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Who Are the Framers?
By Ezra Billinkoff

An illustration of the inauguration of President George Washington.
(Photo: PoodlesRock/Corbis)
The Constitutional Convention began in Philadelphia's Pennsylvania State House in May 1787. Delegates from 12 to 13 original states gathered to form a document they hoped would serve as the backbone of a young nation for centuries to come. Nearly 220 years later, the original seven articles have only 27 amendments. Who were these men who created such a near-perfect set of laws that has lasted for so long?

Most of these men—commonly referred to as the Founding Fathers—were veterans, or former soldiers, who had fought in the American Revolution. Many of them had held positions of command. George Washington, who led the Constitutional Convention and later became the first President of the United States, was the top general of the Continental Army.

Most of the Framers of the Constitution were well-educated for the time. Thirty-five of the 55 delegates were lawyers or had legal training. Benjamin Franklin, who had signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, was an inventor and an entrepreneur, or someone who starts businesses. Many view the Framers as remarkably smart and accomplished thinkers.

Many of the delegates at the convention went on to serve in the government they created. Both George Washington and James Madison became Presidents. Eldridge Gerry served as Vice President under Madison.

Alexander Hamilton, James McHenry, James Madison, and Edmund Randolph all earned posts as Cabinet Secretaries. Nineteen Framers served in the U.S. Senate. Thirteen others became U.S. Representatives.

Four men became Associate Justices of the Supreme Court. Both John Rutledge and Oliver Ellsworth served as Chief Justices. Several delegates served in state positions as Governors or lawmakers.

The Framers were just a group of smart men with families and land and jobs. Beyond that, however, they were visionaries, or people who set impressive goals by thinking into the future. Together, they created the U.S. Constitution, which today is the oldest written national constitution still used.

For more information about Constitution Day, visit the National Constitution Center's Web site at