Visualizing the Framers
In 1939, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the United States Congress commissioned Howard Chandler Christy to produce the 20 by 30 foot painting of the signing. This famous painting was unveiled in 1940 in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. Christy had established his reputation with the "Christy Girl" posters that presented images of smart, sophisticated young women, often in conjunction with patriotic themes. His "Signing of the Constitution" reflects a deep commitment to historical accuracy, including the obscuring of the faces of delegates for whom no contemporary portraits were available as models.
Professor Gordon Lloyd, working with the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs, has produced an interactive version of this painting (accessible by either clicking on the image or here). Roll the cursor over the figures of the delegates to learn more about their lives and contributions to America. Read more about Christy and his painting at TeachingAmericanHistory.org.
You may wonder who were these individual sometimes called "framers" were. How did they gain a place at the table in Philadelphia? And by what right did they claim to represent “We the People of the United States” when they signed the Constitution? Begin your investigation with the man who is most closely associated with the drafting of the Constitution, James Madison. You can learn more about Madison and his role at the Constitutional Convention in James Madison: Madison Was There. Most Americans of all ages have heard of Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin, all present at the Convention but have they heard of Oliver Ellsworth? You and your students can learn about a few of the drafters of the Constitution with whom they may not yet be familiar in the lesson plan The Constitutional Convention: Four Founding Fathers You May Never Have Met.
For more fun, you can take this quiz, Which Founder are You? from the National Constitution Center.