Author & Speaker

The Anniversary Everyone Forgets

Well, I missed it by three days, too. June 21 is the anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution! On that date in 1788, the New Hamphshire Convention ratified the new national charter, becoming the ninth state to do so. Under the Constitution’s own terms, it went into effect with ratification by nine of the 13 states.
Some pretty big states still had not ratified — Virginia, New York, and North Carolina. Virginia ratified on June 25, after a real donnybrook between James Madison (pro-ratification) and Patrick Henry (anti).
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James Madison
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Patrick Henry

New York acted a month later. North Carolina, though, did not join up until November 1789 (seven months after George Washington was inaugurated as president). Rhode Island straggled in by May 1790.
It was no accident that Article VII of the Constitution did not require unanimity for ratification. The Articles of Confederation could only be ratified by a unanimous vote of all thirteen states, which meant that it took almost four years to get ratification. In that case, Maryland was the problem, holding out until Virginia agreed to abandon many of its more extravagant claims to own the Western lands beyond the Appalachian Mountains.
So lift a glass to New Hampshire tonight. It made the new nation.