[Constitution of the United States of America:  Analysis, and Interpretation - 1992 Edition ]
[The Constitution of the United States of America (With Annotations)]
[Article VII. Ratification ]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]



[[Page 949]]


 
                               ARTICLE VII ---  RATIFICATION

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

        In Owings v. Speed,\1\ the question at issue was whether the 
Constitution of the United States operated upon an act of Virginia 
passed in 1788. The Court held it did not, stating in part:

        \1\5 Wheat. (18 U.S.) 420, 422-423 (1820).
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        ``The Conventions of nine States having adopted the 
Constitution, Congress, in September or October, 1788, passed a 
resolution in conformity with the opinions expressed by the Convention, 
and appointed the first Wednesday in March of the ensuing year as the 
day, and the then seat of Congress as the place, `for commencing 
proceedings under the Constitution.'

        ``Both Governments could not be understood to exist at the same 
time. The New Government did not commence until the old Government 
expired. It is apparent that the Government did not commence on the 
Constitution being ratified by the ninth State; for these ratifications 
were to be reported to Congress, whose continuing existence was 
recognized by the Convention, and who were requested to continue to 
exercise their powers for the purpose of bringing the new Government 
into operation. In fact, Congress did continue to act as a Government 
until it dissolved on the 1st of November, by the successive 
disappearance of its Members. It existed potentially until the 2d of 
March, the day proceeding that on which the Members of the new Congress 
were directed to assemble.

        ``The resolution of the Convention might originally have 
suggested a doubt, whether the Government could be in operation for 
every purpose before the choice of a President; but this doubt has been 
long solved, and were it otherwise, its discussion would be useless, 
since it is apparent that its operation did not commence before the 
first Wednesday in March 1789 . . . .''