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Documenting the Nation's Founding

Select a draft of the U.S. Constitution to see images, read its text, and discover highlights of how the document evolved.

All documents courtesy of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Drafting the United States Constitution
May 25 – September 17, 1787

Fifty-five delegates attended at least part of the Constitutional Convention, held in Philadelphia beginning in May 1787. Chosen by their state legislature, they received instructions from Congress to revise the failing Articles of Confederation.

After a summer spent debating and drafting, the Framers arrived at the final text for a new framework of government, which they signed on September 17, 1787. These documents—some of which are the only ones in existence—show the steps they took to reach their goal: a Constitution for “We the People.”

Exhibit Information

These documents are on display at the National Constitution Center in American Treasures: Documenting the Nation’s Founding. Created in partnership with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, this exhibit illuminates the founding era through priceless drafts of the U.S. Constitution, including Pennsylvania delegate James Wilson’s own handwritten drafts, and provides an intimate look at the path the Framers took to create our founding document.