|Title:||Constitution of the United States.|
|Series:||America's Historical Documents.|
|Description:||This National Archives page offers a wealth of resources: facsimiles of the original constitution, transcription, and information about the constitution. Additionally, the National Archives and Records Administration building in Washington has a display copy and information about visiting the exhibit.|
|Title:||Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation (CONAN).|
|Published:||Washington: U.S. G.P.O.|
|Description:||Coverage of court cases on constitional law. The "base edition" covers court cases through 2002. Kept up to date by supplements. Note: the base edition is a huge PDF file; the document is more than 2000 pages.|
|Title:||The Constitution of the United States of America As Amended: Unratified Amendments, Analytical Index.|
|Series:||House document (U. S. Congress. House); 110-50.|
|Published:||Washington: U.S. G.P.O.: U.S. G.P.O., 2007.|
|Title:||Delaware's Ratification of the Constitution: Transcription.|
|Title:||"An Introduction to Ratification in Delaware."|
|Published:||In Ratification by the States (RCS) series, Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1976-.|
|Title:||The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution.|
|Published:||Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1976-.|
|Location:||Morris Library KF4502 .D63|
|Title:||Center for the Study of the American Constitution.|
|Published:||University of Wisconsin.|
The Constitution is a living document. Article V describes the process for amending the Constitution:
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
At the time the first Federal Congress met in New York in March 1789, there were eleven states in the new union. Rhode Island and North Carolina were not part of United States at that time.
The House of Representatives met March 4, but not enough members had arrived to form a quorum. The House continued opening sessions and then adjourning until a quorum was finally achieved on Wednesday, April 1. Delaware's representative John Vining arrived and "took his seat" on Wednesday, May 6.
It was on June 8 that James Madison (Virginia) introduced the issue of amendments in the House of Representatives. The idea was not immediately pleasing to everyone and discussion ensued. Some Representatives felt that procedures had not been properly followed. Some felt that the young legislature had other, more pressing, business to attend to. John Vining, Representative at Large from Delaware, said that "the great amendment which the government wants is expedition in the despatch of business." (Annals of Congress, p. 446)
Many felt that amendments were unnecessary; some even thought they were dangerous. The Annals of Congress reports this about Mr. Vining's views:
At the end of the day, it was decided to bring the question of amendments to the House assembled as a committee of the whole. The matter proceeded through a committee and a report, and several days of discussion resulting in a list of seventeen articles sent to the Senate on August 24 for their concurrence. On September 19, the House received the Senate's proposed amendments to the Constitution. Differences between the versions necessitated a conference to discuss the amendments. On September 21, three members of the House were appointed as members of this conference: Mr. Madison of Virginia, Mr. Sherman, and Delaware's representative, John Vining. They submitted their report on September 24 and the House voted to concur. The House signed the enrolled articles of amendment on the evening of September 28, prior to the adjournment of Congress on September 29.
There is less information on the debates of the Senate because the Senate meet in closed session until the Third Congress.
The Senate met March 4, but not enough members had arrived to form a quorum. The Senate continued opening sessions and then adjourning until a quorum was finally achieved on Monday, April 6. Richard Bassett from Delaware arrived and "took his seat" on Saturday, March 21st. George Read from Delaware arrived and "took his seat" on Monday, April 13.
Senate resolved to concur with the House proposal on September 25.
Congress at its adjournment on September 29, 1789 sent twelve articles of amendment to the President to be sent to the legislatures of the several states and to North Carolina and Rhode Island.
|Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, 1789-1793|
Delaware ratified eleven of the twelve amendments on January 28, 1790.
The proposed amendments to the Constitution were introduced into the Delaware House of Assembly on January 20, 1790, by Mr. Kean, a member of the Executive Council. The accompanying message from Council said that Council agreed to all of the amendments except the first article. This was signed by George Mitchell, Speaker of Council. (Delaware. General Assembly. House. Journal, p. 21) The House sent the articles to committee, received the committee's favorable report , and reported the House's agreement to the Council. Council presented the form of the ratification that would be attached to the engrossed amendments. The final reading was on January 28th and this was the first time the text of the proposed amendments was included in the Journal. At the bottom of the Amendments appeared the Great Seal of Delaware and in large writing the words "The General Assembly of Delaware." This was followed by the ratification statement and the signatures of George Mitchell, Speaker of Council, and Jehu Davis, Speaker of the House. (Delaware. House. Journal. p. 24, 37-40)
The news of Delaware's ratification was received in Congress on March 8, 1790. The message was transmitted by Joshua Clayton, the President of the Delaware State. (Annals of Congress, 1st Congress, Appendix p. 2037)
By December 15, 1791, three-fourths of the states had ratified 10 of the 12 amendments, which became the Bill of Rights.
An interesting sidelight to the federal Bill of Rights is that Delaware had its own bill of rights, passed along with the state constitution of 1776. The Delaware Bill of Rights is online in the Delaware Code Online and is included in the Delaware Code Annotated, on the pages following the state Constitution.
The "lost" amendment of the eleven that Delaware ratified was on the subject of pay raises for Congress. It read: No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened. This amendment received ratifications from only six states; not enough to fully ratify it. Then the amendment was fully ratified as the 27th Amendment to the Constitution in 1992. (Federal Register 57 FR 21188, 1992; National Archives, Bill of Rights, 27th Amendment; Constitution of the United States: Analysis and Interpretation...1992, p. 1997.)