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We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article I

Section 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Section 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of Honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Section 4. The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

Section 5. Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section 6. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time: and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

Section 7. All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

Section 8. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Section 9. The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear or pay Duties in another.

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Section 10. No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

Article II

Section 1. The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Section 2. The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Section 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Article III

Section 1. The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

Section 2. The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;--between a State and Citizens of another State;--between Citizens of different States;--between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Article IV

Section 1. Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records, and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Section 2. The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

Section 3. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

Article V

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Article VI

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwith-standing.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Article VII

The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.

Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth

In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,

George Washington--President and deputy from Virginia

New Hampshire: John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman

Massachusetts: Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King

Connecticut: William Samuel Johnson, Roger Sherman

New York: Alexander Hamilton

New Jersey: William Livingston, David Brearly, William Paterson, Jonathan Dayton

Pennsylvania: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Mifflin, Robert Morris, George Clymer, Thomas FitzSimons, Jared Ingersoll, James Wilson, Gouverneur Morris

Delaware: George Read, Gunning Bedford, Jr., John Dickinson, Richard Bassett, Jacob Broom

Maryland: James McHenry, Daniel of Saint Thomas Jenifer, Daniel Carroll

Virginia: John Blair, James Madison, Jr.

North Carolina: William Blount, Richard Dobbs Spaight, Hugh Williamson

South Carolina: John Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles Pinckney, Pierce Butler

Georgia: William Few, Abraham Baldwin

as published in the The Pennsylvania Packet, September 19, 1787
The Constitution of the United States
a history of the United States Constitution - drafting, signing, and printing

On September 1786, delegates from five states met in Annapolis, Maryland, to discuss the lack of uniform trade regulations under the Articles of Confederation. These delegates passed a resolution calling for delegates from all thirteen states to meet in May 1787, "to devise such other provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union."

On Friday, 25 May 1787, the Federal Convention convened in the Assembly Room at the Pennsylvania State House on Chestnut Street, now known as Independence Hall. The Convention was scheduled to commence on the 14 May, but only delegates from Virginia and Pennsylvania were present on that day and the opening was postponed until 25 May.

The delegates to the Federal Convention were sent to the State House to redress the deficiencies of the then current government under the Articles of Confederation. Many of the delegates maintained that a strong national government was needed to replace the weak central government that existed under the Articles.

On Tuesday, 29 May, Edmund Randolph of Virginia presented to the Convention fifteen resolutions recommending changes to the government, commonly referred to as the Randolph Resolutions but formally titled the Virginia Plan. Randolph's own handwritten copy of the Virginia Plan does not survive. In the early stages of the Convention, delegates made their own copies of documents presented in Convention. During the final months of the Convention, important documents were printed and copies were furnished to each delegate. There are a four extant manuscript versions of the Virginia Plan, they include copies in the hand of James Madison, George Washington, David Brearly, and James McHenry.  For the following two weeks, the convention met in a Committee of the Whole house reviewing and modifying the Virginia Plan.

On 13 June, the amended Virginia Plan was presented to the delegates in Convention. The resulting fifteen resolutions contained in the Virginia Plan outlined the structure and powers of all three branches of government. This plan called for a bicameral legislature, the upper house elected by the people while the members of the lower house would be chosen by the upper house. The executive, according to the plan, would be chosen by the legislature. Lastly, the plan outlined a national judiciary, of supreme and inferior courts, selected by the legislative branch. The judiciary had authoritative power in all questions involving the peace and harmony of the nation.

On 29 May, in addition to the Virginia Plan, the Convention received a draft of a federal government written by Charles Pinckney of South Carolina. Although the document, in Pinckney's hand, presented to the Convention on 29 May has never been located, there exists a summary outline and a document of abstracts from the original Pinckney Plan in the hand of James Wilson. The Pinckney Plan did not receive the same consideration in the Committee of the Whole house as the resolutions offered by Randolph.

In convention on 14 June, William Paterson of New Jersey asked for a one-day adjournment. Paterson and the small state contingent needed time to complete their plan of government distinguished from the proposed Virginia Plan. On the following day, the Paterson Resolutions or New Jersey Plan were laid before the convention.  Fearful of a strong central government, Paterson presented his plan which consisted of nine resolutions that called for a unicameral legislature and an equal vote in Congress for each state. Instead of presenting a unique plan of government, Paterson's Resolutions were a series of amendments to the existing government under the Articles of Confederation. On 18 June, Alexander Hamilton rose to make a lengthy speech to the Convention that outlined his views on a plan for government and suggested amendments to the Virginia Plan. Although Hamilton's ideas were not formally considered in Convention, several of the delegates made notes of his four to five hour discourse.  The following day, the delegates voted seven to three rejecting the New Jersey Plan in favor of the Virginia Plan. The rejection of the New Jersey Plan did not quiet the efforts of the small states. In convention over the next month, the fifteen resolutions defined in the Virginia Plan were taken up one at a time. With the adoption of the Great Compromise on 16 July, the small states achieved an equal vote in one branch of the legislature. Consideration of the original fifteen resolutions contained in the Virginia Plan concluded on 26 July. The same day, a five-man Committee of Detail was chosen to prepare a report using the modified Virginia Plan consisting of twenty-three resolutions, the Pinckney Plan and the New Jersey Plan. The Committee consisted of Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut, Nathaniel Gorham of Massachusetts, Edmund Randolph of Virginia, John Rutledge of South Carolina, and James Wilson of Pennsylvania. The Convention adjourned until August 6th, when the Committee of Detail would submit their report, which would ultimately be used as a guide for the final draft of the Constitution. There is no historical account of the workings of the Committee during the ten-day adjournment of the Convention. Only documents, such as James Wilson's drafts of the Constitution, have survived though they allow valuable insight into the operations of the Committee of Detail.

