In the fall of 1787, the call went out: Each of the 13 states assembled special conventions to consider ratification of a proposed Constitution of the United States. Without ratification by nine conventions, the Constitution would flounder: America would be a league of states, not one nation.
At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, the states - voting as states - had unanimously approved the Constitution. But individual delegates had fiercely opposed certain aspects of the document. Now, they returned to their home states to agitate against the Constitution. Some demanded a bill of rights. Others complained that states' rights had been violated.
Some states - such as Delaware and Georgia - quickly and unanimously ratified. Other states - such as Virginia and New York - agonized. Two states - North Carolina and Rhode Island - would not ratify at all without a bill of rights. Indeed, Rhode Island would not approve the Constitution until economic sanctions had been imposed against her.
The Constitution was a controversial document, which was passionately debated by the best minds in the land.