Chesapeake Politics, 1781-1800

By Norman K. Risjord | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TEN
Ratification with or without Amendments

0N SEPTEMBER 17, 1787, members of the federal convention signed the final draft of the Constitution and sent it to the states for approval. The document itself specified that the states were to elect special conventions to consider it, and it would go into effect when nine states ratified. Several delegates had left Philadelphia in the course of the summer, distressed with the nationalist trend of the convention. At the last minute, three other delegate's -- George Mason and Edmund Randolph of Virginia and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts -- refused to lend their signatures because the document lacked a bill of rights. Their action assured the Constitution a stormy reception in the Chesapeake states.

Nearly everyone assumed that the reaction to the Constitution would follow partisan lines. In all three states parties had been forged out of the clash of interests on such issues as debts and taxation, paper money, Loyalist property, and judicial reform. The Constitution affected every one of these in one way or another. By granting Congress power to tax, it reduced the sources of state revenue and thus the potential for state action. This, in turn,

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