Max Farrand, editor of The Records of the Federal Convention, suggests that one individual on the Committee was selected to draft a preliminary outline of the Constitution. The outline, in turn, was used as a working copy for the remaining Committee members to pore over and discuss. Edmund Randolph, author of the Virginia Plan, was chosen to prepare the preliminary outline. Randolph's sketch, found in the papers of George Mason, outlined the resolutions discussed in the Convention and provided a brief introduction and conclusion to them. Next, Farrand suggests that the sketch was submitted to the entire Committee for discussion and revision. Concurrent with Randolph's work, Farrand believes Wilson had been working independently on his draft of the Constitution. Wilson's draft employed not only Randolph's Virginia Plan, but other plans discussed in Convention and existing state constitutions, as well as the Articles of Confederation. Wilson's draft was presented as a complete, readable document, unlike Randolph's plan which was introduced in outline form.

At this point, Wilson's draft was examined by the Committee members, not in order to make stylistic changes but to verify the accuracy of its content. A small number of modifications were made to Wilson's draft by the chairman of the Committee, John Rutledge. The Committee, praised by the Convention delegates for their work, did take some creative license beyond what was agreed upon in Convention. One of the additions made by the Committee declared that no tax or duty shall be laid by the Legislature on articles exported from any State; nor on the migration or importation of such persons as the several States shall think proper to admit; nor shall migration or importation be prohibited.

Prior to 6 August, Wilson created a second draft of the Constitution incorporating Rutledge's notations made on the first draft. Wilson's second draft with emendations (called a fair copy) was brought to the printers Dunlap and Claypoole on Market Street. A fair copy is a readable draft to be used by the printer to set the type at his shop. There exists in the collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania the first known printed version of the Committee's report that precedes the document handed to the delegates on 6 August. The seven numbered leaves and one blank leaf are entitled, "Rough Drt fedr Constitution." These leaves are believed to be the printer's proof sheets given to the Committee of Detail by Dunlap and Claypoole around 1 August 1787. Corrections on the copy are in the hand of committee member Edmund Randolph.

On Monday 6 August, John Rutledge handed each of the delegates present at the Convention a printed copy of the committee's report. This printed report consisted of seven folio pages with wide margins, ample space for delegates to make notations. Approximately sixty copies of the Committee's report were printed.  This printed document incorporated the changes made by Edmund Randolph on the proof copy in the collection of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. There are sixteen extant copies of the printed report furnished to the Convention delegates by the Committee of Detail.

The draft Constitution appears in twenty-three sections numbered with roman numerals. A motion was made to adjourn until Wednesday, to provide delegates with time to thoroughly examine the report. The motion was defeated, the delegates adjourned for the day and reassembled the next morning. The report by the Committee of Detail was followed by arduous debate and compromise that ended on Saturday, 8 September with the appointment of a Committee of Style and Arrangement.

Madison's notes on the debates in the Federal Convention indicate that the Committee of Style's five members were chosen by ballot to "revise the stile of and arrange the articles which had been agreed to by the House."  The members of the Committee of Style and Arrangement were: Alexander Hamilton of New York, William Samuel Johnson of Connecticut, Rufus King of Massachusetts, James Madison of Virginia, and Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania. The Committee of Style and Arrangement was probably furnished with Convention president George Washington's annotated copy of the printed draft constitution of 6 August.

Committee member William Samuel Johnson presented a report of the Committee of Style to the Convention on 12 September. The document was presented at the Secretary's table to be reviewed.

The copy of the Committee's report presented in Convention on 12 September does not survive. On that same day, printed copies of the Committee's plan were ordered to be furnished to the delegates. The next day, the delegates were presented a four-page printed broadside of the draft Constitution. Approximately sixty copies of the document were printed by Dunlap and Claypoole on 12 September. The draft Constitution consisted of seven articles and twenty-one sections. The Committee incorporated all the changes discussed in Convention and the delegates debated each paragraph of the revised draft over the next three days. There are fifteen extant copies of the printed document presented to the delegates by the Committee.

After all the sections of the Committee's plan had been debated and agreed upon, the final text of the Constitution was ordered to be engrossed on 15 September 1787. In his diary entry for 15 September, James McHenry stated, "The question being taken on the system agreed to unanimously-Ordered to be engrossed and 500 copies struck-Adjourned till monday the 17th."

On 17 September, the final day of the Convention, Secretary William Jackson did not enter the proceedings in the official journal. The events of the day rely on the accounts of James Madison and James McHenry. The engrossed copy, prepared by Jacob Sallus, assistant clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly, was read in Convention. Just prior to the final vote of adoption of the Constitution, Nathaniel Gorham of Massachusetts asked if the ratio of representation in the lower house of Congress could be changed from one for every forty-thousand inhabitants to one for every thirty-thousand. Gorham's proposal was unanimously agreed upon and the engrossed Constitution was then signed by all the members present except for Elbridge Gerry, George Mason, and Edmund Randolph who refused to give their consent. At four o'clock the Convention adjourned and Secretary Jackson was ordered to carry the Constitution to Congress in New York. As a result, Dunlap and Claypoole needed to complete the final printing of the Constitution by the 10:00am departure of the New York stagecoach on 18 September.

On 20 September, Jackson delivered the engrossed copy of the Constitution to Congress assembled in New York. On the same day, Jackson read the Constitution before Congress. It is not known whether the Constitution was read from the engrossed or a printed copy. Immediately after the Constitution was signed and the injunction on secrecy lifted, Convention delegates sent copies of the document to friends and fellow statesman. The Constitution appeared in five Philadelphia newspapers on the morning of 19 September. Dunlap and Claypooles' Pennsylvania Packet is recognized for the first public printing of the Constitution.

by A.M. Dube
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