Deciphering Original Pages From the Voting Record of the Constitutional Convention

Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
July 3 2014 11:51 AM

Deciphering Original Pages From the Voting Record of the Constitutional Convention

The Vault is Slate's history blog. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @slatevault, and find us on Tumblr. Find out more about what this space is all about here.

William Jackson, secretary to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, recorded the convention delegates’ votes in neat columns, alongside the “questions” (or resolutions) that prompted their votes. Here’s one page; the National Archives has digitized six other pages. (While it’s not part of this record, you can see the page that records the final vote for ratification elsewhere on the NARA site.) 

The Philadelphia convention met to revise the Articles of Confederation, which had been in effect since the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783. Over three months of the summer and fall of 1787, 55 delegates from the 13 states hashed out the structure of a new Constitution, voting on matters both grand and seemingly minute.

Advertisement

This page represents votes made on Wednesday, August 8 through Friday, August 10, when the convention discussed qualifications for voting and office-holding. (Historian Gordon Lloyd compiled a list of resolutions made during the convention on the website Teaching American History. Search “August 8” on this page to reach his transcribed list, which is also annotated to give context to each resolution within the larger discussion.)

Looking at these voting records, you can see how tedious many of the arguments must have been. (On June 28, Lloyd writes, the not-overly-religious Benjamin Franklin, noting “the small progress we have made after 4 or 5 weeks,” called for “prayers imploring the assistance of heaven.”)

On August 9, the delegations voted on the question of how many years’ citizenship a person would be required to have before being allowed to become a Senator. Agreement on this matter took four different votes: 14 years, failed (4-7); 13 years, failed (again, 4-7); 10 years, failed (still at 4-7). The resolution finally passed (6-4) with a requirement of nine years.

Click on the image to reach a zoomable version, or visit the voting record's page on the National Archives' website. 

FinalVotingRecord

National Archives.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

Yes, Black Families Tend to Spank More. That Doesn’t Mean It’s Good for Black Kids.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge

Politics

The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 6:23 PM Bryan Cranston Reenacts Baseball’s Best Moments to Promote the Upcoming Postseason
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 16 2014 4:09 PM It’s All Connected What links creativity, conspiracy theories, and delusions? A phenomenon called apophenia.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.