16. Happy Constitution Day!

It was 225 years ago today — which also happened to be a Monday, as a matter of fact — that the Constitutional Convention finished their work, and the US Constitution was signed.  Of course, that was not the end of the matter.  It still needed to be presented to the states, and ratified by nine of them before it would go into effect.  (That happened on June 21, 1788, when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution.)

I have done some reading on how the Constitution came into being, and the more I read about it, the more I am convinced of one thing.  I am more and more truly amazed that the Constitutional Convention produced a finished product, let alone that it was ratified and became the supreme law of the United States.

As best as I can tell, most of America’s leaders at the time agreed that the Articles Of Confederation were proving to be an inadequate foundation for the national government.  The major point of contention seemed to be how to deal with those inadequacies.  Some felt that a mere revision of the Articles was all that was necessary, while others thought that the Articles had to be replaced with an entirely new document.  (And I suspect that there was probably a broad spectrum of viewpoints between those two.)  (Make that a very broad spectrum.)

It took the entire summer of 1787 to create the Constitution, but on September 17 of that year, the Constitutional Convention agreed to the following resolution:

“In Convention Monday, September 17, 1787.

“Present The States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Mr. Hamilton from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

“Resolved, That the preceding Constitution be laid before the United States in Congress assembled, and that it is the Opinion of this Convention, that it should be afterwards be submitted to a Convention of Delegates, chosen in each State by the People thereof, under the Recommendation of its Legislature, for their Assent and Ratification; and that each Convention assenting to, and ratifying the Same, should give Notice thereof to the United States in Congress assembled.

“Resolved, That it is the Opinion of this Convention, that as soon as the Conventions of nine States shall have ratified this Constitution, the United States in Congress assembled should fix a Day on which Electors should be appointed by the States which have ratified the same, and a Day on which the Electors should assemble to vote for the President, and the Time and Place for commencing Proceedings under this Constitution.

“That after such Publication the Electors should be appointed, and the Senators and Representatives elected:

“That the Electors should meet on the Day fixed for the Election of the President, and should transmit their Votes certified, signed, sealed, and directed, as the Constitution requires, to the Secretary of the United States in Congress assembled, that the Senators and Representatives should convene at the Time and Place assigned; that the Senators should appoint a President of the Senate, for the sole purpose of receiving, opening, and counting the votes for President; and, that after he shall be chosen, the Congress, together with the President, should, without Delay, proceed to execute this Constitution.

“By the unanimous Order of the Convention

“George Washington — President
“William Jackson — Secretary.”

As with the previous entry on the Declaration Of Independence, I am quoting from a collection published by Fall River Press in 2002.



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