How did a meeting intended to revise the Articles of Confederation lead to the new Constitution for the United States? Discover how a handful of men--sitting in sweltering heat and shrouded by secrecy--changed the course of history for America in 1787.
The total number of delegates at the Convention was 55, and 12 of the 13 states were represented. The number of delegates from each of those 12 states was not equal. Research how each state decided whether to attend, how individual delegates were chosen, and which individual delegates were chosen. http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_founding_fathers.html/
In what ways did these delegates represent “the people,” and in what ways did they not? How did their life experiences prior to arriving at the Convention shape them for what would occur there? For those among them that did not endorse the Constitution when the Convention concluded, what were some of their reasons for refusing to do so?
Review Thomas Jefferson’s criticisms of the Constitution after its unveiling on September 17, 1787. http://www.history.org/foundation/journal/spring07/jefferson.cfm
How might the Convention have been different if Thomas Jefferson had been in attendance? As the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, what type of impact did his lack of enthusiasm for the Constitution have on his peers? On the average American? Think about one of Jefferson’s phrases in the Declaration of Independence: “It is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” Can you use that phrase out of its original context to justify the delegates stepping beyond the bounds of their original mandate? In what ways does the Constitution both deviate from and stay true to the principles embodied in the Declaration of Independence?
National Archives http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html
The Library of Congress http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/continental/constit.html
National Park Service http://www.nps.gov/inde/historyculture/stories.htm