On September 17, 1787, our founders signed the Constitution of the United States.
Forty men signed the Constitution.
Seventy-four delegates were appointed to the constitutional convention, of which 55 actually attended sessions. Rhode Island was the only state that refused to send delegates. Dominated by men wedded to paper currency, low taxes, and popular government, Rhode Island's leaders refused to participate in what they saw as a conspiracy to overthrow the established government. Other Americans also had their suspicions. Patrick Henry, of the flowing red Glasgow cloak and the magnetic oratory, refused to attend, declaring he "smelt a rat." He suspected, correctly, that Madison had in mind the creation of a powerful central government and the subversion of the authority of the state legislatures. Henry along with many other political leaders believed that the state governments offered the chief protection for personal liberties. He was determined not to lend a hand to any proceeding that seemed to pose a threat to that protection.
The requirement of ratification by nine states, set by Article Seven of the Constitution, was met when New Hampshire voted to ratify, on June 21, 1788.
Rhode Island was the last state to ratify the constitution on May 29, 1790.
The Constitution has been amended 27 times since 1789. In 1789, James Madison proposed twelve amendments to the First Congress. Congress approved these amendments as a block in September 1789 and eleven states had ratified ten of them by the end of 1791. These ten amendments are known collectively as the United States Bill of Rights.
We should all be proud that on this Constitution Day, we are still free.
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