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Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States by Howard Chandler Christy

by Howard Chandler Christy

About this Painting

Move your mouse over a delegate to see that delegate’s name and state.
Click on a delegate for further biographical information.

Daniel Carroll (Maryland) Daniel Carroll (Maryland) Abraham Baldwin (Georgia) Nathaniel Gorham (Massachusetts) Jonathan Dayton (New Jersey) Rufus King (Massachusetts) John Rutledge (South Carolina) Chas. Pinckney (South Carolina) Chas. Cotesworth Pinckney (South Carolina) Chas. Cotesworth Pinckney (South Carolina) Pierce Butler (South Carolina) Pierce Butler (South Carolina) Thomas FitzSimons (Pennsylvania) Thomas FitzSimons (Pennsylvania) Jared Ingersoll (Pennsylvania) George Clymer (Pennsylvania) Nicholas Gilman (New Hampshire) Thomas Mifflin (Pennsylvania) Roger Sherman (Connecticut) William Samuel Johnson (Connecticut) William Livingston (New Jersey) James McHenry (Maryland) Alexander Hamilton (New York) Benjamin Franklin (Pennsylvania) William Paterson (New Jersey) John Blair (Virginia) John Langdon (New Hampshire) Gouverneur Morris (Pennsylvania) James Madison (Virginia) John Dickinson (Delaware) Jacob Broom (Delaware) David Brearley (New Jersey) William Blount (North Carolina) Gunning Bedford, Jr. (Delaware) Hugh Williamson (North Carolina) Richard Dobbs Spaight (North Carolina) James Wilson (Pennsylvania) George Read (Delaware) Robert Morris (Pennsylvania) Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer (Maryland) Richard Bassett (Delaware) George Washington (Virginia) Rising Sun Chair William Jackson (Secretary) Flags and Drum

Signed: l.r. Howard Chandler Christy, Sail Loft, U.S. Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., April 1940
(This painting hangs in the east stairway in the House wing of the United States Capitol. More information about the painting…)


Not much is known about the story behind the Christy painting of the Signing of the Constitution (on 17 September 1787) despite the fact that it is conventionally acclaimed as the best single picture ever created of the American Founding. To be sure, Christy’s rendition is not the only one that portrays the American Founding. Barry Faulkner’s more accessible and competing version of the Signing in the National Archives comes to mind. Faulkner’s 1936 tableau rendition—coinciding with opening of the National Archives—of the Constitution portrays 25 delegates—three of whom declined to sign, three more who left early—standing in an ancient Roman setting. By contrast, Christy’s painting makes a great effort at historical authenticity, engages in political interpretation, captures the Convention at work, and brings the American Founders to life. MORE

Notes: Only 39 of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention are pictured in the Christy painting.

Not included are the 3 delegates who did not sign the Constitution: Edmund J. Randolph (Virginia)George Mason (Virginia), and Elbridge Gerry (Massachusetts).

Also not included are the 13 delegates who left the convention early: Oliver Ellsworth (Connecticut)William Houstoun (Georgia)William L. Pierce (Georgia)Luther Martin (Maryland)John F. Mercer (Maryland)Caleb Strong (Massachusetts)William C. Houston (New Jersey)John Lansing, Jr. (New York)Robert Yates (New York),William R. Davie (North Carolina)Alexander Martin (North Carolina)James McClurg (Virginia), and George Wythe (Virginia).

Contents

Introduction

The year was 1787. The place: the State House in Philadelphia. This is the story of the framing of the federal Constitution.

The Convention

Read the four-act drama and day-by-day summary by Gordon Lloyd, as well as Madison’s account of the Convention Debates.

Interactive Map of Historic Philadelphia in the Late 18th Century

Learn about historic Philadelphia and where the founders stayed, ate, and met.

View Interactive

Multimedia Resources

Watch video explanations of Dr. Lloyd’s view on the Convention.

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