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The 1787 convention printed only two drafts of the Constitution for discussion. This second draft replaced a list of states with the phrase “We the People of the United States,” emphasizing that the national government represented the people rather than a coalition of states. This rare copy belonged to New Jersey delegate David Brearley.

Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, National Archives and Records Administration

Printed Draft of the U.S. Constitution by the Committee on Revision of Style and Arrangement, September 13, 1787

Creating a National Government

The newly independent states united to establish a national government under the Articles of Confederation. The Articles made progress difficult because the weak central government depended on unanimous consent of the states and lacked the power to regulate taxes and trade. Meeting from May to September 1787, a convention called to amend the Articles instead drew on other documents and plans of governance to create a stronger framework for union: the United States Constitution.