Constitution 225: There’s a “fifth” page the public has never seen


Millions of people have passed through the Rotunda of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, to see the original parchments that are our Charters of Freedom. They pause to look at the faded writing on the Declaration of Independence, the bold opening words “We the People” on the Constitution, and the straightforward enumeration of our Bill of Rights.

This year, for the first time, visitors will be able to see what is sometimes referred to as the “fifth page” of the Constitution—the Resolutions of Transmittal to the Continental Congress. A special display for the 225th anniversary of the Constitution in September, will feature this document. “It’s up there with the Constitution in terms of value,” says curator Alice Kamps.

The resolutions spell out how the new Constitution would be adopted by the United States and how the new government would be put into effect.

Instead of seeking the consent of Congress and the 13 state legislatures, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention proposed that the Constitution “be laid before the United States in Congress assembled” and then submitted  to  special ratifying conventions elected by the people in each of the states. Once nine states had ratified it, this new instrument of government  would go into effect in those nine states.

This process was carefully devised to ensure that the authority of the new government came from the people. Without the resolution, the Constitution, in the words of James Madison, “was nothing more than the draft of a plan, nothing but a dead letter, until life and validity were breathed into it by the voice of the people.”

The page will only be on display from September 14 to 19. See the “fifth page” and the other four pages of the Constitution at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.

6 thoughts on “Constitution 225: There’s a “fifth” page the public has never seen

  1. The “fifth page” is sort of hard to read, but the Resolved States in list form are:

    New Hampshire
    Mr. Hamilton from New York
    New Jersey
    North Carolina
    South Carolina

    I’m from New York State (The Empire State, Excelsior, etc. etc). I don’t ever recall hearing it called “Mr. Hamilton from New York.” What’s up with that? Also, is there a page six?

  2. Full Text: Letter of Transmittal Page

    In Convention. Monday September 17th 1787.

 The States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Mr. Hamilton from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

    Resolved, That the preceeding Constitution be laid before the United States in Congress assembled, and that it is the Opinion of this Convention, that it should afterwards be submitted to a Convention of Delegates, chosen in each State by the People thereof, under the Recommendation of its Legislature, for their Assent and Ratification; and that each Convention assenting to, and ratifying the Same, should give Notice thereof to the United States in Congress assembled.

    Resolved, That it is the Opinion of this Convention, that as soon as the Conventions of nine States shall have ratified this Constitution, the United States in Congress assembled should fix a Day on which Electors should be appointed by the States which shall have ratified the same, and a Day on which the Electors should assemble to vote for the President, and the Time and Place for commencing Proceedings under this Constitution.
That after such Publication the Electors should be appointed, and the Senators and Representatives elected: That the Electors should meet on the Day fixed for the Election of the President, and should transmit their Votes certified, signed, sealed and directed, as the Constitution requires, to the Secretary of the United States in Congress assembled, that the Senators and Representatives should convene at the Time and Place assigned; that the Senators should appoint a President of the Senate, for the sole Purpose of receiving, opening and counting the Votes for President; and, that after he shall be chosen, the Congress, together with the President, should, without Delay, proceed to execute this Constitution.

    By the unanimous Order of the Convention
    W. Jackson Secretary.
    Geo Washington -President.

    1. Thank you so much for typing the Full Text: Letter of Transmittal Page. I tried looking for it on the National Archives and did not find that it was available. Does anyone know if a better resolution image exists of “page five?”

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