The Indispensable Men of the Convention
James Madison--short, sickly, and with a tendency to mumble in his speech-making, the thirty-seven year old Madison was as politically and intellectually astute as he was physically unimposing. Through his diligent preparation before the Convention, embodied most dramatically in his draft of the Virginia Plan, he was able to steal the initiative from those delegates who arrived at the Convention with only the modest goal of "amending" the Articles of Confederation.
George Washington--Having agreed to attend the Convention only with the greatest reluctance, he did not miss a single day of that body's proceedings. And despite the fact that he uttered barely a word during the debates, his prestige, dignity, and even-handedness in presiding over the proceedings
reinforced his reputation as America's "indispensable man."
Benjamin Franklin--"Dr. Franklin," wrote the Georgia delegate William Pierce, "is well known to be the greatest philosopher of his age; all of the operations of nature he seems to understand, the very heavens obey him, and the Clouds yield up their Lightning to be imprisoned in his rod." Franklin's contributions to the debates in the Convention were often quirky, but his final speech at the Convention, urging the delegates to check their egos at the door and put the need for a harmonious union above their own interests and ideologies, marked a decisive moment in the process of the making of the Constitution.