The perception of instability in the national government worried a number of political leaders and led to efforts to address these concerns. James Madison of Virginia had spearheaded much of the effort to produce a national meeting to review the Articles of Confederation in order to make needed changes. At a meeting in Annapolis, Maryland, in September 1786, Madison convinced the five states represented to issue a call for a meeting of all states in Philadelphia for the following year. This meeting became the Constitutional Convention.
The Convention began its work on May 25, 1787, when delegates from twelve states had finally gathered in Philadelphia. Rhode Island never participated in the Convention. Its leaders believed that such a meeting was totally unnecessary and they refused to send delegates.
Over the course of the summer, 55 men took part in the meeting (not all at the same time). James Madison, who had been worried about the status of the Articles government since at least 1783, came to Philadelphia well prepared. His ideas, presented on May 29 by Edmund Randolph of Virginia, came to shape the debate. Called the Virginia Plan, Madison’s ideas favored the large states and called for a legislature with representation based on population. The small states countered on June 15 with the New Jersey Plan, which basically called for the Articles government with Congress having the power to tax. For more than two months, the delegates discussed and debated these ideas. They finally produced a compromise that resulted in the Constitution, adopted on September 17, 1787. The entire document was published in the Pennsylvania Packet on September 19, 1787.
Although the Convention delegates discussed and debated for more than three months, most Americans knew very little about the details of their deliberations. On May 29, 1787, the delegates adopted a secrecy agreement, declaring that none of the details of their discussions would leave the