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In 1783, America emerged from a long and bitter war for independence. The thirteen colonies
were now thirteen sovereign states, bound together by the Articles of Confederation. After years of war, men
like Thomas Jefferson saw the possibility of something new under the sun: a government which derived its
just power from the consent of those governed. But the Continental Congress was bankrupt from the war,
and many of the thirteen states refused to contribute money or to cooperate with each other.
In May, 1787, delegates gathered in Philadelphia to attend a convention. After more than three months of
passionate debate, conflict, and compromise, the United States Constitution was passed, establishing a
national government. But to become the law of the land, the Constitution had to be independently ratified
by at least nine of the thirteen states.
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