a-Nap, I love your profile name! As a mom of a 7-y-o and 4-y-o, I agree. :-)

      I'm so glad that you found this article helpful. Thanks for your supportive comment, I appreciate it!

    • Mommy Needs a Nap profile image

      Michelle Clairday 

      5 years ago from Arkansas

      Very well written and informative. This homeschool mom will be sharing this with the kids and fellow homeschool moms. Thanks.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile imageAUTHOR

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Vinaya Ghimire---Hello and thank you for commenting! I was ignorant of Nepal's political situation, so I just read a little bit about it. It seems that a constitution is needed to support new elections and a lot of changes may be on the horizon:

      "Constituent Assembly Election is needed in Nepal to restructure the nation according to the aspirations of the People's movement – II, to reach a decision on the future of monarchy, to ensure democratic rule of law, to ensure proportional representation in all the bodies of state, to institutionalize the people's sovereignty and to create an atmosphere for all the citizens to exercise equal rights." ----from

      This is exciting and I wish you and your community well with the upcoming elections. I hope that peaceful political change can happen and that everyone has the opportunity to be a part of this.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      5 years ago from Nepal

      We are going to have elections for constituent assembly here in Nepal. I take interest constitution of US, the shortest constitution in the world.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile imageAUTHOR

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      billybuc---Thank you very much! I was looking through old papers and rewrote this based on a U.S. History essay from--you guessed it---high school. :-) I love seeing historical caricatures come to life through in-depth biographies and studies. Even if I end up liking historical figures less, I get a much better understanding of events.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Every year in U.S. History I would teach a course on the Constitution. The kids (middle schoolers) would dread it and end up loving it. It is a fascinating document for sure.

      Well done!

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile imageAUTHOR

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      HSchneider---I thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment!

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Excellent Hub, MrsBrown. The Constitution is a marvelous piece of political compromise that was created by a diverse group of politicians. You are quite right that it is a living document which has ensured its continuing existence. Change occurs slowly but it does happen. Checks and balances help keep political tyranny in check. Finally the Bill of Rights help keep minority rights in place.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)