Precedents

June 21, 1788


By a vote of 57 to 47, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution the minimum necessary for the document to take effect.

• The Constitutional Convention, meeting in Philadelphia, had produced the charter on Sept. 17, 1787, after four months of debate behind closed doors and drawn curtains. Founding father John Adams described those sessions as the “greatest single effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen.”

• Opponents of the Constitution were outmaneuvered by promises of amendments to the document. The world’s oldest written constitution still in use today has been altered 18 times, including the package of 10 amendments known as the Bill of Rights, which were ratified as a group in 1791.

• It is displayed in an encasement made of pure titanium, seen above, in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

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