The significance of signatures: Why the framers signed the constitution and what they meant by doing so

Abstract

In this article, I discuss the signatures on the U.S. Constitution. I begin with a historical account of the Constitution's signing, noting in particular that unlike its ancestors, the Constitution was signed well before it began to assume legal status. I then explore the ways in which the Constitution's signatures served as useful advertisements for the document during ratification. Finally, I demonstrate that the Constitution's signatures (and the clause introducing them) gave rise to considerable interpretive ambiguity during both the Constitutional Convention and the ratification process that followed.

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