Who Attended the Philadelphia Convention?

The attendees at the Philadelphia Convention, also known as the Constitutional Convention, included 55 delegates from 12 of the 13 new United States. Key delegates included Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.

In May 1787, every state except Rhode Island sent delegates to Philadelphia to draft a new governing document for the Colonies, which would replace the largely ineffective Articles of Confederation. James Madison wrote most of the Constitution, though Hamilton contributed heavily. While most participants saw this at first as an attempt to revise and repair a system they liked, Hamilton and Madison intended from the beginning to create a new system of government that would tie the state more closely together while ensuring all Americans were fairly represented. General George Washington was elected president of the convention, boosting confidence from the quarrelsome states that the new constitution would be fair to everyone.

During the Philadelphia Convention, the U.S. Constitution was drafted, then sent to the states for ratification. Its content was shaped by a variety of factors, including the need to balance the three branches of government and the difficulty of reconciling the concerns of the slave-holding South with the abolitionist North. The convention concluded in September 1787, but the Constitution was not ratified until June 21, 1788.