June 21, 1788: The U.S. Constitution: Ratification and Its Impact


On June 21, 1788, a pivotal event occurred in American history: New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the United States Constitution. This milestone marked the official adoption of the Constitution, setting the stage for the new government to begin operating.

Before the Constitution, the Articles of Confederation governed the young nation. However, these Articles had significant flaws, including a lack of central authority over foreign and domestic commerce. Recognizing the need for a stronger framework, the Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia on May 25, 1787.

Over three months of intense debate, the delegates crafted a new constitution that established a robust federal government with a system of checks and balances. On September 17, 1787, 38 of the 41 delegates present signed the document. According to Article VII, the Constitution would become binding once ratified by nine of the 13 states.

Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut quickly ratified the Constitution. However, Massachusetts and other states expressed concerns. They wanted assurances that amendments protecting basic political rights—such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press—would be proposed immediately. In February 1788, a compromise was reached, leading to narrow ratification in Massachusetts, followed by Maryland and South Carolina.

On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the critical ninth state to ratify the Constitution. With this milestone, the document became the organic law of the land. The agreed-upon start date for the new government was March 4, 1789.

Virginia ratified the Constitution in June, followed by New York in July. On September 25, 1789, the first Congress adopted 12 amendments—the Bill of Rights—and sent them to the states for ratification. Ten of these amendments were ratified in 1791. North Carolina joined in November 1789, and Rhode Island, initially resistant, finally ratified the Constitution in May 1790.

Today, the U.S. Constitution remains the oldest written constitution in operation worldwide. Its enduring principles continue to shape American democracy, ensuring a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Remember this historic day when New Hampshire played a crucial role in shaping the nation we know today. 🇺🇸

By History.com Editors & Microsoft Bing Copilot 

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