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Article 7 of the Constitution

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Article 7 of the constitution describes the ratification process for the constitution

Article 7

The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.

Summary of Article 7

Article VII of the United States Constitution is the final Article and is short and sweet. This simple sentence established the threshold for the Constitution’s adoption and united the thirteen states under one government.

It addressed a concern that our Founding Fathers had.

The aim of the United States Constitution was that it would stand as the standard for American justice and liberty forever, but there was one minor issue.

Would enough states agree to abide by this Constitution and decide to make it the supreme law of the land?

Article 7 was created to make it so that only nine out of the original thirteen states’ ratification of the Constitution was necessary to make the document valid for the entire United States.

Historical Context of Article 7

At the time, the Articles of Confederation served as the governing document of the United States but had proved to be ineffective and insufficient for addressing the problems facing the new nation.

Under the Articles of Confederation, the states retained considerable power, but the central government had limited authority and could not raise taxes or regulate commerce effectively. This led to financial instability and trade disputes among the states, which threatened the unity and stability of the country.

The failure of the Articles of Confederation highlighted the need for a stronger central government that could address the challenges facing the young nation.

The delegates to the Constitutional Convention recognized the need for a strong central government that could provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for the American people. 

Article 7 was a critical component of the Constitution because it provided for the ratification of the new governing document. Without this article, the Constitution might not have been ratified, and the United States might have remained a loose confederation of states, unable to address the challenges and opportunities of the modern world.

Article 7 Gives Freedom to Decide

The inclusion of Article 7 in the Constitution showed how our forefathers envisioned a libertarian nation. 

Independence Hall Assembly Room
Assembly Room at Independence Hall in Philadelphia where the United States Constitution was signed.

When 55 state delegates met in secret at the Constitutional Convention on the seventeenth day of September 1787, and 39 signed off on the final draft of the United States Constitution, they could have forced it upon the American populace as legally binding.

However, the founding fathers believed in having a free republic where citizens could have a voice in deciding and defining how their nation would be run. 

Thus, they took a risk and left the future of American democracy in the hands of ordinary people.

democracy in article 7
Article 7 endorses the idea of democracy by placing the responsibility of ratification on the states.

A precedent-setting Article

In essence, this was the very first referendum held in America, just before the first Presidential election on January 10th, 1789, when George Washington took office. Article VII of the United States Constitution set a precedent for what kind of nation America would always be.

Painting of the Constitutional Convention
39 of 55 delegates signed the US Constitution.

Fight for Change

The majority of Americans are very passionate about faith and politics. From the beginning of America’s formation, it has been that way. But, just as today, we have Democrats and Republicans standing for election, back in 1787, Federalists and Anti-Federalists were standing for election.

Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was an ardent Federalist.

Federalists felt that a large government encompassing the entire nation was necessary to unify everyone and keep all citizens on the same page regarding the federal government and laws.

The Federalist Papers, written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison Jr, and John Jay and supported by the likes of Nicholas Gilman, set out why the idea of ratification was so important and supported the ideas set out in Article 7 of the Constitution.

Book cover of federalist papers
Downloadable and Printable Version of Federalist Papers

How did the Anti-Federalists feel about a federal government?

Anti-Federalists believed that government would work best when scaled down to a local level and limited national authority to preserve individual liberties better.

In a compilation of letters and thoughts called the Anti-Federalist Papers, George Clinton, Robert Yates, and Samuel Bryan collectively expressed the following sentiment of concern:

“Compulsive or treacherous measures to establish any government whatever will always excite jealousy among a free people: better remain single and alone than blindly adopt whatever a few individuals shall demand, be they ever so wise. I had rather be a free citizen of the small republic of Massachusetts, than an oppressed subject of the great American empire.”

This highlights the belief that forcing a government on the people through deceit or coercion would lead to suspicion and mistrust among the populace. The author expresses a preference for remaining independent and free, rather than submitting to the rule of a powerful government controlled by a select few individuals.

The author also expresses a preference for a smaller republic like Massachusetts, where the people have greater representation and control over their government, compared to being a subject of a larger, more oppressive empire.

Overall, the quote reflects a strong preference for individual freedom and distrust of centralized power.

Maintaining faith in a United States government

Throughout the United States, people were divided about how much power should belong to the central or state government. It makes one wonder how discouraged a Founding Father must have been hearing complaints and comments such as the one mentioned above. 

Still, they kept their faith that they could begin building a better, responsible, free nation that is the America we know today.

Final Ratification

Finally, on June 21st, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to accept the Constitution as the ultimate governance authority to maintain justice and reinforce God-given liberties. 

New Hampshire State Legislature
New Hampshire was the ninth state to ratify the Constitution.

From that point, it would forever be regarded as the supreme law of the land, although it had not been met with unanimous approval or achieved unanimous consent.

It is safe to say that our ancestors had no idea what a monumental time they were living in and how much they had changed the course of history for the better.

Once President George Washington and the vice president began their term on March 4th, 1789, they started to carry out their duties. He established people to serve in the House and Senate and in Judiciary positions. A new republic was formed stronger than any previous attempts at a free nation.

Article 7 Created Independence

Article 7 of the United States Constitution culminated in our forefathers’ great efforts on the long road to independence. Change is never easy but necessary for progress.

Before long, they could see their vision of democracy coming to fruition. A United States government of the people, by the people, and for the people was built upon the backs of brave men who carried out their duty and stood up for what they knew was right.

Safeguarding our liberties

May we not forget these words spoken by Abraham Lincoln:

“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.”

Photo of Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln was all too aware of the importance of the Constitution in protecting our liberties.

Citizens of the United States must remember how far it took to get to where we are now and think twice before attempting to change the text of our Constitution to fit our whims and ideas. For if we forsake our past, we are destined for future disaster.

The lasting impact of Article 7

Article 7 of the United States Constitution has had a profound and lasting impact on American society and politics, as it was the final step in creating a federal system of government that has endured for over two centuries.

The Constitution created a stronger central government with specific powers, while also reserving powers to the states. This balance of power has helped to maintain stability and allowed for the growth and development of the United States as a nation.


Article NumberArticle VII
PurposeTo establish the process for the ratification of the United States Constitution
Ratification9 out of 13 states are required for ratification
DateSeptember 17, 1787
SignificanceSet a precedent for democracy in America
ImpactEstablished a federal system of government, protected individual rights, and created a framework for American democracy that has endured for over two centuries.

Watch the following video on Article VII of the United States Constitution:

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