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RESULTS OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
After a long summer of work, the Convention asked Gouverneur Morris to write the final draft of the Constitution. This he did, and on September 17, 1787, the document was ready for the members of the Convention to sign. Only 39 of the 55 members signed it. Some were absent and others refused to sign. Then there remained only one final step to take which was to send copies of the Constitution to each of the 13 States for ratification. (See Figure 14.)
We can see clearly that the making of our Constitution by the delegates from 12 States was a very difficult task. We know that it called for great wisdom to write a new plan of government which would have a chance of being accepted by the States. We know that, just as we would borrow ideas from many places, if we were to write a plan for any new government group, so the Convention group borrowed a bit here and a bit there to weave into a new pattern of government for our Nation. The adoption of the Constitution created a new Republic of 13 States, all joined in one Nation to form the United States of America. The Constitution is to this day the highest law of our land.
THINGS TO DO
Can you select the word or phrase that will make each of the
following statements read correctly?
1. The Articles of Confederation were
(1) our present Constitution.
2. One of the questions before the delegates to the Constitutional Convention was
(1) how to weaken the central government.
both large and small States in the new
government. (3) how to spend the money of the States. 3. The final draft of the National Constitution was signed by—
(1) all members of the Convention.
(3) 39 members of the Convention. 4. After the War of Independence, the 13 States were
(3) deeply in debt. 5. After the War of Independence, the 13 States needed
(1) a weaker central government.
(3) no central government. 6. The purpose of the Constitutional Convention was
(1) to revise the existing plan of government.
(3) to elect a president. 7. Our National Constitution was written and signed in the city of
(1) New York.
(3) Philadelphia. 8. The only State not represented in the National Convention at Philadelphia was
Questions to discuss in your study group:
1. Why was it so difficult for the delegates at Philadelphia to decide on a plan of government which the 13 States would accept?
2. Who were some of the leaders at the Philadelphia Convention
3. What were some of the reasons which caused the 13 States to want to join and form a union
4. From what sources did the Fathers of the Constitution borrow ideas to use in writing the Constitution for the new Nation ?
Some more words which the student should understand:
advocate—a person who urges some special course of action.
Articles of Confederation—written agreements for cooperation
between the 13 independent State government groups after the
Declaration of Independence. compromise—make a bargain in which each person or group
gives up something in order to make agreement possible. Confederation—the group of 13 original States under the Articles
of Confederation. convention-a meeting of delegates. Critical Period—the time when difficult decisions had to be made. deputies—representatives. disputes-quarrels. distrust-feel no trust or confidence in. distrustful—having no trust or confidence in what is going on. draft-wording, choice of words to express ideas already agreed on. executive-an officer or group of officers whose duty is to put
something into effect, as a law. executive—having authority and power to put things into effect. experienced-having remembered and profited from trial and
practice. House of Representatives—a group of elected representatives
chosen by the people to make laws, particularly the “lower
house” of our National Congress. ideas—thoughts or opinions. influence-power of a person to sway the opinions or actions of
others. invasion-an unfriendly entering or attack. judiciary—a system of courts of justice. legislative—having power or authority to make laws. model—something to be copied. opinions—what a person thinks, without knowing it to be true. preserve-keep safe or in good condition.
protested—“kicked” against or objected to (usually against
something which injured the objector). ratification—adoption, acceptance, favorable vote. representation-choice of a few persons to act for a larger group. revise—improve by changing. secure-make a thing safe. Senate—a group of lawmakers, particularly the “upper house" of
our National Congress. sources places from which anything comes or is gotten. supreme-highest, most important, having most authority. Union—things joined to make a single whole, like the States in
our Nation. vigorous-full of life. wealthy-rich. withdraw—to get away, or to take away.
Establishing the Constitution Which Gave a Central
Government to Our Nation
"Let our object be our country, our whole country, and nothing but our country. And, by the blessing of God, may that country itself become a vast and splendid monument, not of oppression and terror, but of wisdom, of peace, and of liberty, upon which the world may gaze with admiration forever!”
* In the last chapter we learned how the 13 States passed through a dangerous time under weak Articles of Confederation. We learned that some of the leaders of the States saw the need for a stronger central government. We learned how 55 leaders were sent to Philadelphia to strengthen the Articles of Confederation, and how their work resulted in the Constitution of the United States. In this chapter we shall learn how the Constitution was adopted by the people of the States and what kind of a central government it set up for the new Nation,
HOW THE NEW CONSTITUTION WAS RATIFIED (ACCEPTED AND MADE
When the delegates to the Constitutional Convention finished their work by voting in favor of the new Constitution, they had only taken the first step in making a new Nation. They themselves had no power to force the 13 States to accept their work. One State-Rhode Island had not been represented at all in the Convention, and another-New York, one of the largest and most powerfulhad only agreed very unwillingly to let one man, Alexander Hamilton, attend; many New York leaders were against having a central government. So the delegates provided in the Seventh Article of the New Constitution that the adop