Painting of the signing of the Constitution by Howard Chandler Christy.

Painting by Howard Chandler Christy of the signing of the Constitution.

Constitutional Convention of 1787

May 25, 1787–September 17, 1787

The Constitutional Convention was held in Philadelphia in 1787. The purpose was to revise the Articles of Confederation. Instead, the Convention resulted in the United States Constitution.


By 1787, only four years after the official end of the Revolution, many Americans were convinced that the new nation could not survive under the weak central government established by the Articles of Confederation. Following two previous attempts to address growing concerns about the state of the nation (Mt.Vernon, 1785 and Annapolis, 1786), delegates from 12 of the 13 states assembled in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787 to “revise the Articles of Confederation,” as authorized by Congress. The delegates soon developed other ideas, however, and instead, undertook the task of drafting an entirely new document. Throughout a summer of heated debate and enlightened compromise, the delegates drafted a new Constitution that did far more than strengthen federal authority. Their work redefined relationships between the individual states, and between the states and the central government. More importantly, though, it redefined relationships between the federal government and U.S. citizens. As the balance shifted from a loose confederation of 13 states who wielded their individual powers, a new government emerged, created by “We, the people of the United States.” Though the Constitution lacked a Bill of Rights and was woefully negligent regarding large portions of the populace (notably women and people of African descent), when judged by the standards of their times, the work of the delegates was truly revolutionary, creating a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”


Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Constitutional Convention of 1787
  • Coverage May 25, 1787–September 17, 1787
  • Author
  • Keywords constitutional convention, 1787
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date May 28, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update May 5, 2022