In 1861, the states held a dry run for an Article V “convention for proposing amendments.”
The event was the Washington Conference Convention or Washington Peace Conference. It was called by the Virginia legislature in January of 1861 in an effort to avert the Civil War. The idea was that the convention would draft and propose one or more constitutional amendments that, if ratified, would weaken extremists in both the North and the South, and thereby save the Union.
This gathering differed from an Article V convention primarily in that it made its proposal to Congress rather than to the states. In most other respects, it was a blueprint for how an Article V convention would conduct itself.
When the convention met in Washington D.C. on February 4, 1861, seven of the eleven states eventually in the Confederacy already had seceded. Of the 26 then remaining in the Union, 21 sent committees (delegations). The conference lasted until February 27, when it proposed a 7-section constitutional amendment.Details