Which U.S. state was the ninth and last necessary state to ratify the Constitution?

And the answer: New Hampshire.    
Photo credit: history.com.

New Hampshire was the ninth and last necessary state of the thirteen original colonies to officially adopt the U.S. Constitution. Under Article VII of the drafted document, only nine states were required to ratify the Constitution as the law of the land. Shortly after New Hampshire, Virginia and New York joined to ratify the Constitution.

By 1786, it was clear to the young United States government that the Articles of Confederation would not cut it. Without an organized central authority, the government did not possess the power to tax citizens, regulate commerce, or even enforce congress’ rulings. Thus, in 1787, congress endorsed a plan to draft a new constitution—one which would be powerful enough to guide a growing nation while protecting individual rights.

On May 25, 1787, representatives from 12 states convened in Philadelphia to begin redrafts. Eventually, as many as 74 delegates were named; 55 attended and 39 signed. It didn’t take long for delegates to recognize the need to not just edit the Articles of Confederation, but to draft an entirely new document altogether.

By the time Rhode Island had ratified the document in 1790, two parties had already begun to develop in response to the new Constitution: one in opposition, the Anti-Federalists, and one in support, the Federalists. Under the name “Publius,” Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote a series of commentaries—now known as The Federalist Papers—to encourage New York to support the proposed Constitution. Written during the struggle for ratification, these commentaries have since come to be frequently cited by the Supreme Court as a contemporary interpretation of its meaning. Ultimately, the dispute over additional powers for the central government was long-lasting, and in some states, ratification was effected only after a bitter struggle in the state convention itself.

Learn more about the process of the Constitution’s ratification here.


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