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066 When was the Constitution written?

66. When was the Constitution written?

Have you ever worked hard to write a long report or essay and then waited anxiously (or with a lot of worry and stress) to find out whether the teacher would like it? The men who wrote the Constitution (or the country’s most important legal document) must have felt the same way. They worked very hard between May and September of 1787. When they finished, they had a long document that they were very proud of (or that they felt very pleased with), but the Constitution hadn’t yet become a law. First, it would have to be ratified (or approved) by the states.

Only nine of the states needed to ratify the Constitution, but getting all 13 states to ratify it would be important for helping the country to feel unified (or as one whole country made up of many parts). At first, it didn’t look like enough states would ratify it. There was bitter (or very strong and negative) disagreement about the Constitution.

One group of people who were called “Federalists” thought that there were many problems with the Articles of Confederation, which was the legal document that the 13 states had been following. The Federalists believed that adopting the Constitution was the only way to fix the problems that the country was having. The Federalists thought that only the Constitution would be able to help the new country keep its independence (or freedom) from Britain.

Another large group of people known as the “Antifederalists” thought that the Constitution would destroy (or ruin) everything good about America. They thought that the Constitution would centralize the government too much (or make the national government too powerful, with little or no power for the states).

The Federalists and Antifederalists argued with each other for a long time, but eventually (or after a long time) the Constitution was ratified. The first five states ratified it very quickly, between December 1787 and January 1788. The other states took much longer, and the state of Rhode Island didn’t ratify the Constitution until May of 1790. But when all 13 states had finally ratified the Constitution, the whole United States was behind (or supported) the new government.


anxiously – with a lot of worry and stress
* The students are waiting anxiously to receive their test results.

proud – very pleased with; very happy that one has done something, or very happy with how well one has done something
* We're very proud of Alina for graduating college with honors.

to ratify – to approve and make into a law
* How long does it take for a Constitutional amendment to be ratified?

unified – as one group; together
* A good way to reduce crime in our neighborhood is to form a group of unified neighbors to watch over each other’s homes.

bitter – having very negative and unhappy feelings
* She had such a bitter experience in that store that she'll never shop there again.

to destroy – to ruin something; to change something so that it can never be used again or so that it no longer functions
* Water came through the roof and destroyed the carpet.

to centralize – to make the national government more powerful than smaller pieces of government within the country; to have many offices and services in a central location instead of spreading them out over a larger area
* Would it be better to centralize our operations and have everyone work in one place, or should we continue to have offices in each state?

eventually – after a long period of time
* At first they didn't like our idea, but eventually, they agreed that we were right.

to be behind (something) – to support something; to think that something is a good idea and do and say things so that it will succeed
* This plan won't work if nobody is behind it.