The Summer That Gave Us the Constitution

Anna Leutheuser /

On this day in 1787, the Second Constitutional Convention embarked on a four month-long process that resulted in the masterful document responsible for shaping our country.

Though battered and bruised today, the Constitution of the United States remains the framework for our nation’s government.  On May 25, 1787, however, the Founders had no assurances of such success.  The current form of government – the Articles of Confederation – was fundamentally flawed, and it seemed possible that the young nation would fail before it really began.  The state legislatures were unable to get the unanimous consent needed to pass necessary changes to the Articles.  More drastic action was required if the United States were to survive.

This action came in the form of the Virginia Legislature, led by James Madison.  In a bold move, the Virginia Legislature invited the other states to join them in Annapolis, Maryland in September 1786, to discuss current interstate conflicts.  It became clear to those who attended the Annapolis Convention that the conversation about government had to address the defects of the Articles of Confederation head on.  The delegates suggested that a “Grand Convention” be called in Philadelphia the next May, so that all the states might discuss how to improve the Articles. (more…)