The U.S. Constitution was ratified 224 years ago today.
The document that became the Constitution developed after three months of debate. It was signed on Sept. 17, 1787 by 38 of the 41 delegates present. But according to Article VII, it would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the 13 States.
In December, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia and Connecticut ratified it. But other States held out because they felt the document gave too much power to the Federal government. The other States agreed to ratify it only if amendments were added.
In February 1787, Massachusetts delegates agreed to ratify the Constitution once they received assurances Congress would take up amendments that would reserve undelegated powers to the States and protect the basic rights of freedom of speech, religion and the press. Maryland and South Carolina soon followed.
On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth State to ratify the Constitution, making it the law of the land.
In the 224 years since, subsequent Congressional acts and judicial decisions have almost made the document meaningless, as evidenced by the passage of the liberty-stealing USA Patriot Act and, more recently, the National Defense Authorization Act and President Barack Obama’s actions in picking and choosing what laws his Administration enforces and his issuance of executive orders that bypass Congress.