The Signing of the Constitution
September 17, 1787, brought a world-changing event: the signing of the United States
The day dawned clear and chilly in Philadelphia, where delegates from the thirteen states had spent a long, hot summer writing and debating the new Constitution for their young country. They assembled in Independence Hall and listened as their work was read aloud one last time. Then they heard an address from old Benjamin Franklin, who urged them all to sign the document. Franklin was too frail to make his speech, so another delegate read it for him.
Thirty-eight delegates filed forward to put their names at the bottom of the Constitution. George Washington signed first as president of the convention. The other delegates signed in geographical order from north to south, starting with New Hampshire and ending with Georgia. Franklin was helped forward from his seat, and it was reported that he wept as he signed. Their work done, the delegates closed the Constitutional Convention, and the document was sent to the states to be ratified.
In writing the Constitution, the Founding Fathers launched a daring experiment. The idea that a free people could begin a new country by designing their own government and writing down the laws and principles they would follow had never been tried before.
The Constitution has guaranteed freedom, equality, opportunity, and justice to hundreds of millions of people. It is the oldest written constitution still in effect and has become a model for nations around the world. It is, as Great Britain’s prime minister William Gladstone called it, “the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”
by Bill Bennet