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the 1st of February, 1788, when five States had already ratified the Constitution.
The first ratification was by Delaware, on the 7th of December, 1787. It was done unanimously, and without the recommendation of any amendment.
Pennsylvania was the second to ratify. This was
done, without declaration or recommendation, on the 12th of December, by a vote of 46 to 23.
New Jersey ratified the Constitution December 18th. vote was unanimous.
The next was Georgia, which was also unanimous in her ratification. It was done January 2d, 1788.
Connecticut followed on the 9th of January, ratifying without any declaration, and without recommendations, by a vote of 128 to 40.
The convention of Massachusetts commenced its sessions on the 9th of January, the day of the ratification by Connecticut, and continued in session till the 7th of February. The discussion was warm and able, and the Constitution was ratified at last by a majority of only 19 in a Convention of 355. Nine amendments were recommended, two or three of which were included in the amendments proposed by the First Congress.
Maryland passed a vote of ratification April 28th. The vote stood 63 to 11; and there were no amendments or resolutions. South Carolina ratified the Constitution May 23d, 1788, by a vote of 149 to 73. Several amendments were recommended. The ninth State was New Hampshire. Her ratification was made June 21st, 1788, by a majority of 11. The convention had assembled in February, but after a warm discussion had adjourned to the 18th of June. Three conventions were in session at the same time that of Virginia having convened June 2d, and that of New York on the 17th. New Hampshire accompanied her ratification. with twelve amendments, of which three were subsequently embodied in the amendments proposed by Congress.
shire the Ninth State.
As the Constitution was to become binding when nine States had ratified it, New Hampshire completed the number. As soon as the intelligence of her action reached Congress, a committee was appointed to report an act for putting the Constitution into operation.
The tenth State in the order of ratification was Virginia. She ratified on the 25th of June, by a vote of 89 to 79.1 It should be stated that this vote was taken before the convention knew of the action of New Hampshire. The members of the Virginia Convention supposed that by her ratification she would make the number complete. The convention proposed many amendments, and accompanied their ratification with a declaration of rights. "We, the delegates of the people of Virginia, *** do, in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by them whenever they shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, etc."
This shows very clearly the opinion of the majority of the members of the convention as to the source of the powers granted under the Constitution. These powers came, not from the States, but from the people of the United States.
New York was the eleventh State to ratify the Constitution. The opposition was very strong, and it was for some time doubtful whether the vote of ratification could be carried. New York It will be remembered that two of the three delegates sent by New York to the Convention which framed the Constitution, left the Convention when they became satisfied that a new instrument would be framed. These two delegates-Messrs. Lansing and Yates-as well as Mr. Hamilton, were in the State convention. A form of ratification was
1 The date usually given is June 26th. The vote of ratification was on the 25th; an engrossed form of the ratification was read and signed by the president on the 26th. Elliot, III, page 656.
proposed which provided that the act of ratification was made "on condition" that Congress would not exercise certain powers till a general Convention should be called for proposing amendments. The words "" on condition" were finally stricken out, and the words "in full confidence" substituted; though the vote was 31 to 29. In this form the ratification was voted, 30 to 27, on the 26th of July.
A long declaration of rights was made, and a great number of amendments proposed.
The convention of North Carolina commenced its session July 21st, but adjourned on the second of August, after passing a resolution that a declaration of rights and certain amendments ought to be laid before Congress and a convention which might be called for amending the Constitution, previous to its ratification by North Carolina. This was adopted by 184 to 84. More than a year later another convention was held, and, on the 21st of November, 1789, North Carolina ratified the Constitution by a majority of II. This was more than eight months after the Constitution had gone into operation. This ratification was accompanied with a bill of rights and many amendments, mostly like those of Virginia. It should be noted that delegates from North Carolina, and one of those from Rhode Island, continued in Congress to the last, and delegates from both States voted on questions pertaining to the Constitution as late as August 6th, 1788.
Rhode Island sent no delegates to the Convention which framed the Constitution. When that instrument was received from Congress, the legislature caused it to be published and circulated among the people, but did
not call a convention to ratify it. Instead of this Rhode Island, they referred the adoption of it to the people in their town meetings for the purpose of having it rejected. There were but four thousand legal voters in the State, and of the small minority who favored the adoption of the Constitution few voted. The votes against it were 2,708; those in favor,
232. This was in March, 1788. After an interval of more than two years Rhode Island called a convention, and the Constitution was ratified on the 29th of May, 1790.
The ratification of New Hampshire, which was the ninth in order, was received by Congress July 2d, 1788. A committee was appointed on the same day to examine the various ratifications and report an act for putting the Constitution into operation. The only member who voted against the appointment of a committee was Mr. Yates, of New York, who left the Constitutional Convention and voted against the ratification of the Constitution in the convention of New York.
The committee reported, on the 14th of July, an act which was debated till the 13th of September, when the following resolution was adopted:
Resolved, That the first Wednesday in January next be the day for appointing electors in the several States, which, before the said day, shall have ratified the said Constitution; that the first Wednesday in February next be the day for the electors to assemble in their respective States and vote for a President; and that the first Wednesday in March next be the time, and the present seat of Congress the place, for commencing proceedings under the said Constitution."
The first Wednesday in March of the year 1789 happened to be the fourth day, which thus became the initial day of our governmental year. On the 4th of March each new Congress commences its existence, and on this day the President is inaugurated.
Elections of Senators and Representatives were held in the several States, and the first Congress under the Constitution met on the 4th of March, 1789. For want of a quorum the organization was not effected till the 1st of April in the House and the 6th of April in the Senate. The electoral votes were then counted in the presence of both Houses.
George Washington was found to have been elected President by a unanimous vote (69); and John Adams was declared Vicepresident, as having the next highest number (34), Washington though it was less than a majority. Mr. Adams took the chair as President of the Senate April
the First President.
21st, and General Washington was inaugurated President April 30th, 1789, in the city of New York.
Thus quietly the government went into operation under the new Constitution. It was extraordinary that a President should have been unanimously elected when we remember the great opposition which the Constitution encountered, and that the new President had presided over the Convention which framed that instrument. the expiration of his first term, President Washington was again elected by a unanimous vote, fifteen States now voting while before there had been but ten.' Vermont and Kentucky had been admitted into the Union before the second presidential election. Since the administration of President Washington, no President has received the votes of all the electors.
Those who had opposed the Constitution in the State conventions gave in their acquiescence when they found that the people had voted to ratify it. The dangers which had been feared were found to be imaginary. The Constitution has proved itself to be just what the Nation needed. Once only has there been a determined effort to overthrow it. To effect this, an interpretation was placed upon the Constitution the opposite of that attributed to it by those who opposed its ratification in 1787 and 1788. Patrick Henry, and those who agreed with. him, would not ratify the Constitution because it was the Con
1 At the time of the first election, North Carolina and Rhode Island had not ratified the Constitution, and the two Houses of the New York legislature disagreed as to the mode of choosing electors.
2 Sir Henry Sumner Maine, writing in 1885, speaks of the signal success of the Constitution of the United States, and affirms it to be "much the most important political instrument of modern times."-Popular Government, page 196.