On September 17, 2015, the USA are celebrating a very prominent day in American history. It is the day of the signing of one of the most important documents – the Constitution. Thus, that date marks the beginning of the establishment of the state system of the US and the formation of the American Nation.
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The actual beginning of the process of discussing, writing and signing was the late May 1787 when the Constitutional Convention started in Philadelphia. Though the meeting was appointed to May 14, representatives of only two states – Virginia and Pennsylvania were present in the State House in Philadelphia that day. In more than a week, after a quorum of seven states was achieved, the deliberation began. Eventually, the representatives of all the twelve states joined. Because not all of them were constantly present during the Convention, there were only votes from eleven states at a time. The Convention was never attended by the deputies from Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
The process of discussion lasted for almost two months until on July 24 the committee of five deputies (“The Committee of Detail”) to write a draft of the Constitution was finally elected. The deputies were John Rutledge, of South Carolina, Edmund Randolph, of Virginia, Nathaniel Gorham, of Massachusetts, Oliver Ellsworth, of Connecticut, and James Wilson, of Pennsylvania. Though the five authors took part in writing the Constitution, James Madison, of Virginia, is called “the Father of Constitution” because “in point of erudition and actual contributions to the formation of the Constitution he was preeminent” (National Archives, 2015, par.15). The committee was working on the draft from July 26 to August 6. The final result was approved by the Convention with the addition of several elements.
The Constitution was signed in the State House in Philadelphia where all the process of its discussion and creation took place. Thirty-nine deputies signed the Constitution. The other fourteen deputies left for their homes before the signing took place and, three deputies refused to sign it. They were Randolph and Mason, of Virginia, and Gerry, of Massachusetts. One of the signatures belongs to John Dickinson, of Delaware, who was absent. George Read, also of Delaware added the signature at Dickson’s personal request.
At the time of signing, the total population of the USA according to the census bill report issued by Thomas Jefferson on October 24, 1791, was about 4 million people:
“This census reported a total of 3,893,635 persons in 16 states or future states (including Vermont and Kentucky, which had been admitted, and Main which has not) and an additional 35,691 in the Southwest Territory. Populations in the states ranged from a low of 59,094 in Delaware to a high of 747,610 in Virginia. The slave population ranged from none in Maine and Massachusets to 292,627 in Virginia.”(Vile, 2005, p. 586)
That makes a significant number for a newborn state.
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Constitution day is the crucial date in American history. This is an excellent opportunity to recall the deeds, bravery and wisdom of the people who were the founders of the state system of the US, established America’s special way of development and started the formation of the American Nation. The celebration should raise pride in our minds to be the part of the process these outstanding people started few centuries ago.
National Archives (2015). Constitution of the United States. Questions and Answers. Web.
Vile, J. R. (2005). The Constitutional Convention of 1787: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of America’s Founding. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.