US Constitution *Signing and Ratification

Prepare to be tested on how much you know about the Constitution! How many states had to ratify the Constitution in order for it to become law? That question sounds easier than it actually is, and most people don’t know the answer.


To make an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, two-thirds of both houses of Congress must approve it. Once it’s approved by both houses, the amendment goes on a ballot where three-fourths of states’ legislatures must approve it for it to be ratified and become law.

The Constitutional ConventionIn the year in 1787, the he founding fathers gathered at a Constitutional Convention in the state of Philadelphia.

At this meeting, the delegates created a plan for a central government with three branches:

  1. Executive
  2. Legislative
  3. Judicial

The delegates debated these plans until they agreed on a final version of what became known as the U.S. Constitution.

The Great Compromise

In 1787, just three months before signing the United States Constitution, Founding Father James Madison proposed what came to be known as The Great Compromise.

Despite being a Virginian who opposed strong national government, Madison was one of a handful of delegates from smaller states who were determined not to allow larger states like New York and Virginia to dictate how our new nation would be governed.

Madison proposed that representation in both houses of Congress would be based on population; more people meant more representatives.

James Madison

The Three-Fifths Compromise

It took 13 states ratifying the constitution for it to become law. One of those states was New Jersey, which is an interesting choice because it did not ratify until November 26th, 1789, when there were already 12 other states that had ratified it.

The reason for this is because New Jersey wanted to make sure that their slaves would count as full people before they agreed with joining in on the new United States of America Constitution.

The Ratification Process

The Constitution was ratified after nine months and twenty-three days. The document was signed on September 17, 1787 by 39 of the original 55 delegates who attended the convention in Philadelphia.

However, before it could become law, it still needed to be ratified by at least nine of thirteen states (which happened on June 21, 1788). After that point, a total of 72 out of 76 meetings were necessary to ratify it.

George Washington Founding Father and America President

George Washington Founding Father and America President

The Signing of the Constitution

On September 17, 1787, a quorum of states had ratified the Constitution. On June 21, 1788 it was signed by George Washington as president of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

The federal government was instituted soon after on March 4, 1789 with Washington as President and John Adams as Vice President.