Why the Framers Could Suggest Ratification by Only Nine States

SigningconstituIn prior postings such as the one here, I have explained why it is wrong to claim that the commissioners (delegates) to the 1787 Constitutional Convention exceeded their power in recommending that the Articles of Confederation be replaced by a new instrument.

Another aspect of the same charge is that the Framers exceed their power by providing that the Constitution could come into effect upon ratification by only 9 states instead of the 13 the Articles required.

One quick answer is that ultimately the Constitution was ratified by all 13. The 13th state (Rhode Island) ratified on May 29, 1790, less than three years after the document was composed.

But there is a more formal, and perhaps better answer.  Here’s the background:

The Declaration of Independence explicitly presented Americans to the world as “one people”—not as 13 different peoples. It is true that this “one people” initially operated through 13 separate

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