Ratification of the Constitution

Every U.S. child quickly memorizes the date that the Declaration of Independence was signed, though it actually wasn’t signed in one day (but that is another topic.) Independence Day is celebrated with fireworks and parades all across the U.S. However, without the Constitution, the newly freed states were without a proper government structure. Thus, the Constitution is arguably more important that the Declaration of Independence, but it’s date is far less known. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the 9th state to ratify the Constitution, which brought it into effect. The Constitution took the place of the Articles of Confederation, which had previously defined the roles of government. However, the Articles brought much argument and division, so another constitutional convention was formed. From May to September of 1787, delegates labored over writing a new document that would satisfy all parties. Finally, on September 17, 1787, the delegates agreed upon the Constitution. Each member than departed to garner support in their own states. Gaining support was harder than one might think. In a political climate where these colonies had just fought to free themselves from a centralized government, the thought of any centralized governmental power was quite upsetting. However, through the failures of the Articles of Confederation, enough support was garnered to ratify the Constitution. Five states had ratified the document by December of 1787, but the other states required more convincing. After a compromise which promised that a bill of rights, or set of amendments, would be added to protect certain fundamental rights, four more states ratified the document. It took most of a year for nine of the thirteen states to ratify the Constitution. Even then, the last few states were not satisfied with the document as is. As some have talked about a new Constitutional convention to rewrite our nations Constitution, it does beg the question, could it ever be accomplished? Given the time and effort required when only thirteen states were in question, the time and complexity must be immeasurably more with fifty states. Whether it would be worth it is something the public will have to decide, just as those states had to carefully weigh how the government was being written into existence.



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