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Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 2269

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

[Sidenote: First nine states.]

As the State conventions assembled, the excitement grew more intense. Four States alone contained within a few thousands of half the population of the Union: they were Massachusetts, Virginia, New York, and North Carolina. In the convention of each of these States there was opposition strong and stubborn; one of them-North Carolina-adjourned without action; in the other three, ratification was obtained with extreme difficulty and by narrow majorities.

The first State to come under the "New Roof," as the Constitution was popularly called, was Delaware. In rapid succession followed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut. In Massachusetts, the sixth State, there was a hard fight; the spirit of the Shays Rebellion was still alive; the opposition of Samuel Adams was only overcome by showing him that he was in the minority; John Hancock was put out of the power to interfere by making him the silent president of the convention. It was suggested that Massachusetts ratify on condition that a long list of amendments be adopted by the new government: the friends of the Constituti

on pointed out that the plan was simply to ratify a part of the Constitution and to reject the rest; each succeeding State would insist on a list of amendments, and the whole work must be done over. Feb. 6, 1788, the enthusiastic people of Boston knew that the convention, by a vote of 187 to 167, had ratified the Constitution; the amendments being added, not as a condition, but as a suggestion. Maryland, South Carolina, and New Hampshire brought the number up to nine.

[Sidenote: Virginia and New York.]

Before the ninth ratification was known, the fight had been won also in Virginia. Among the champions of the Constitution were Madison, Edmund Randolph, and John Marshall. James Monroe argued against the system of election which was destined twice to make him President. In spite of the determined opposition of Patrick Henry, and in spite of a proposition to ratify with amendments, the convention accepted. New York still held off. Her acquiescence was geographically necessary; and Alexander Hamilton, by the power of his eloquence and his reason, changed the vote of a hostile convention and added the eleventh State.

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