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This platform goes inside the founding fathers’ deliberations during the Constitutional Convention

The Quill Project, which originated at the University of Oxford, recently debuted in D.C.

The Quill Project looks to go inside the room at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. (Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons)

At one point during the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Delegate Benjamin Franklin cried out for divine intervention within the divided chamber of the Old Pennsylvania Statehouse.

That tidbit and a step-by-step analysis of negotiations by the founding fathers have been compiled into The Quill Project,  a comprehensive research platform that was formally unveiled at the U.S. Capitol on February 13.

The Convention, which was held in Philadelphia from May 25 to September 17, 1787, was presided over by George Washington and laid the foundation for the American system of government. Delegates from the states included Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and George Mason – all of whom decided at the onset to follow British parliamentary procedure. The Quill Project used the minutes of the sessions by the Convention Secretary William Jackson, Virginia Delegate James Madison’s diary and other records that documented the work that laid the foundation for the U.S. Constitution.

“They agreed very quickly and without any real fuss on a set of rules that govern their behavior,” Dr. Nicholas Cole, of Oxford, who created the platform, told DC. “The Convention really did dig into matters of substance head-on… If you walk step by step through the (records), you see that you do end up with the Constitution in the end.”

Cole created the platform with Dr. Alfie Abdul-Rahman, a research associate at the Oxford e-Research Centre. The project is a collaboration between Oxford’s Pembroke College and the Center for Constitutional Studies at Utah Valley University and the group are currently disseminating 1895 Utah State Convention. UVU President Matt Holland joined Cole and U.S. Senator Mike Lee of Utah for a demonstration at the Capitol Visitor Center.


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