What was the order for ratification of the Constitution?

James Madison, Fourth President of the United States
James Madison, Fourth President of the United States. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-13004

The United States Constitution was created to replace the failing Articles of Confederation. At the end of the American Revolution, the founders had created the Articles of Confederation as a method to allow states to keep their individual powers while still gaining of the benefit of being part of a larger entity. The Articles had gone into effect on March 1, 1781. However, by 1787 it became apparent that they were not viable in the long term.

This especially became clear when in 1786, Shay's Rebellion occurred in western Massachusetts. This was a group of people who were protesting rising debt and economic chaos. When the national government tried to get states to send a military force to help stop the rebellion, many states were reluctant and chose not to get involved.

Need for a New Constitution

Many states realized the need to come together and form a stronger national government. Some states met to try and deal with their individual trade and economic issues. However, they soon realized that this would not be enough. On May 25, 1787, the states sent delegates to Philadelphia to try and change the Articles to deal with the issues that had arisen. The articles had a number of weaknesses including that each state only had one vote in Congress, and the national government had no power to tax and no ability to regulate foreign or interstate trade.

In additional there was no executive branch to enforce nationwide laws. Amendments required a unanimous vote and individual laws required a 9/13 majority to pass. Once the individuals who met in what was to become the Constitutional Convention realized that changing the Articles would not be enough to fix the issues facing the new United States, they set to work to replace them with a new Constitution.

 

Constitutional Convention

James Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution, set to work to get a document created that would still be flexible enough to ensure that states retained their rights yet created a strong enough national government to keep order among the states and meet threats from within and without. The 55 framers of the Constitution met in secret to debate the individual parts of the new Constitution. Many compromises occurred over the course of the debate including the Great Compromise. In the end, they had created a document that would need to be sent to the states for ratification. In order for the Constitution to become law, at least nine states would have to ratify the Constitution. The ninth state, New Hampshire, ratified it on June 21, 1788, and the new Constitution went into effect on March 4, 1789. 

Order of Ratification

Here is the order in which the states ratified the US Constitution.

  1. Delaware - December 7, 1787
  2. Pennsylvania - December 12, 1787
  3. New Jersey - December 18, 1787
  4. Georgia - January 2, 1788
  5. Connecticut - January 9, 1788
  6. Massachusetts - February 6, 1788
  7. Maryland - April 28, 1788
  8. South Carolina - May 23, 1788
  9. New Hampshire - June 21, 1788
  10. Virginia - June 25, 1788
  1. New York - July 26, 1788
  2. North Carolina - November 21, 1789
  3. Rhode Island - May 29, 1790
     

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