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Why did it take so long to ratify the American Constitution?

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Introduction

Why did it take so long to ratify the American Constitution? On the 17th September 1787 the new constitution was published as a result of the Philadelphia Convention. All the states were represented at the Convention apart from Rhode Island, who refused to participate. The first draft set up a system of checks and balances that included a strong executive branch, a representative legislature and a federal judiciary. The Constitution was remarkable, but deeply flawed. For one thing, it did not include a specific declaration, or bill, of individual rights. It specified what the government could do, but did not say what it could not do. It also did not apply to everyone; the consent of the governed meant propertied white men only. For the constitution to come into practice it had to be ratified by at least nine states. The nation was split into two: Federalists, for ratification, and Anti-Federalists, against ratification. The federalists had a hard task ahead of them; it was obvious that Rhode Island would oppose the constitution meaning only four other states would have to refuse to comply and the constitution would be dead. The Federalists employed a vast propaganda campaign to rally support for ratification. ...read more.

Middle

At the ratification conventions they appealed to peoples "pockets" concentrating on the trade benefits and financial prosperity it had promised to bring. The Federalists truly believed that the constitution that had been created was the best possible solution as the Articles of Confederation were failing. Federalist papers 2,3,4 and 5 state how vulnerable they are to foreign invasion and that with the ratification of the constitution that the threat will no longer be as formidable. Many Anti-Federalists argued that the "Fathers" who formed the new constitution were affluent individuals who had created a political structure that would confirm them in their wealth and position. Many of the Anti-Federalist papers concerned the matter of the founding fathers motivations [no.'s 40(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)]. They also claimed that due to the widespread difference in opinion over the constitution, that ratification would lead to civil war (no.7). They were disturbed that under the constitution there would be a standing army even at times of peace. The person in control of this army would have immense power and this could threaten peace (no.74). Another issue that concerned the Anti-Federalists was that there would be just 91 people, 26 senators and 65 members of the House of Representatives, representing the whole of America (no.'s 55,56,57,58). ...read more.

Conclusion

The results of the next five conventions were a lot closer than the earlier ones but thanks to skilful propaganda from the federalists voted in favour of ratification. Maryland, April 28, 1788 (63-11); South Carolina, May 23, 1788 (149-73); New Hampshire, June 21, 1788 (57-47); Virginia, June 25, 1788 (89-79); and New York, July 26, 1788 (30-27). These ratifications meant that the Constitution went into effect as over 9 states had ratified it. The lists of recommended amendments and the Federalists' promise to work for amendments (particularly a Bill of Rights) were carried out, with the Bill of Rights being added to the Constitution in 1789-1791. The first Congress's proposing of amendments in 1789 persuaded the states who were yet to ratify to elect conventions that ratified the Constitution - North Carolina, November 21, 1789 (195-77) and Rhode Island, May 29, 1790 (34-32). In April 1789 the New constitution finally came into operation following the election of George Washington as President. The struggle for ratification of the Constitution was both a direct, forthright contest for votes and a complex, impressive argument about politics and constitutional theory. It was the first time that the people of a nation freely determined their form of government. This, and because of the strengths of the Anti-Federalist's arguments is why the Constitution took so long to ratify. ?? ?? ?? ?? Created by Ricardo Price ...read more.

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