Delegates to the Constitutional Convention


Who Was There?

The state legislatures of each state selected the delegates who would attend the convention. There was no limit on the number of delegates a state could send, but each state would vote as a delegation, not as individual delegates. Rhode Island did not send any delegates to the Convention. While seventy delegates were appointed to attend, only fifty-five did.

The delegates to the convention included lawyers (thirty-four had studied law), soldiers (twenty-one fought in the Revolutionary War), farmers, educators, ministers, doctors, bankers and merchants. Forty had been members of the Continental Congress and two others would later become members of the Congress of the United States. The average age of the delegates was about 44.

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, was serving as the American Minister to France at the time and did not participate in the Constitutional Convention.

NAME

STATE

Signed the Constitution

COMMENTS

Baldwin, Abraham
Minister/Lawyer

GA

Y

Helped resolved the large/small state representation crisis.

Bassett, Richard
Lawyer/Farmer

DE

Y

Attended diligently, did not take any major steps at the convention.

Bedford, Gunning, Jr.
Lawyer

DE

Y

A more active member of the convention. Member of the committee that drafted the Great Compromise.

Blair, John
Lawyer

VA

Y

Helped ratified the Constitution.

Blount, William
Major Land Speculator/ Public Official

NC

Y

Signed the Constitution only to make it "the unanimous act of the states in convention."

Brearly, David 
Lawyer

NJ

Y

Attended regularly. Opposed proportional representation and liked 1 vote in Congress. Chaired the Committee on Postponed Matters.

Broom, Jacob
Real Estate/Mercantile

DE

Y

Never missed a session, only played a minor role at the Convention.

Butler, Pierce
Military/Planter

SC

Y

One of the most aristocratic delegates. Outspoken nationalist key spokesman for the Madison-Wilson caucus. Supported southern slaveholders interests.

Carroll, Daniel
Gentleman Planter

MD

Y

Served on the Committee on Postponed Matters. Campaigned in Maryland for ratification.

Clymer, George
Merchant

PA

Y

Rarely missed a meeting. Played a modest role in shaping the final document.

Davie, William R.
Lawyer

NC

N

He swung the NC delegates in favor of the Great Compromise. Fought hard for ratification.

Dayton, Jonathan
Businessman/Major Land Speculator

NJ

Y

Only 26 years old, the youngest delegate present. Objected to some provisions of the Constitution.

Dickinson, John 
Lawyer

DE

Y

Voted against the Declaration of Independence, and refused to sign it. Did not actually sign the Constitution, because of illness, but authorized George Read to do so for him.

Ellsworth, Oliver
Lawyer

CT

N

Amended to change the word "national" to "United States" to designate the government. 1 of 5 that prepared 1st draft of the Constitution.

Few, William
Lawyer

GA

Y

Contributed Nationalist votes at critical times. Helped approved sending the Constitution to the states for ratification.

Fitzsimons, Thomas
West India Trade/Major Land Speculator

PA

Y

A strong nationalist and attended regularly. No outstanding contributions

Franklin, Benjamin
Printer/Scientist

PA

Y

"Sage of the Constitutional Convention." He was on the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence. At 81, he was the oldest delegate at the Convention

Gerry, Elbridge
Merchant/Shipper

MA

N

One of the most vocal delegates. Rejected and refused to sign the Constitution because it lacked the Bill of Rights. Vocal against ratifying the Constitution. In 1789 announced intention to support the Constitution

Gilman, Nicholas
Businessman

NH

Y

Arrived July 21, 1787. Served on Committee on Postponed Matters. Was Active in ratification and shepherding the Constitution through the Continental Congress.

Gorham, Nathaniel
Businessman/Major Land Speculator

MA

Y

Attended all of the sessions. Chairman of the Committee of the Whole. Played an influential role.

Hamilton, Alexander
Lawyer/Public Servant

NY

Y

Urged the calling of the Constitution Convention. Frequently absent on legal business. Was the only one from New York to sign. Played a substantial part in ratifying the Constitution in New York.

Houston, William C.
Professor of Math

NJ

N

Only attended one week. Illness forced him to leave the convention. Did not sign the Constitution, but endorsed it.

Houstoun, William
?

GA

N

Was only in attendance July 1 - July 23. He split Georgia's vote on equal representation in the senate voting "nay." 

Ingersoll, Jared
Lawyer

PA

Y

Favored revisions of the Articles of Confederation. Attended all sessions

Jenifer, Daniel 
?

MD

Y

Backed Madison and the nationalist element

Johnson, William S.
Lawyer

CT

Y

In the 1785-87 Continental Congress was one of the most popular and influential delegates. Attended all sessions at the Constitutional Convention after June 2, 1787.

