The Secret Constitutional Convention, 1787

Did you know the Constitutional Convention was held in secret? We only know the details of the plans discussed and the compromises reached because a representative from Virginia, James Madison, kept a detailed record. (Links to an external site.)

Today that is going to change. You are going to be a fly on the wall reporter documenting the key debates.

It is the 25 May 1787 and 55 delegates from 12 states have gathered in Philadelphia for the Constitutional Convention. Congress has called this special convention to create a new constitution to replace the failing Articles of Confederation. The key to success will be finding the right political compromises. Over the next four months, the delegates struggled to overcome major divisions between the states.

The delegates anticipated these divisions and brought with them plans for different types of compromises. The three most famous are the New Jersey Plan, the Virginia Plan, and the Hamilton Plan. Finally, on 17 September, the delegates concluded the convention and presented the Federal Constitution for ratification by the states.

The public never knew about the details of the negotiations. Congress decided that compromises would only be possible if delegates could speak freely without worry about public opinion. Today we are going to bend history and report on this key moment in the creation of the United States.