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Founders

Independence Hall

 On February 21, 1787, the Continental Congress resolved that:


…it is expedient that on the second Monday in May next a Convention of delegates who shall have been appointed by the several States be held at Philladelphia for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation…

The original states, except Rhode Island, collectively appointed 70 individuals to the Constitutional Convention, but a number did not accept or could not attend. Those who did not attend included Richard Henry Lee, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock.

In all, 55 delegates attended the Constitutional Convention sessions. Only 39, however, actually signed the Constitution. The delegates ranged in age from Jonathan Dayton, 26, to Benjamin Franklin, 81, who was so infirm that he had to be carried to sessions in a sedan chair.

Three Delgates Refused to sign the US Constitution. Only thirty-nine people signed the finished product of the Constitutional Convention. In all, seventy-four people were selected to attend the Convention, but only fifty-five actually attended. Some of these left before the Convention was complete, some for personal reasons, some to protest the Constitution. Others remained at the Convention until the end, but then refused to sign.

The following is a list of those delegates who attended the Convention but who did not sign the Constitution, and the reason they did not sign:

Connecticut - Oliver Ellsworth (left early)
Georgia - William Houstoun (left early), William Pierce (left early)
Maryland - Luther Martin (left in protest), John Mercer (left in protest)
Massachusetts - Elbridge Gerry (refused to sign), Caleb Strong (left early) Gerry was the chairman of the committee that created the Connecticut Compromise. He believed that the Constitution did not do justice in ensuring the protection of the state as a whole, and for the individual residents of the state. Accordingly, he chose to not sign the Cosntitution.
New Jersey - William Houston (left early)
New York - John Lansing (left in protest), Robert Yates (left in protest)
North Carolina - William Davie (left early), Alexander Martin (left early)
Rhode Island - sent no delegates
Virginia - George Mason (refused to sign), James McClurg (left early), Edmund Randolph (refused to sign), George Wythe (left early). Mason initially advocated the creation of a stronger central government, but withdrew his support for the cause towards the end because he was apprehensive that the new government might result into a monarchy or a cruel tyranny.  Randolph refused to give his consent because he thought that the Constitution clearly did not follow the propositions set forth by the Virginia Plan. And, since he was representing Virginia, he felt very strongly about it. He was so stubborn about his cause that he suggested calling a Second General Convention.

The following are those who refused to attend or were unable to attend:

Connecticut - Erastus Wolcott
Georgia - Nathaniel Pendleton, George Walton
Maryland - Charles Caroll, Gabriel Duvall, Robert Hanson Harrison, Thomas Sire Lee, Thomas Stone
Massachusetts - Francis Dana
New Hampshire - John Pickering, Benjamin West
New Jersey - Abraham Clark, John Neilson
North Carolina - Richard Caswell, Willie Jones
South Carolina - Henry Laurens
Virginia - Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Nelson

It should be noted that John Dickinson is officially listed as a "signer," but he did not actually sign the Constitution. Dickinson fell ill during the convention and was unable to attend on the day of signing. He authorized George Read to sign for him by proxy.

This category provides an overview of the delegates to the Constitutional (Philadelphia) Convention of 1787.

  • Connecticut Delegates

    Connecticut was founded in 1635. The first settlers of Connecticut were originally Dutchmen who lived near modern-day Hartford. Puritans from the Massachusetts Bay were the first English settlers in the colony, and they founded several colonies within it, making Connecticut one of the most important centers of business and government.
     
    It was home to one of the bloodiest wars in America which is known as the Pequot War. Hundreds of people died in this war, and hundreds more were taken captive and sold into slavery. Seven hundred Pequot residents died in the Mystic [River] Massacre; seven survived the massacre and were made slaves; while seven others escaped both of these unfortunate incidents.

    Connecticut sent three (3) delegates to the Philadelphia Convention, one of whom, Oliver Ellsworth, did not sign the Constitution.

  • Delaware Delegates

    Delaware was founded in 1638, and Dutchmen were its first settlers. It is home to the Battle of Delaware Bay during the American Revolutionary War. It was in this war when the 13-star colonial flag made its first appearance in a battle, and this kind of flag had then been used from 1777 to 1795.

    Delaware is America’s first state.

