Heritage of the Founding Fathers
Heritage of the Founding Fathers

The Constitutional Convention
Josh Pittman

The Articles of Confederation was a document that had ruled, to a certain extent, over the 13 colonies prior to the Constitutional Convention.  This document had been proposed by the Continental Congress, eventually becoming ratified by the states in early 1781. 

The Constitutional Convention assembled in 1778 at Independence Hall with the intention of revising the Articles of Confederation and writing a new Constitution.  George Washington was chosen President of the convention. 

While working to form a new Constitution, the convention ran into the problem of representation in the new government.  This debate led to some delegates actually leaving the convention.  It was during this time that the oldest member of the convention, Benjamin Franklin, uttered these now famous words:

Mr. President, the small progress we have made after four or five weeks close attendance & continual reasonings with each other – our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ayes, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding…

In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understanding?...

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God Governs in the affairs of men.  And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?...1

Mr. Franklin went on to ask that prayers for the assistance and blessings of Heaven be held every morning before they started work.  This proposal was readily accepted.  The change that this brought about in the members of the convention was evident.  Jonathon Dayton recorded what happened after reconvening July 2nd.  He wrote, “We assembled again; and…every unfriendly feeling had been expelled, and a spirit of conciliation had been cultivated.”1

The convention finally voted on the Constitution in September of 1787, with thirty-nine delegates signing it.  By 1788, nine states had ratified, and by 1791, it had been ratified by all the states.  Amazingly, America has had the same Constitution for over two centuries. 


1.  Federer, William.  America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations.  AmeriSearch.  2000