On this day in 1788, habitually cantankerous New Hampshire became the ninth and last required state to ratify the Constitution of the United States and make it the law of the land. December 7 of 1787 had seen Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Connecticut quickly signed the document. But Congress had voted that at least 9 of the 13 former colonies had to sign on before the document was considered adopted. New Hampshire, Massachusetts and the remaining states opposed the document, as it failed to reserve sufficient powers to the states and did not protect individual rights like freedom of speech, religion,the press, and the right to bear arms. In February of 1788, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and other states agreed to ratify the document with the promise that necessary amendments would be developed and proposed. The Constitution was ratified based on the compromise by Massachusetts, Maryland and South Carolina, making 8. New Hampshire made nine. The first Congress under the new Constitution adopted 10 amendments, the Bill of Rights, and sent them to the states for ratification. Rhode Island, which opposed federal control of currency and was critical of compromise on slavery, was the last hold-out; the U.S. government had to threaten to sever commercial relations with the state to force it to sign on. Finally, on May 29, 1790, Rhode Island voted to become the last of the original 13 colonies to join the United States of America.
Today the U.S. Constitution is the oldest written constitution in operation in the world, and the only one predicated on ethical principles, thanks to the Bill of Rights.
I would have preferred to see Constitution Day made a national holiday over “Juneteenth,” since it was the principles laid out in the Constitution, along with the Declaration of Independence, that eventually led to the elimination of slavery, and the document has been the backbone of our republic’s epic success in other respects as well.
1. “Larry Vaughn Day”? I regret not noting yesterday that it was the anniversary of the release of “Jaws,” a milestone in American cultural history. It is also an ethics movie, and one that pops into my mind often, since the irresponsible conduct of the weaselly mayor of Amity, Larry Vaughn (Played by Murray Hamilton, who made a career of portraying human weasels), remains SOP for so many elected officials, locally and nationally, and also the leadership of corporations, associations, industries, sports, universities and <cough> religious organizations. Ethics Alarms has a Larry Vaughn tag, and I should have used it in dozens more articles than I have. He is the perfect symbol of leadership that, in the words of Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) will always “ignore this particular problem until it swims up and bites you in the ass.”
The U.S. could benefit greatly from a “Larry Vaughn Day” on June 20 in which every elected official and organizational leader be required to watch “Jaws.”