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In the fall of 1787, each of the thirteen 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.
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.
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