The 55 delegates who drafted the Constitution included most of the outstanding leaders, or Founding Fathers, of the new nation.
They represented a wide range of interests, backgrounds, and stations in life.
Originally designed in the late 18th century to provide a framework for governing 4 million people in 13 very different states along America's Atlantic coast, its basic provisions were so soundly conceived that, with only 27 amendments, it now serves the needs of more than 260 million Americans in 50 even more diverse states that stretch from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.
The path to the Constitution was neither straight nor easy.
These settlers highly prized personal freedom, and they were wary of any power especially that of government that might curtail individual liberties.
The diversity of the new nation was also a formidable obstacle to unity.In February 1787 the Continental Congress, the legislative body of the republic, issued a call for the states to send delegates to Philadelphia, in the state of Pennsylvania, to revise the Articles.The Constitutional Convention convened on May 25, 1787, in Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence had been adopted 11 years earlier, on July 4, 1776.Most states had a governor elected by the state legislature.The legislature itself was elected by popular vote.A draft document emerged in 1787, but only after intense debate and six years of experience with an earlier federal union.The 13 British colonies in America declared their independence from their motherland in 1776.The Constitution of the United States is the central instrument of American government and the supreme law of the land.For 200 years it has guided the evolution of governmental institutions and has provided the basis for political stability, individual freedom, economic growth, and social progress.The Articles of Confederation devised a loose association among the states and set up a federal government with very limited powers.In such critical matters as defense, public finance, and trade, the federal government was at the mercy of the state legislatures.