Did All the Members of the Constitutional Convention Want It to Be Held in Secrecy?

The Constitutional Convention was held secretly in Philadelphia's Independence Hall.
... DC Productions/Photodisc/Getty Images

Despite creating a government of democratic participation, the Constitution of the United States was drafted in secrecy. All delegates to the Constitutional Convention were prohibited from speaking with the media until after the convention finished. This "secrecy rule" was adopted to avoid hearsay about the convention spreading across the country. This rule was adopted and enforced without debate, though there is one known instance of a delegate later expressing his distaste for the rule.

1 Little Opposition

According to James Madison's "Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787," the secrecy rule was adopted without debate on May 29. The delegates reasoned that media rumors would put political pressure on the delegates that would limit their ability to draft a strong Constitution. While no one objected to secrecy -- at least according to Madison's official record -- Maryland delegate Luther Martin privately expressed reservations about the rule. Martin, however, arrived at the convention in June, after the secrecy rule had already been adopted, so he had no impact on the decision.

Kevin Wandrei has written extensively on higher education. His work has been published with Kaplan, Textbooks.com, and Shmoop, Inc., among others. He is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration at Cornell University.