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Subject: June 21, 1788
Date: Tue, 21 Jun 2005 20:28:03 EDT


June 21

1788 U.S. Constitution ratified
New Hampshire becomes the ninth and last necessary state to ratify the
Constitution of the United States, thereby making the document the law of the
land.
By 1786, defects in the post-Revolutionary War Articles of Confederation
were apparent, such as the lack of central authority over foreign and domestic
commerce. Congress endorsed a plan to draft a new constitution, and on May 25,
1787, the Constitutional Convention convened at Independence Hall in
Philadelphia. On September 17, 1787, after three months of debate moderated by
convention president George Washington, the new U.S. constitution, which created a
strong federal government with an intricate system of checks and balances,
was signed by 38 of the 41 delegates present at the conclusion of the
convention. As dictated by Article VII, the document would not become binding until
it was ratified by nine of the 13 states.
Beginning on December 7, five states--Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey,
Georgia, and Connecticut--ratified it in quick succession. However, other
states, especially Massachusetts, opposed the document, as it failed to reserve
undelegated powers to the states and lacked constitutional protection of basic
political rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press. In
February 1788, a compromise was reached under which Massachusetts and other
states would agree to ratify the document with the assurance that amendments would
be immediately proposed. The Constitution was thus narrowly ratified in
Massachusetts, followed by Maryland and South Carolina. On June 21, 1788, New
Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document, and it was subsequently
agreed that government under the U.S. Constitution would begin on March 4,
1789. In June, Virginia ratified the Constitution, followed by New York in
July.
On September 25, 1789, the first Congress of the United States adopted 12
amendments to the U.S. Constitution--the Bill of Rights--and sent them to the
states for ratification. Ten of these amendments were ratified in 1791. In
November 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the U.S.
Constitution. Rhode Island, which opposed federal control of currency and was critical
of compromise on the issue of slavery, resisted ratifying the Constitution
until the U.S. government threatened to sever commercial relations with the
state. On May 29, 1790, Rhode Island voted by two votes to ratify the document,
and the last of the original 13 colonies joined the United States. Today the
U.S. Constitution is the oldest written constitution in operation in the
world.



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