History of the 1787 Constitutional Convention as Presented in
1787 the Musical
We Wrote the Constitution
by Robert Picklesimer
CHAPTER 2, PART 1
Who Didn’t Make the Cut: of the 55 Delegates who attended the Convention,
which delegates were still absolutely not needed, and which delegates
were still important figures, but needed to be cut for expediency
(continued from Chapter 1, Part 3)
Chapter 2, Part 1
Nicholas Gilman of New Hampshire came to Convention with John Langdon and on Langdon’s dime but otherwise said and did nothing but mirror Langdon.
(**would have liked to keep**) Caleb Strong of Massachusetts was the actual defender of Jason Parmenter (the defender role taken by Rufus King in the play), and he allied with Elbridge Gerry throughout the Convention often causing splits in the Massachusetts delegation. In the play we achieve this through other means, pitting King against Gerry, and having Gorham, the politician, usually abstaining, thus repeatedly causing the conflicts in the Massachusetts delegation.
(**would have liked to keep**) William Samuel Johnson, like his fellow from Connecticut Oliver Ellsworth, sided with Roger Sherman at every turn, and was wary of a central government that weakened the smaller states too much. Johnson was a highly respected elder statesman who served as the Chair of the Committee of Style, which wrote the final version of the Constitution that was voted upon and passed by the Convention. We replaced Johnson with Judge James Wilson on this Committee in the musical.
(**would have liked to keep**) Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut, though allied absolutely with Roger Sherman, was notable for two things at the Convention: he proposed we call it the “United States of America” and he made most of the motions on compromises that Sherman maneuvered, but we have Sherman do them all in the play. Then Oliver Ellsworth “persuaded” Rhode Island to join after Ratification. He was the last character we eliminated, and, in fact, we did include him, and none of these others, in the premiere version in Champaign, Illinois, 2011, and have eliminated this character from the script in revisions since.
(**would have liked to keep**) William Livingston of New Jersey was the highly respected long-term governor of New Jersey, but he said virtually nothing and backed Paterson all the way. Would have included only because of his prestige and his presence in 1776.
William Churchill Houston of New Jersey attended less than 2 weeks and did nothing.
Jonathan Dayton and David Brearly of New Jersey followed Paterson’s lead. Dayton later developed the area of Ohio including Dayton.
George Clymer, Thomas Mifflin, Thomas Fitzsimons, and Jared Ingersol of Pennsylvania said little and did even less.
(**would have liked to keep**) Robert Morris (unrelated to Gouverneur Morris) of Pennsylvania, “the Great Man,” did not speak in Convention, letting Wilson, G Morris, and Franklin speak for him, but, being the richest man in America and the “financier of the Revolution,” as well as hosting G Washington, would have been useful for his prestige. Instead, our characters talk about him.
Richard Bassett and Jacob Broom of Delaware were silent and inconspicuous.
(**would have liked to keep**) George Read of Delaware was interesting because he was also there in the 1776 Convention, and because of his friendship with John Dickinson. Read is one of the Older Patriots.
James McHenry, Daniel Carroll, and John Francis Mercer of Maryland were all essentially “small states” men who either followed Luther Martin or were like Daniel St. Thomas Jenifer, who was at the other end of the pole from Martin, worked with George Washington during the war, and was an absolute devotee of General Washington’s desire for a new and effective central government.
James McClurg and John Blair, Jr. of Virginia did not speak at the Convention, but Blair did cast the final deciding vote for the final form of the Constitution. Wythe had gone home for health reasons, but in the show we kept Wythe for that vote to manage a tie vote in Virginia, then had Washington step in to remind the others that he, too, was a delegate from Virginia: our Washington cast the final tie-breaking vote to pass the Constitution.
William Richardson Davie, Hugh Williamson, Alexander Martin, and Richard Dobbs Spaight of North Carolina were mainly allied with others of the South when they did speak, although Williamson was a world renowned scientist.
(**would have liked to keep**) Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, of South Carolina, uncle to Charles Pinckney, was an old line Conservative allied with John Rutledge.
(**would have liked to keep**) Pierce Butler, “the Major,” of South Carolina, was a former British Officer, was allied in the Convention with the younger Charles Pinckney, and was the most handsome and rake-ish of all the delegates – a model for the Rhett Butler of later fame. Many of his lines were given to Pinckney.
William Few, William Leigh Pierce, and William Houstoun of Georgia, did little at the Convention, although (**would have liked to keep**) Pierce did contribute written “sketches” describing the various delegates to this Convention.
Caleb Strong, Oliver Ellsworth, Robert Morris, George Read, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Pierce Butler, and William Leigh Pierce were actually in the script in early versions of the play/musical. (continue CHAPTER 2, PART 2)
CHAPTER 1, PART 1 How the Whole Thing Got Started
CHAPTER 1, PART 2 How the Whole Thing Got Started
CHAPTER 1, PART 3 How the Whole Thing Got Started
CHAPTER 2, PART 2 Who Didn’t Make the Cut of 55 Delegates
CHAPTER 3 Who Made the Cut
to be released:
CHAPTER 4 Virginia Delegation
CHAPTER 5 The Strong Delegation from Pennsylvania
CHAPTER 6 Small States; “Grumbletonians”; New Jersey Plan; Great Compromise
CHAPTER 7 The Other Two States with Grumbletonians
CHAPTER 8 Delegations from the South
1787 THE MUSICAL