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1.5 Ratification of the U.S. Constitution

6 min readfebruary 4, 2023

Annika Tekumulla

Annika Tekumulla

Riya Patel

Riya Patel


AP US Government 👩🏾‍⚖️

240 resources
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Introduction

The ratification of the US Constitution was the process by which the newly written Constitution was approved by the individual states and became the supreme law of the land. The Constitution was written in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and was then submitted to the states for ratification.
The ratification process was not without controversy, with strong opposition from those who felt that the new Constitution gave too much power to the central government and took away rights from the states and individuals. This opposition was addressed through a series of debates and compromises, known as the Federalist Papers, which were written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay to explain and support the proposed Constitution.
In the end, the Constitution was ratified by nine of the thirteen states, with the other four states ratifying it later. The ratification process was completed on June 21, 1788, when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution. This made the Constitution the supreme law of the land and established the framework for the US government that still exists today.
There were four main compromises that were necessary in order to adopt and ratify the Constitution. These compromises were the Great (Connecticut) Compromise, Electoral College, Three-Fifths Compromise, and Compromise on the importation of slaves

Key Questions

  • Why was the US Constitution written and why was its ratification necessary?
  • How was the ratification of the Constitution received by the American people and what were the debates over its ratification?
  • What role did the Federalist Papers play in the ratification process?
  • How did the Anti-Federalist movement view the Constitution and what were their concerns about its ratification?
  • How were the compromises reached in the Constitution, such as the Three-Fifths Compromise and the Compromise on the Importation of Slaves, received during the ratification process?
  • What was the outcome of the ratification process and how many states ratified the Constitution?
  • How did the US Constitution impact the balance of power between the federal government and the states, and how has this balance evolved over time?
  • What was the significance of the Bill of Rights in the ratification process and why was it added to the Constitution?
  • How has the US Constitution been amended over time and what was the significance of these amendments in the evolution of American democracy?

Great (Connecticut) Compromise

The Great Compromise, also known as the Connecticut Compromise, was a key agreement reached during the drafting of the US Constitution at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The compromise resolved a major conflict between the small states and the large states over representation in the legislative branch of the federal government.
The small states wanted equal representation for each state in the legislative branch, regardless of population size. The large states, on the other hand, wanted representation to be based on population, giving them a greater voice in the federal government.
The Great Compromise resolved the conflict by establishing a two-chamber legislature, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House of Representatives would be based on population, with each state getting a number of seats proportional to its population. The Senate, on the other hand, would have equal representation for each state, with two senators per state.
This compromise helped to balance the interests of both the small and large states and was crucial in ensuring the eventual ratification of the US Constitution. It established a federal system of government that gives both the states and the people representation in the legislative branch and has been the basis for the American system of government for over 200 years.

Electoral College 

The Electoral College is a system used in the United States to elect the President and Vice President of the country. The Electoral College was established by the US Constitution and has been used in every presidential election since the first election in 1788.
Under the Electoral College system, each state is assigned a certain number of electors based on its population. A total of 538 electors make up the Electoral College, with the number of electors for each state equal to the number of its Representatives in Congress (House of Representatives and Senate) combined.
On Election Day, citizens in each state vote for President and Vice President, but it is actually the electors who cast the official votes for these offices. The candidate who wins the most votes in a state (with the exception of Maine and Nebraska) wins all of that state's electoral votes. The candidate who wins a majority of the electoral votes (at least 270 out of 538) becomes the President.
The Electoral College has been the subject of criticism and controversy over the years, with some people arguing that it is an outdated system that can result in a candidate winning the presidency even if they lose the popular vote. Nevertheless, the Electoral College remains in place and continues to be used in US presidential elections.

Three-Fifths Compromise  

The Three-Fifths Compromise was a political agreement reached during the drafting of the US Constitution at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The compromise was reached between the northern states and the southern states and concerned the representation of slaves in the US Congress.
At the time, the southern states wanted slaves to be counted as full persons for purposes of determining the number of seats each state would have in the US House of Representatives and, therefore, the number of electoral votes each state would have in presidential elections. The northern states, on the other hand, wanted slaves to be excluded from the population count and not to be considered for purposes of representation.
The Three-Fifths Compromise resolved the conflict by counting each slave as three-fifths of a person for purposes of determining representation in the US Congress. This meant that the southern states would have more seats in the House of Representatives and more electoral votes in presidential elections than they would have had if slaves were excluded from the population count, but fewer seats and electoral votes than they would have had if slaves were counted as full persons.
The Three-Fifths Compromise was a compromise in name only, as it effectively allowed the southern states to increase their political power by counting slaves as part of their population, while denying those same slaves any political rights or representation. The compromise was one of several factors that contributed to the tensions between the northern and southern states that eventually led to the American Civil War.

Compromise on the Importation of Slaves 

The Compromise on the Importation of Slaves, also known as the Slave Trade Compromise, was another agreement reached during the drafting of the US Constitution at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The compromise addressed the issue of the transatlantic slave trade and the future of slavery in the United States.
At the time, the southern states were heavily dependent on slavery and wanted to ensure that they could continue to import slaves from Africa to work on their plantations. The northern states, on the other hand, were moving away from slavery and wanted to ban or limit the importation of slaves.
The Compromise on the Importation of Slaves resolved the conflict by allowing the transatlantic slave trade to continue for 20 years. After that time, Congress would have the power to regulate the slave trade, but not to ban it outright. This meant that the southern states could continue to import slaves for the next two decades, but would have to rely on the domestic slave market after that.
The Compromise on the Importation of Slaves was a critical moment in the history of slavery in the United States and had lasting implications. The continued importation of slaves for the next 20 years helped to solidify the institution of slavery and increase the number of enslaved people in the United States, setting the stage for the eventual conflict over slavery that would lead to the American Civil War.
🎥 Watch: AP GOPO - Constitutional Convention

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