The Article VII framework policy has worked. Most of the debates on state ratification revolved around the delegates` recognition that their state could not afford to be one of the states initially excluded for the reasons set out in Federalists Nos. 3-8 if the Constitution was ratified by at least nine states. Such concerns influenced the ratification of conventions in all small states, Georgia, which required national defense against Native American tribes, and the ratification of conventions in all states, which took place after the momentum had clearly shifted to constitutional ratification (Virginia, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Rhode Island). Decisive votes in favour of ratifying all these conventions were cast by the delegates who, after expressing serious reservations about the Constitution, concluded that the best way to amend the Constitution was to work from within, or that it was not a viable option to remain outside the Constitution for some time. The controversies over Article VII that arose during the ratification process concerned the content of the prescribed ratification process, not what the text actually prescribed. Antifederalists and federalists agreed on the meaning of “ratification”, “new” and “states”. Vermont did not count much as a state of the vermonters` lot, who declared independence in 1777 but were not represented in the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation. However, the wording of Article VII does not specify which means of ratification are to be used. This question was addressed by a resolution of the Constitutional Convention of September 17, 1787, which accompanied the Constitution when it was transmitted to the Confederate Congress in New York. (It was also on this day – which we celebrate as Constitution Day – that the Constitution was signed.) The resolution called for the holding of special ratification conventions in each State. It would be these conventions – not the legislators of the States – that would decide on the question of ratification. It was also a conscious way of embodying the “we the people” in the preamble to the Constitution.
The Constitution would be embodied by the directly elected representatives of the people of the States elected for that purpose; it would not be, like the articles of Confederation, the creation of state governments. The majority of Americans are very passionate about what they believe in matters of faith and politics, and this has been the case from the beginning. Just as we have Democrats and Republicans, in 1787 there were federalists and non-federalists. By June 1788, eight states had ratified the constitution and one of them had rejected it. Another was needed to meet the requirements of Article VII and establish the new government. New Hampshire, where the state convention had met earlier this year but adjourned to see what other states would do, then became the center of attention. Initially assumed that there was an anti-federalist majority, the vote in neighboring Massachusetts and the promise of amendments were enough to secure a ten-vote majority for ratification. One would think that we would have lost. Most essays face the challenge of describing interpretative debates on provisions of enduring importance such as the First Amendment or Article II in 1,000 words.
Our challenge, one might think, is to find 1000 words to write on a provision that had its main effect at the time of the Constitution and that did not give rise to interpretative controversy even at that time. The text of article VII stipulates that the Constitution becomes the official law of states that ratify the document when nine states have ratified the document. When New Hampshire ratified as the ninth state on June 21, 1788, the Constitution became good law. End of story. But in fact, there is a surprisingly high number of things to say about Article VII. The goal of nine was to get thirteen. Article VII may explain that the U.S. Constitution was the law of the land when it was ratified by nine states, but the drafters and the text clearly anticipated a unification of the thirteen states. Nine encouraged early ratification while preventing recalcitrant States from making favourable concessions. The policies behind Article VII underscore the importance of thinking about how constitutions are supposed to work, rather than just worrying about what words mean at any given time. .