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The Making of the Constitution


Part 5: The New National Government

On September 17, 1787, the delegates agreed on the Constitution, and a majority of them signed it. Now, they had to sell it to the states. The delegates had agreed that 9 of the 13 states would have to ratify, or approve, the Constitution for it to take effect. How would the states ratify? The people of each state would vote for people who would attend a ratification convention. These people were similar to the electors who voted for President.

To make sure that the Constitution was passed, people known as Federalists (because of their support of a federal government) spoke out in favor of the Constitution. Three Federalists in particular played a leading role. Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison took turns writing letters to New York newspapers describing the good points of the Constitution and urging the people of New York to approve it. Other Federalists in other states spoke out as well.

Largely through the efforts of the Federalists, the Constitution went into effect on June 21, 1788, with the ratification of the necessary ninth state, New Hampshire.

The people who opposed the Constitution became known as Anti-Federalists because they were opposed to such a strong federal government. They wanted to know what kind of rights the government would protect. Out of this debate came the Bill of Rights.

Next page > The Bill of Rights > Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Graphics courtesy of ArtToday


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