    Delaware sent five (5) delegates to the Philadelphia Convention, all of whom signed the Constitution.

  • Georgia Delegates

    Georgia was founded in 1733, and was named after King George II

    Georgia sent four (4) delegates to the Philadelphia Convention, two of whom, William Houston and William L. Pierce, did not sign the Constitution.

  • Maryland Delegates

    Maryland was named after Queen Henrietta Maria and was founded in 1632. It became the first English colony to have dominant Catholic members, and it is home to one of the first religious laws in America.

    Maryland sent five (5) delegates to the Philadelphia Convention, two of whom, Luther Martin and John F. Mercer, did not sign the Constitution.

  • Massachusetts Delegates

    Massachusetts was founded in 1630. Settlers from Shawmuth and Trimoutaine changed its name to Boston, which is still named after a city in England. In 1935, the first public school in America was founded and was named Boston Latin School. It is still standing and is now the oldest school in the whole of America. The first public park was built in Boston, as did the first American newspaper. Massachusetts was home to two major events leading to the American Revolution, namely the Boston Massacre in 1770 and the Boston Tea Party in 1773.

    Massachusetts sent four (4) delegates to the Philadelphia Convention, two of whom, Elbridge Gerry and Caleb Strong, did not sign the Constitution.

  • New Hampshire Delegates

    New Hampshire was founded in 1622, and it was named after Hampshire in England. When the American Revolution first broke out, New Hampshire became a divided state.  The main trades of New Hampshire then were agriculture and manufacturing. People of New Hampshire were fishermen, shoemakers, cobblers and farmers. Even the first settlements in New Hampshire were those of fishermen, and they lived near modern-day Portsmouth.

    New Hampshire sent two (2) delegates to the Philadelphia Convention. Both signed the Constitution.

  • New Jersey Delegates

    New Jersey was founded in 1664 by the British crown, though Dutch settlements were already there as early as in 1613. It was then called New Netherland, and the land area was known to include some parts of New York. New Jersey was given to Lord Berkeley of Stratton and Sir George Carteret by King Charles.

    New Jersey sent five (5) delegates to the Philadelphia Convention, one of whom, William C. Houston, did not sign the Constitution.

  • New York Delegates

    New York was founded in 1613. When the British claimed its territories in America, New York was actually a part of the Province of New York, along with Delaware, New Jersey and Vermont. The king reassigned these places after some time to become individual colonies, and New York was named after James, Duke of York.

    New York sent three (3) delegates to the Philadelphia Convention, two of which, John Lansing, Jr. and Robert Yates, did not sign the Constitution.

  • North Carolina Delegates

    North Carolina was founded in 1653 but it was the first places to be inhabited in the New World in 1587. It is home to the first English child born into the New World, but after three years, the first colonists mysteriously disappeared with no known trace up to this day.

    North Carolina sent five (5) delegates to the Philadelphia Convention, two of which, William R. Davis and Alexander Martin, did not sign the Constitution.

  • Pennsylvania Delegates

    Pennsylvania was founded in 1681, but a Swedish man named Peter Minuit had rightly claimed it in 1638. King Charles II gave William Penn the land grant for what is now known as Pennsylvania. It was named as such after William Penn’s father, Admiral Penn.

    Pennsylvania sent eight (8) delegates to the Philadelphia Convention. It was the largest delegation to the convention and all signed the Constitution.

  • Rhode Island Delegates

    Rhode Island and Providence were the smallest colony of England in America, and was founded in 1636. It was the first colony of England that declared independence and separation from the English rule.

    Rhode Island did not send any delegates to the Philadelphia Convention.

  • South Carolina Delegates

    South Carolina was founded by the Lord Proprietors in 1663. Six years later, the Fundamental Constitution of Carolina was written by John Locke.

    South Carolina sent four (4) delegates to the Philadelphia Convention. All signed the Constitution.

  • Virginia Delegates

    Virginia was home to one of the first ever foreign settlers of America. Founded in 1607, it was originally named Jamestown, after King James I. It was home to the first representative government in all of America, when the House of Burgesses met for the first time in 1619.

    Virginia sent seven (7) delegates to the Philadelphia Convention, four of whom, George Mason, James McClurg, Edmund J. Randolph, and George Wythe, did not sign the Constitution.