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What was the purpose of the Constitutional Convention of 1787?

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togetherandnow | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 24, 2012 at 1:18 AM via web

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What was the purpose of the Constitutional Convention of 1787?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 24, 2012 at 1:26 AM (Answer #1)

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The official purpose of the Constitutional Convention that met in Philadelphia beginning on May 25, 1787 was to amend the Articles of Confederation.  It had, by that time, become clear that the Articles of Confederation were not a good enough constitution for the new nation.  The convention was called to improve on the Articles.  However, the convention was not called to do what it ended up doing.  What it ended up doing was creating an entirely new constitution.  This new constitution (the one we have today) gave the federal government much more power than it had had under the Articles of Confederation.

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 23, 2014 at 9:01 PM (Answer #2)

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According to James Madison's own diary from 1787, the purpose was to convene and revisit the Articles of the Confederation, which constituted the first "rule book", so to speak, drafted by the forefathers of the nation in order to decide how to rule it, and what regulations would be put together to maintain order.

In his diary, Madison refers to the Friday, May 14 meeting the following way:

Monday May 14th 1787 was the day fixed for the meeting of the deputies in Convention for revising the federal system of Government. On that day a small number only had assembled. Seven States were not convened till, Friday 25 of May.

That federal system of government that Madison talks about are the Articles of the Confederation mentioned previously. As the writing says, it was not until the 25th that everyone actually came together. This tells you that the process of bringing the country together was no simple task. Everyone had an idea of the type of government that would be best for the country, but the entire concept of the "United States" that we have in the 21st century was nonexistent in the 18th century, at least in practice, and certainly not in this part of the world. Therefore, while hard and heavy, the task was finally accomplished and, like the previous poster correctly pointed, the result was to reinforce the central power of the federal government.

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