Subject: Re: Ratification and admission to the Union
Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2001 10:03:51 -0500
From: "Rodney Ross"
I've just left a message at your work number; no one answered at your home
number, but I didn't bother to leave a message.
The National Archives doesn't provide interpretations, so what follows is my
unofficial two-cents worth.
At the front of the UNITED STATES CODE (available to room 204 at the
downtown Washington, DC, National Archives Building, and a number of other
places in the greater Washington area) on page LVII of the first volume,
you'll find footnote #1 to the Constitution of the United States of
America. It repeats the information you already know.
The footnote gives the dates of ratification by the conventions of the
several states. When the Constitution went into effect on the 4th of March,
1789, it would have gone into effect only for those states that had ratified
That same footnote adds:
The President informed Congress, on the 28th of January, 1790, that North
Carolina had ratified the Constitution November 21, 1789; and he informed
Congress on the 1st of June, 1790, that Rhode Island had ratified the
Constitution May 29, 1790.
Thus, in my mind's eye, North Carolina ratified the Constitution on November
21, 1789, but wasn't formally made a part of the Union until January 28,
1790. Similarly, Rhode Island ratified the Constitution on May 29, 1790,
but wasn't formally made a part of the Union until June 1, 1790.
Rodney A. Ross
Center for Legislative Archives