This final post on the original Constitution is part of a series that will make more sense if it is read in order. If you haven’t read the earlier posts in this series, please click here to start with the first one. One reason I’ve broken this series into fairly small parts is that we have a tendency to rush through reading the Constitution and miss a lot of it. I hope the readers of this series will ponder the points in each session. I also hope you will comment on each post as we go along.
Throughout this series on the Constitution, my comments will be in black normal font, and the text of the document will be in this color and italicized.
The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.
DONE in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth
IN WITNESS whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,
GO. WASHINGTON—President and deputy from Virginia
[Signed also by the deputies of twelve States.]
Delaware New Hampshire
GEO: READ JOHN LANGDON
GUNNING BEDFORD JUN NICHOLAS GILMAN
RICHARD BASSETT Massachusetts
JACO: BROOM NATHANIEL GORHAM
JAMES MCHENRY WM. SAML. JOHNSON
DAN OF ST THOS JENIFER ROGER SHERMAN
Virginia New York
JOHN BLAIR ALEXANDER HAMILTON
JAMES MADISON JR.
North Carolina New Jersey
WM BLOUNT WIL: LIVINGSTON
RICHD. DOBBS SPAIGHT DAVID BREARLEY
HU WILLIAMSON WM. PATERSON
South Carolina Pennsylvania
J. RUTLEDGE B FRANKLIN
CHARLES COTESWORTH PINCKNEY THOMAS MIFFLIN
CHARLES PINCKNEY ROBT MORRIS
PIERCE BUTLER GEO. CLYMER
Georgia JARED INGERSOLL
WILLIAM FEW JAMES WILSON
ABR BALDWIN GOUV MORRIS
Attest: WILLIAM JACKSON Secretary
The only substantive provision of this article was that it went into force when nine states ratified it. Since there were thirteen original states, that did not constitute a three-fourths majority, as is required to amend it; however, the wording says that it only applied to those states that did ratify it, so the first nine became one hundred per cent of those it originally covered.
Actually, twelve of the thirteen state ratified it very quickly. Rhode Island, which didn’t even send representatives to the convention, was the only holdout. Theoretically, it could have refused to join the union, since original ratification was voluntary, but on May 29, 1790, it became the last state to ratify and join.
It’s interesting to see the difference in the number of representatives sent by the various states. Those states closest to Philadelphia generally sent more delegates than others, even though they were not the most populous.
“We’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it.”
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