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Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures such alterations and provisions therein as shall, when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the States, render the federal constitution adequate to the exigencies of the government and the preservation of the Union."
§ 43. In consequence of these proceedings, delegates to the convention were appointed from all the States except Rhode Island, and the convention met at the State-House in Philadelphia, on the 14th day (the second Monday) of May, 1787, the time designated; but a majority of the States not being represented, the members present adjourned from day to day until Friday, May 25. Upon, organizing, George Washington, who was a delegate from Virginia, was unanimously elected to preside over their deliberations. Among the delegates were many of the most eminent men of the States.
§ 44. It will be seen from the proceedings mentioned above, that the object of calling the convention was to revise the Articles of Confederation. So weak and defective, however, was the old form of government, that a majority of the delegates determined to form an entirely
§ 45. After much discussion, the present Constitution was finally adopted, as the result of their labours, on the 17th of September, 1787, and was signed by the members of the convention. There were great difficulties in its formation, arising out of jealousies among the States, and the difference in their extent, wealth, population, habits, religion, education, and political views: nothing but a wise and patriotic spirit of mutual concession and of moderation could have overcome such obstacles.
§ 46. The convention directed the new Constitution to be
laid before Congress, and proposed that it should afterward be submitted to a convention of delegates chosen in each State by the people thereof, under a recommendation of its legislature, for their assent and ratification; also, that as soon as nine States had thus ratified it, Congress should take measures for the election of a President, and fix the time and place for commencing proceedings under it. The convention also transmitted to Congress the resolutions and letters which we have appended to the Constitution. According to this recommendation, Congress, on the 28th of September, 1787, transmitted the plan of the Constitution and the letter of the convention, to the several legislatures of the States, in order to be submitted to a convention of delegates chosen in each State by the people thereof.
§ 47. Conventions assembled in the different States in 1787 and 1788, and the new system was discussed with great learning and zeal amid many conflicting opinions; but was at last adopted, though not without much oppo sition.
§ 48. On the 17th of September, 1788, Congress, having received ratifications of the Constitution from the conventions of all the States, except North Carolina and Rhode Island, resolved that the first Wednesday in January, 1789, should be the day for appointing electors in the several States which may have ratified the Constitution before that day; that the first Wednesday of the following February should be the day for the electors to assemble and vote for a President; and that the first Wednesday in the following March should be the time for commencing operations under the Constitution at New York, then the seat of government.
§ 49. Accordingly, elections were held in the several
States for electors; and the electors thus appointed met and voted for President and Vice-President. There were sixty-nine electoral votes cast, of which George Washington received the whole number, and was therefore unanimously elected President, and John Adams received thirty-four, the next greatest number of votes, and was therefore elected Vice-President.
§ 50. The States having also elected their senators and representatives, the first constitutional Congress, composed of representatives from the eleven States, which had then ratified the Constitution, assembled on Wednesday, the 4th day of March, 1789, and on that day the new Constitution of the United States went into legal operation, and proceedings were commenced under it. A quorum of members, however, did not appear until April 1, and Congress then entered upon the transaction of business
§ 51. On the 6th of April, the electoral votes were counted in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives by the President of the Senate, elected for that purpose, and the result appeared as above stated.
On Thursday, April 30, George Washington took the oath required by the Constitution, which was administered to him by the Chancellor of the State of New York, and delivered his inaugural address. John Adams entered upon his duties as President of the Senate, on Tuesday, April 21.
§ 52. The ratification of North Carolina was not received by Congress until January, 1790, and that of Rhode Island, until June of the same year. In the mean time, those States had been regarded, in many respecte, as foreign States.
§ 53. The following are the dates of the ratifica
tion of the Constitution by each of the original thirteen States:
(1.) Delaware, December 7, 1787. (2.) Pennsylvania, December 12, 1787. (3.) New Jersey, December 18, 1787. (4.) Georgia, January 2, 1788. (5.) Connecticut, January 9, 1788. (6.) Massachusetts, February 6, 1788. (7.) Maryland, April, 28, 1788. (8.) South Carolina, May 23, 1788. (9.) New Hampshire, June 21, 1788. (10.) Virginia, June 26, 1788. (11.) New York, July 26, 1788.
(12.) North Carolina, November 21, 1789. (13.) Rhode Island, May 29, 1790.