Article Seven of the United States Constitution

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Article Seven of the United States Constitution explains what needs to happen for the Constitution to be approved. It says that nine states need to ratify the Constitution before it takes effect. To ratify the Constitution, a special group in each state called a Convention would have to approve the Constitution.

Text[change | change source]

The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.[1]

In Simple English, this means: The approval of nine states' Conventions will be enough to make this Constitution official in those states.

Background[change | change source]

Before the United States Constitution was passed, the United States had another constitution called the Articles of Confederation.[2] These Articles made the United States into a confederation. The legislature of the confederation government was called the Congress of the Confederation.[2]

After a few years, the Founding Fathers decided the United States needed a new constitution and a new form of government.[3] They formed a group called the Constitutional Convention to write a new constitution.[4] The group finished its final version of the Constitution on September 17, 1787. Three days later, the Convention gave its suggested Constitution to the Congress of the Confederation to get its support.[4]

The Congress debated a lot about the Constitution. Members of Congress did not agree on whether Congress should support the new Constitution or not. On September 28, the Congress came to a compromise.[4] They decided just to give the states the Constitution and let them vote on it. Congress would not suggest that the states pass the Constitution, or that they not pass it. This way, the decision would truly be up to the states; no state would be affected by Congress's opinion.[4]

Approval[change | change source]

In 1787 and 1788, there were debates across the United States about the suggested new Constitution.[4] Each state's Convention would have to vote on the Constitution. For a state to ratify the Constitution, more than half of the members of its Convention would have to vote for the Constitution.

On December 7, 1987, Delaware became the first state to ratify the suggested Constitution. All 30 of the members of its Convention voted for the Constitution.[5]

On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to approve the Constitution.[5] Now that nine states had ratified the Constitution, it became the highest and most important law of the United States. The United States would have a new form of government, based on the ideas set out in the Constitution.[6]

Four states are still left[change | change source]

However, four states still had not approved the Constitution. These states were Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island.[5] If they did not approve the Constitution, they would not be a part of the new government of the United States.

The Congress of the Confederation decided that the United States would start using the new Constitution on March 4, 1789.[6] Before that day, Virginia and New York ratified the Constitution.[7][8] However, when the first United States Congress gathered on March 4 to form the new government, North Carolina and Rhode Island still had not approved the Constitution. After the new Congress added the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, though, North Carolina and Rhode Island ratified the Constitution.[9]

Order of approval[change | change source]

The Constitution was ratified by the states in this order:[5]

Date State Votes Percentage
who Approved
Yes No
1 December 7, 1787 Delaware 30 0 100%
2 December 12, 1787 Pennsylvania 46 23 67%
3 December 18, 1787 New Jersey 38 0 100%
4 January 2, 1788 Georgia 26 0 100%
5 January 9, 1788 Connecticut 128 40 76%
6 February 6, 1788 Massachusetts 187 168 53%
7 April 28, 1788 Maryland 63 11 85%
8 May 23, 1788 South Carolina 149 73 67%
9 June 21, 1788 New Hampshire 57 47 55%
Constitution approved
10 June 25, 1788 Virginia 89 79 53%
11 July 26, 1788 New York 30 27 53%
12 November 21, 1789 North Carolina 194 77 72%
13 May 29, 1790 Rhode Island 34 32 52%
Total: 1071 577 65%

References[change | change source]

  1. "The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription". Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "The Articles of Confederation". College of Law: U.S. Historical Documents. University of Oklahoma. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  3. Rakove, Jack N. (1988). "The Collapse of the Articles of Confederation". In J. Jackson Barlow; Leonard W. Levy; & Ken Masugi (eds.). The American Founding: Essays on the Formation of the Constitution. pp. 225–45. ISBN 978-0313256103.CS1 maint: Multiple names: editors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: editors list (link)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Lloyd, Gordon. "Ratification of the Constitution". Teaching American History. The Ashbrook Center at Ashland University. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "The States and the Ratification Process". Center for the Study of the American Constitution. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Rodgers, Paul (2011). United States Constitutional Law: An Introduction. McFarland. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-7864-6017-5.
  7. "An Introduction to Ratification in Virginia" (PDF). Center for the Study of the American Constitution. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  8. "Introduction Essay to Ratification in New York" (PDF). Center for the Study of the American Constitution. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved March 13, 2016.
  9. "Introduction to Ratification in Rhode Island" (PDF). Center for the Study of the American Constitution. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved March 13, 2016.

Other websites[change | change source]