Pennsylvania Ratification
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  • Colony Founded: March 4, 1681
  • Ratified Constitution: December 12, 1787
  • Total Population: 427,836 (1790 est.)
    • Free: 424,099
    • Slave: 3,737
  • Major Economic Institutions: Agriculture, Foreign Trade, Banking
  • State Government: Pennsylvania had an unusual state government, with a unicameral legislature and a twelve-member Supreme Executive Council both elected by the people. A president was then elected by these two branches to lead the Council, while judges were elected by the legislature alone. In addition to those branches, a Council of Censors was elected to monitor the state government for violations of the state constitution, giving the people another check on their government. Voting rights were extended to all tax-paying men, without a property requirement.
  • Ratification Debate: Soon after the proposed Constitution was given to the states, many Federalists rushed to get the document ratified in Pennsylvania first for symbolic purposes. While they quickly set up a ratification convention before any other state in November 1787, opponents of the Constitution from outside the Philadelphia area pushed back against the rushed ratification process. As the Federalists suppressed opposition in print media, the convention met and debated in an irregular manner. Debate procedures were ignored as various delegates emphatically spoke for or against ratification. Even so, though, the Federalists held the upper hand throughout the convention as they rejected every call for amendments to be added in the debate, insisting that the Constitution should be approved as is. Eventually, the convention voted 46-23 to ratify the Constitution, though the means of doing so were highly questionable. By that point, though, Delaware had already ratified the Constitution, making Pennsylvania the second to do so. Dissenters openly complained afterward of being ignored or coerced by the Federalists, and pushed for amendments for years afterward, especially later when other states did so in their conventions.1
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