Government and Politics

The U.S. Constitution

Who wrote the U.S. Constitution?

In spirit the U.S. Constitution was created by all of the 55 delegates to the meeting that convened on May 25, 1787, in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) called the Constitutional Convention “an assembly of demi-gods,” and with good cause: The delegates were the young nation’s brightest and best. When the states had been called upon to send representatives to the meeting, 12 states answered by sending their most experienced, most talented, and smartest men; Rhode Island, which feared the interference of a strengthened national government in state affairs, sent no one to Philadelphia.

Even in such stellar company, the document did have to be written. While many had a hand in this process, it was New York lawyer and future American politician and diplomat Gouverneur Morris (1752–1816) who actually took on the task of penning the Constitution, putting into prose the resolutions reached by the convention. Morris had the considerable help of the records that James Madison (1751–1836) of Virginia had kept as he managed the debates among the delegates and suggested compromises. In that capacity and in that he designed the system of checks and balances among the legislative (Congress), the executive (the president of the United States), and the judicial (Supreme Court), Madison had considerable influence on the document’s language, quite rightfully earning him the designation “father of the constitution.”

The original document, drafted by Morris, is preserved in the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. While the Constitution has been amended by Congress, the tenets set forth therein have remained with Americans for more than two centuries, and they have provided proof to the countries of the world that a constitution outlining the principles and purposes of its government is necessary to good government.


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