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Ratification of the Constitution

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Ratification of the Constitution

Following the Constitutional Convention, a great debate took place throughout America over the Constitution that had been proposed. This is the story of the debate over the ratification of the United States Constitution.

This exhibit provides a guide to understanding a) the records of the debates of the official delegates that took place essentially between December 1787 and July 1788 and b) the public advocates who participated in the conversation over whether or not to ratify the newly proposed Constitution for the federal republic of the United States that took place mainly between October 1787 and July 1788. Tips on navigating the various sections and Gordon Lloyd’s introduction can be found here.

OUT-OF-DOORS DEBATE

The Federalist Papers

Introduction by Gordon Lloyd

Design of the Federalist Papers by Gordon Lloyd

The Essential Federalist Papers by Gordon Lloyd

The Complete Federalist Papers

The Antifederalists

Introduction by Gordon Lloyd

The Legacy of the Antifederalists by Gordon Lloyd

The Essential Antifederalists by Gordon Lloyd

The Complete Antifederalists

IN-DOORS DEBATE

Massachusetts (Winter 1788)

Introduction by Gordon Lloyd

Day-by-Day Summary by Gordon Lloyd

Massachusetts Ratifying Convention
Collected by Jonathan Elliot

Massachusetts Amendment Proposals

Virginia (Summer 1788)

Introduction by Gordon Lloyd

Day-by-Day Summary by Gordon Lloyd

Virginia Ratifying Convention
Collected by Jonathan Elliot

Virginia Amendment and Bill of Rights Proposals

New York (Summer 1788)

Introduction by Gordon Lloyd

Day-by-Day Summary by Gordon Lloyd

New York Ratifying Convention
Collected by Jonathan Elliot

New York Amendment and Bill of Rights Proposals

The Federal Pillars

The political arithmetic of ratification meant only nine out of thirteen states were needed to ratify the Constitution. Follow the progress towards this goal (and, eventually, unanimity) visually with these images of the “raising of the federal pillars.”

Original Sources Used on This Site:

The Debates in the Several State Conventions, on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, as Recommended by the General Convention at Philadelphia, in 1787

Collected by Jonathan Elliot

Pennsylvania and the Federal Constitution, 1787-1788
Edited by John Bach McMaster and Frederick D. Stone

The Geographical Distribution of the Vote of the Thirteen States on the Federal Constitution, 1787-8
by Orin Grant Libby

Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States
Selected, Arranged, and Indexed by Charles C. Tansill

Storing, Herbert J., editor. The Complete Anti-Federalist, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981.

Allen, W.B. and Gordon Lloyd, editors. The Essential Antifederalist, Lanham, Maryland: Rowland and Littlefield, 2001.

Carey, George W., editor. The Federalist, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001.