Events leading up to the writing of the American Constitution

  • The American Revolutionary War begins

  • Benjamin Franklin proposes a Confederation

    Benjamin Franklin submits a plan for a United Colonial Confederation or American Republic
  • Declaration of Independence is signed

  • Thomas Jefferson writes his notes regarding the Articles of Confederation

    Thomas Jefferson prepared notes for the discussion surrounding the Articles of Confederation. His notes greatly talk about Article XVII, about representation in Congree.
  • The Articles of Confederation is ratified

    It was submitted to the States for ratification in 1777, but was not fully ratified until 1781. The Articles provided a weak Executive Branch, no National power of taxation, and voting by States.
  • Congress elects John Hanson as first President

    Between march 1, 1781 and November 5, 1781, Samuel Huntington and Thomas McKean served briefly as Presidents of Congress. Samuel Johnston declined the Presidency when elected, leading to john Hanson of Maryland to be elected President of Congress for a full term.
  • The American Revolutionary War ends

  • Congress drafts the Northwest Ordinance

    When Congress began planning organization of West and Northwestern States, Thomas Jefferson and his Congressional Committee drafted the Northwest Ordinance, outright prohibiting slavery except in cases of convicted criminals.
  • Call to revise Articles of Confederation

    In a letter to George Washington, John Jay finally expressed what most US leaders believed: that "an opinion begins to prevail that a general convention for revising the articles of Confederation would be expedient.”
  • Financial Crisis fears

    James Monroe expresses fears that the "rejection of efforts to grant a national impost for revenue endangers the govt" and “will most probably induce a change of some kind.”
  • Shays' Rebellion

    Shays begins his rebellion in Massachusetts, stemming from excessive land taxation, high legal costs, and economic depression. This led to many realizing that a stronger national government is needed to prevent stuff like this from ever happening again.
  • Washington and Madison plan new government

  • The beginning of the Virginia Plan

    The Virginia Delegates, led by James Madison, prepared a plan of a bicameral government consisting of two legislative bodies with a strong executive branch with veto power of State laws.
  • The beginning of the New Jersey Plan

    William Patterson comes up with the New Jersey plan in direct opposition of the Virginia Plan. The New Jersey Plan consisted of retaining a unicameral legislature with votes equally divided between the States, with the legislative branch electing the executive.
  • Congress adopts the Northwest Ordinance

  • The "Great Compromise" saves the Constitutional Convention

    By mid July, the entire Convention was on the brink of collapse due to constant bickering between factions (Virginian Planners and New Jersey Planners). Thankfully, a great compromise was reached between the two factions. This compromise comprised of creating a bicameral legislative branch with each State having equal representation in the Upper House and the People having proportional representation in the Lower House.
  • Formation of the Committee of Detail

    John Rutledge assigned the five-member Committee of Detail to take the 19 resolutions adopted by the Convention and the New Jersey Plan, and create a draft Constitution with these in mind.
  • Washington's frustrations at the Convention

    George Washington expresses his frustrations towards the reluctant signing of the US Constitution.
  • Opposition to the Constitution

    As the Convention concluded, George Mason continued to fear an ultra-national Constitution made even worse with a lack of a Bill of Rights. On the eve on the Constitution's adoption, Mason noted these major objections and sent copies to friends and family, which subsequently ended up in the Press.
  • Jefferson's concerns about method of electing new Presidents

    Jefferson expresses his fears that the way to elect the President would weaken the office, stating that the US President looked like "a bad rendition of a Polish King."
  • Madison defends new Constitution

    James Madison teams up with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay to dissect the new Constitution and defend it in the process.
  • The US Constitution is officially ratified