It was 225 years ago today the Constitutional Convention began
May 25, 1787 was the day it all began in Philadelphia, as the Constitutional Convention started in earnest and the first votes were taken at what is now called Independence Hall.
The delegates who gathered in Philadelphia knew they were there for an important reason – the system of federal and state government under the Articles of Confederation didn’t work.
But it’s doubtful the most farsighted of delegates, including James Madison and Alexander Hamilton, could have predicted how long the Constitution would last and how far-reaching it would become as a global blueprint for government.
The first day began when a quorum of seven state delegations was reached. (The original start date for the convention was May 14, but travel and other problems delayed the convention’s start.)
There were actually delegates from nine states in the room, but Massachusetts and Georgia only had one delegate a piece, and couldn’t form official delegations.
In addition to establishing a quorum, three other measures were taken.
First, George Washington was picked to preside over the convention.
Then, William Jackson defeated William Temple Franklin, the grandson of Ben Franklin, in the first contested vote of the convention, to be named as its secretary. (Ben Franklin was ill and not at the session on May 25th.)
And finally, a three-man group was picked to draw up the rules for the convention: Charles Pinckney, Alexander Hamilton and George Wythe.
Hamilton and Pinckney were key players for the duration of the convention, while Wythe left the convention early and didn’t have a role in the debate.
According to James Madison’s notes, among the other delegates in the room were James Wilson, Rufus King, Robert Morris, Gouverneur Morris, George Read, George Mason and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.
Ironically, the day was also a Friday.
The debate over the rules would start on May 28th, and it was the first day that Ben Franklin arrived at the convention.