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of the United States
|Preamble and Articles|
|Amendments to the Constitution|
Unratified Amendments :
The drafting of the Constitution of the United States began on May 25, 1787, when the Constitutional Convention met for the first time with a quorum at the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to revise the Articles of Confederation. It ended on September 17, 1787, the day the Frame of Government drafted by the convention's delegates to replace the Articles was adopted and signed. The ratification process for the Constitution began that day, and ended when the final state, Rhode Island, ratified it on May 29, 1790.
In addition to key events during the Constitutional Convention and afterward while the Constitution was put before the states for their ratification, this timeline includes important events that occurred during the run-up to the convention and during the nation's transition from government under the Articles of Confederation to government under the Constitution. It concludes with the unique ratification vote of the Vermont Republic, which at the time was a sovereign state outside the Union. The time span covered is 5 years, 9 months, from March 25, 1785 to January 10, 1791.
The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was an agreement among the 13 states of the United States, formerly the Thirteen Colonies, that served as the nation's first frame of government. It was debated by the Second Continental Congress at Independence Hall in Philadelphia between July 1776 and November 1777, and finalized by the Congress on November 15, 1777. It came into force on March 1, 1781, after being ratified by all 13 colonial states. A guiding principle of the Articles was the establishment and preservation of the independence and sovereignty of the states. The Articles consciously established a weak central government, affording it only those powers the former colonies had recognized as belonging to king and parliament. The document provided clearly written rules for how the states' league of friendship, known as the Perpetual Union, would be organized.
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It superseded the Articles of Confederation, the nation's first constitution, in 1789. Originally comprising seven articles, it delineates the national frame and constraints of government. The Constitution's first three articles embody the doctrine of the separation of powers, whereby the federal government is divided into three branches: the legislative, consisting of the bicameral Congress ; the executive, consisting of the president and subordinate officers ; and the judicial, consisting of the Supreme Court and other federal courts. Article IV, Article V, and Article VI embody concepts of federalism, describing the rights and responsibilities of state governments, the states in relationship to the federal government, and the shared process of constitutional amendment. Article VII establishes the procedure subsequently used by the 13 states to ratify it. The Constitution of the United States is the oldest and longest-standing written and codified national constitution in force in the world today.
The Continental Congress was a series of legislative bodies, with some executive function, for the thirteen colonies of Great Britain in North America, and the newly declared United States before, during, and after the American Revolutionary War. The Continental Congress refers to both the First and Second Congresses of 1774–1781 which, at the time, also described the Congress of the Confederation of 1781–1789, which operated as the first national government until being replaced following ratification of the U.S. Constitution. The Continental Congress represented the 13 colonies and then the new United States from 1774 until 1789. The Congress met predominantly at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, though it was relocated temporarily on several occasions during the Revolutionary War and the fall of Philadelphia.
The Federalist Papers is a collection of 85 articles and essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay under the collective pseudonym "Publius" to promote the ratification of the Constitution of the United States. The collection was commonly known as The Federalist until the name The Federalist Papers emerged in the twentieth century.
George Mason was an American planter, politician, Founding Father, and delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, one of three delegates present who refused to sign the Constitution. His writings, including substantial portions of the Fairfax Resolves of 1774, the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776, and his Objections to this Constitution of Government (1787) opposing ratification, have exercised a significant influence on American political thought and events. The Virginia Declaration of Rights, which Mason principally authored, served as a basis for the United States Bill of Rights, of which he has been deemed the father.
Anti-Federalism was a late-18th-century political movement that opposed the creation of a stronger U.S. federal government and which later opposed the ratification of the 1787 Constitution. The previous constitution, called the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, gave state governments more authority. Led by Patrick Henry of Virginia, Anti-Federalists worried, among other things, that the position of president, then a novelty, might evolve into a monarchy. Though the Constitution was ratified and supplanted the Articles of Confederation, Anti-Federalist influence helped lead to the passage of the Bill of Rights.
Article Seven of the United States Constitution sets the number of state ratifications necessary for the Constitution to take effect and prescribes the method through which the states may ratify it. Under the terms of Article VII, constitutional ratification conventions were held in each of the thirteen states, with the ratification of nine states required for the Constitution to take effect. Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution, doing so on December 7, 1787. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution, ensuring that the Constitution would take effect. Rhode Island was the last state to ratify the Constitution under Article VII, doing so on May 29, 1790.
The United States Constitution has served as the supreme law of the United States since taking effect in 1789. The document was written at the 1787 Philadelphia Convention and was ratified through a series of state conventions held in 1787 and 1788. Since 1789, the Constitution has been amended twenty-seven times; particularly important amendments include the ten amendments of the United States Bill of Rights and the three Reconstruction Amendments.
