Attendance at the Constitutional Convention
The Confederation Congress set Monday, May 14th as the first day of the Convention. Apart from the Virginia delegation few were present on that day. It wasn’t until Friday, May 25th that quorum was reached and the Convention could officially begin. From that point on delegates continually came and went.
The New Hampshire delegates, Nicholas Gilman and John Langdon, were the last to arrive on July 23rd; William Churchill Houston of New Jersey was the first to miss a day (May 28); and on June 2nd James McHenry became the first delegate to take an extended leave of absence. Two days later, George Wythe of Virginia became the first delegation to leave the Convention permanently; William Pierce of Georgia followed him roughly a month later; and Robert Yates and John Lansing, both of New York, left a mere week after that.
Each state chose their own delegates and set their own quorum for voting. Due to the absence of their delegates, some states were unable to vote on the certain days.
On what days did what delegates actually attend?
There are 12 “turning points” in the work of the Convention. We examine these “crossroad” days and connect them to certain individual delegates and delegations, examining the role each played in moving the Convention to the next stage of its task.