The Charters of Freedom - A New World is at Hand close this image window and return to the  exhibit
The Scene at the Signing of the Constitution, oil painting (reproduction) by Howard Chandler Christy, 1940

In drafting the Constitution, the delegates consulted the wisdom of the ages, sifting through the contemporary political tracts of their own day, as well as the histories of ancient civilizations. They understood power to be corrupting and humans to be subject to their worst instincts.

The debates inside the meeting room were heated and contentious. The delegates examined every phrase of the constitution through the prism of the conflicting interests they represented: large states and small states, states with commercially based economies versus states with slave-based agricultural economies. History, political theory, their own interests, and devotion to the American experiment, all informed their thinking, as they hammered out a practical scheme of government.

Courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol, Washington, DC

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