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The Constitution of the United States

After the American Revolution the states were functioning under the Articles of Confederation. The Articles provided very little guidance to the states. In September of 1786 there was a meeting in Annapolis, Maryland. Representatives from New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, and Pennsylvania attended this "Annapolis Convention" to see what they could do about trade problems among the states. As time passed it became clear that changes to this system had to be made. They planned the meeting that took place almost a year later.

A convention of delegates from all the states except Rhode Island met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in May of 1787. George Washington was chosen president of the convention. By the end of the month it was decided that the best solution to the young country's problems was to set aside the Articles of Confederation and write a new constitution. This meeting later became known as the Constitutional Convention.

The men had a big task ahead of them. A big problem the men had to solve was to decide how the legislature would be structured. Some wanted representation to be based on population (Virginia Plan). Others wanted equal representation (New Jersey Plan). Roger Sherman from Connecticut proposed a legislature with two parts. States would have equal representation in the Senate. The population of states would determine representation in the House.

Three months later and after a lot of debate this "Great Compromise" was agreed upon. On September 17, 1787, the Constitution of the United States was finally accepted by the delegates. But their work was not done.

The Founding Fathers now had to get all the states to agree that this was a good document and that they should vote in favor of it. This was the first great political question that faced Americans. Nine states had to vote for the Constitution for it to be accepted. On December 3, 1787, Delaware was the first state to vote in favor of (ratify) it. New Hampshire became the ninth state to accept the Constitution on June 21, 1788, ending government under the Articles of Confederation. It was not until May 29, 1790 that the last state, Rhode Island, finally accepted the Constitution.

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