Constitutional Law

History of the Constitution

After the Constitution was signed, what happened during the ratification process?

Article VII of the Constitution provides: “The ratification of the conventions of nine states shall be sufficient for the establishment of the Constitution between the states so ratifying the same.” This meant that the “real fight” did not come on the convention floor. It came in the states over whether to ratify the Constitution. Many merchants, manufacturers, and big plantation owners in the South favored the Constitution. They knew the new Constitution would help protect their business interests.

But, many small farmers did not want to sacrifice their individual freedom and become dependent on the business people. The battle over ratification became a great issue of the day. It captured the headlines and great space in the newspapers. Pamphlets were printed on each side. Congress directed the state legislatures to call ratification conventions to vote on the new document. Under the ratification process, the state legislatures would vote to call special conventions. Delegates, often the state legislators themselves, would vote at the conventions.

The ratification process was not easy. Political leaders were divided. Supporters of the new Constitution with its strong central government called themselves Federal ists. Opponents of the Constitution were called Anti-Federalists. Many of them opposed the Constitution because it failed to provide for a bill of rights and gave too much power to the federal government at the expense of the state governments.


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