A painting of the George Washington and several other historic men in a room together

This painting shows the men who wrote the U.S. Constitution. Can you spot George Washington? For a hint, check out his face on a $1 bill.

Architect of the Capitol

Many Ideas, One Plan

Debates played a huge part in the making of our country.

In May 1787, American leaders locked themselves in a room in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They worried spies might listen in, so they also closed the windows. It was hot and stinky. But that didn’t keep the 55 men from debating and arguing about how to plan a new government.   

Different Wish Lists

Javier Brosch/Shutterstock.com

A few years earlier, America had won its freedom from Great Britain in the Revolutionary War. Now it was time to create what would become the nation’s most important document—the United States Constitution.

A constitution is a set of rules for how a nation will be run. It also lists basic rights.

Each leader had his own ideas and goals for the country. The men often disagreed on what to include in the Constitution. Some wanted states to have more power. Others said the nation’s government should be stronger than any one state.

Getting It Done

The men finally finished the document on September 17, 1787. (That’s why Constitution Day is every September 17.)

During the four months of debate, leaders had to give up things they wanted to keep moving ahead. In the end, the Constitution was the result of many compromises. It represented the goals of the entire country, not just a few people.

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