To the Congress and the People of the States

The United States Constitution

Library of Congress

To the Congress and the People of the States

"You will see the Constitution we have proposed in the Papers. The Forming of it so as to accommodate all the different Interests and Views was a difficult Task; and perhaps after all it may not be received with the same unanimity in the different States that the Convention has given the Example of in delivering it out for their Consideration. We have however done our best, and it must take its chance."

- Benjamin Franklin to his sister, Jane Mecom

William Jackson, the secretary to the Federal Convention, arrived in New York with the new Constitution, a letter of transmittal and a delicately worded resolution. It stated the Constitution was to be "laid before" the Confederation Congress and that it was the "Opinion of [the] Convention that it should afterward be submitted" to conventions chosen by the people of each state "for their Assent and Ratification". Jackson read the Constitution to the Congress.

Surviving documentation does not reveal the immediate reaction of Congress to the Constitution. From the debates, however, it is clear that the opponents did not attempt to block the Constitution in Congress; rather they planned to present their views in the form of the ratification process.

On September 28, Congress ended its debate with a compromise. It resolved unanimously that the Constitution, the letter of transmittal and the resolution from the Convention should be sent to the states with a suggestion rather than an order that the several states should call ratification conventions. None of the concerns, objections, or suggestions of the opponents was included.

Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution on December 7, 1787. The ninth state, New Hampshire, ratified on June 21, 1788, and the process of turning a paper government into a working government could begin.

HOME The 225th Anniversary of the Constitution Convention

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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