America's Founding Documents

The Constitution: How Was it Made?

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Signing the Constitution

Detail of the Constitution showing the signatures.


Creating the Parchment Document

The state delegates approved the draft of the Constitution on September 15, 1787. The signing was set for the very next Monday. Jacob Shallus, the assistant clerk for the Pennsylvania General Assembly, agreed to engross (copy in a fine, clear hand) the document. Over the course of about 40 hours, he created an accurate transcription of the draft. He was paid $30 for his efforts. On September 17, the document was ready for signing.

Signing the Constitution

Thirty-nine of the 42 men present signed the Constitution. George Washington was first, followed by each state delegation descending from north to south. George Mason, Elbridge Gerry, and Edmund Randolph refused to sign because the Constitution lacked a bill of rights. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams did not sign because they were on diplomatic missions in Europe during the convention.


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