Daniel Carroll was an American politician and plantation owner from Maryland and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He supported the American Revolution, served in the Confederation Congress, was a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 which penned the Constitution of the United States, and was a U.S. Representative in the First Congress. Carroll was one of five men to sign both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. He was one of the few Roman Catholics among the Founders.
Joseph Jones was an American lawyer and statesman from King George County, Virginia. He was an Anti-Federalist.
The Constitutional Convention took place in Philadelphia from May 25 to September 17, 1787. Although the convention was intended to revise the league of states and first system of government under the Articles of Confederation, the intention from the outset of many of its proponents, chief among them James Madison of Virginia and Alexander Hamilton of New York, was to create a new Frame of Government rather than fix the existing one. The delegates elected George Washington of Virginia, former commanding general of the Continental Army in the late American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and proponent of a stronger national government, to become President of the convention. The result of the convention was the creation of the Constitution of the United States, placing the Convention among the most significant events in American history.
A convention to propose amendments to the United States Constitution, also referred to as an Article V Convention or amendatory convention, is one of two methods authorized by Article Five of the United States Constitution whereby amendments to the United States Constitution may be proposed: two thirds of the State legislatures may call a convention to propose amendments, which become law only after ratification by three-fourths of the states. The Article V convention method has never been used; but 33 amendments have been proposed by the other method, a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress; and 27 of these have been ratified by three-fourths of the States. Although there has never been a federal constitutional convention since the original one, at the state level more than 230 constitutional conventions have assembled in the United States.
The Congress of the Confederation, or the Confederation Congress, formally referred to as the United States in Congress Assembled, was the governing body of the United States from March 1, 1781, until March 3, 1789, during the Confederation period. A unicameral body with legislative and executive function, it was composed of delegates appointed by the legislatures of the several states. Each state delegation had one vote. The Congress was created by the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union upon its ratification in 1781, formally replacing the Second Continental Congress.
In the United States, judicial review is the legal power of a court to determine if a statute, treaty, or administrative regulation contradicts or violates the provisions of existing law, a State Constitution, or ultimately the United States Constitution. While the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly define the power of judicial review, the authority for judicial review in the United States has been inferred from the structure, provisions, and history of the Constitution.
The Virginia Ratifying Convention was a convention of 168 delegates from Virginia who met in 1788 to ratify or reject the United States Constitution, which had been drafted at the Philadelphia Convention the previous year.
The United States Bill of Rights comprises the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. Proposed following the often bitter 1787–88 debate over the ratification of the Constitution and written to address the objections raised by Anti-Federalists, the Bill of Rights amendments add to the Constitution specific guarantees of personal freedoms and rights, clear limitations on the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and explicit declarations that all powers not specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved to the states or the people. The concepts codified in these amendments are built upon those in earlier documents, especially the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776), as well as the Northwest Ordinance (1787), the English Bill of Rights (1689), and Magna Carta (1215).
The Congressional Apportionment Amendment is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that addresses the number of seats in the House of Representatives. It was proposed by Congress on September 25, 1789, but was never ratified by the requisite number of state legislatures. As Congress did not set a time limit for its ratification, the Congressional Apportionment Amendment is still pending before the states. As of 2023, it is one of six unratified amendments.
The Country Party was a political party in Rhode Island in the Confederation and early Federal periods, from about March 1781 until the death in office of its leader, Governor Arthur Fenner, in October 1805. At its peak of influence, it controlled the Rhode Island General Assembly and dominated state politics from 1785 to 1790. A stridently Anti-Federalist party, it was instrumental in resisting ratification of the Constitution and was the organized vehicle for political expression of popular views that led to Rhode Island both disrupting consensus among states under the Articles of Confederation and being the last of the original 13 states to ratify the Constitution.
The Confederation period was the era of United States history in the 1780s after the American Revolution and prior to the ratification of the United States Constitution. In 1781, the United States ratified the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union and prevailed in the Battle of Yorktown, the last major land battle between British and American Continental forces in the American Revolutionary War. American independence was confirmed with the 1783 signing of the Treaty of Paris. The fledgling United States faced several challenges, many of which stemmed from the lack of a strong national government and unified political culture. The period ended in 1789 following the ratification of the United States Constitution, which established a new, more powerful, national government.
James Madison was an American statesman, diplomat, and Founding Father who served as the 4th president of the United States from 1809 to 1817. He is hailed as the "Father of the Constitution" for his pivotal role in drafting and promoting the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. Disillusioned by the weak national government established by the Articles of Confederation, he helped organize the Constitutional Convention, which produced a new constitution. Madison's Virginia Plan served as the basis for the Constitutional Convention's deliberations, and he was one of the most influential individuals at the convention. He became one of the leaders in the movement to ratify the Constitution, and he joined with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay in writing The Federalist Papers, a series of pro-ratification essays that was one of the most influential works of political science in American history.