King, Rufus 
Lawyer

MA

Y

Attended all sessions. Leading Figure in the nationalist caucus. Considered one of the most important speakers at the convention. 

Langdon, John
Mercantile Business

NH

Y

Arrived late July and spoke 20+ times. Member of the committee that compromised slavery. Paid for his and Gilman's way. NH would not pay for the trip.

Lansing, John, Jr.
Lawyer

NY

N

Left the convention with Robert Yates, because of abolishing, not amending, the Articles of Confederations. 

Livingston, William
Lawyer

NJ

Y

Gubernatorial duties kept him from attending every session. Did vital committee work, i.e. the compromise on the slavery issue. 

Madison, James
Pubic Servant

VA

Y

"Father of the Constitution." Spoke more than 150 times, 3rd most speaker. Clearly preeminent figure at the convention. Key role in the ratification of the Constitution.

Martin, Alexander 
Merchant/Public Servant

NC

N

Left in late August. Good politician but not a good debater. Least strongly Federalist from NC. 

Martin, Luther
Lawyer

MD

N

Spoke for more than 3 hours against the Virginia Plan. Supported equal number of delegates in at least one house. Walked out with John Mercer before the convention closed.

Mason, George
Richest Planter in VA

VA

N

One of the five most frequent speakers. During last two weeks decided not to sign because of the absence of a declaration of rights.

McClurg, James
Physician

VA

N

Strong supporter of a strong independent national government. Left in August. 

McHenry, James 
Doctor/Politician

MD

Y

Missed most of the convention because of a brother's illness. Campaigned strongly to ratify the Constitution in MD.

Mercer, John F.
?

MD

N

Second youngest delegate at 28 years old. Spoke and voted against the Constitution. Walked out with Luther Martin before the convention closed.

Mifflin, Thomas
Merchant

PA

Y

Attended regularly. No substantial roles 

Morris, Gouverneur
Lawyer

PA

Y

One of the leading figures at the convention. Gave 173 speeches. A strong advocate of nationalism and aristocratic rule. Drafted the Constitution.

Morris, Robert
International Banker/ Merchant/ Major Land Speculator

PA

Y

Attended practically all of the meetings. Mostly silent during the convention. 

Patterson, William
Merchant

NJ

Y

Co-authored the New Jersey or Paterson Plan. He left a some point and only returned to sign the final document.

Pierce, William L.
Merchant (Import/Export)

GA

N

Participated in 3 debates. Approved the Constitution, but had to leave due to a decline in European rice market.

Pinckney, Charles
Lawyer/Well to do Family

SC 

Y

Attended the full time. Spoke often and effectively, contributed immensely to final draft and resolving problems. Worked on the ratification in SC.

Pinckney, Charles C.
Lawyer

SC

Y

Alltended all sessions. Strong advocate of a powerful national government. Exerted influence in the power of the Senate to ratify treaties and the compromise of international slave trade. 

Randolph, Edmund J.
Public Servant

VA

N

Presented the Virgina Plan. Sat on the committee that drafted the Constitution. Declined to sign because it was not sufficiently republican.

Read, George
Lawyer

DE

Y

Championed the rights of the small states. Voted against the Declaration of Independence, but signed the Constitution. Led ratification movement in Delaware, the first state to ratify. 

Rutledge, John
Lawyer

SC 

Y

One of the most influential delegates. Attended all sessions. Spoke and often and effectively. Served on five committees. Maintained a moderate nationalist stance. 

Sherman, Roger
Lawyer/Merchant

CT

Y

Attended practically all sessions. Prime mover behind the Great Compromise. Worked on ratification in CT.

Spaight, Richard D.
Public Servant

NC

Y

Spoke on several occasions. Attended all sessions. Worked on ratification in NC. 

Strong, Caleb
Lawyer

MA

N

Favored a strong central government. Voted in favor of equal numbers in the Senate and proportional in the House. Had to leave early because of family illness, was not able to sign. Campaigned strongly for ratification in MA. 

Washington, George 
Military-Commander in Chief

VA

Y

His presence was instrumental in bring many delegates to the Convention. He was unanimously selected as President of the Convention.

Williamson, Hugh
Doctor/Scientist

NC

Y

Friends with Benjamin Franklin. Played a significant role in the Great Compromise.

Wilson, James
Lawyer/Major Land Speculator

PA

Y

Influence at the Constitution was probably 2nd to Madison. Gave 2nd most speeches.

Wythe, George
Lawyer

VA

N

Left early and offered the resolution for ratification in Virginia. 

Yates, Robert 
Lawyer

NY

N

Left the convention with John Lansing Jr., because of abolishing, not amending, the Articles of Confederations. 

*Rhode Island did not send any delegates to the Constitutional Convention.