Virginia Ratification
  • Colony Founded: April 1607
  • Ratified Constitution: June 25, 1788
  • Total Population: 734,744 (1790 est.)
    • Free: 442,117
    • Slave: 292,627
  • Major Economic Institutions: Plantations, Tobacco, Agriculture, Slavery
  • State Government: Virginia's state government had a bicameral House of Assembly, with a lower House of Delegates and an upper Senate. The governor and a Privy Council were elected by both branches of the legislature, who in turn would appoint judges and justices. While Virginia's constitution was drafted by such well-known Patriots as James Madison and George Mason, the established government placed significant restrictions on the power of the people, instead favoring the elite of society. Voting was only extended to white male property owners, which kept many people from participating in the state government.
  • Ratification Debate: More than any other ratification convention, Virginia's was a massive constitutional spectacle, as the Federalists and Anti-Federalists were evenly represented, and both had their share of celebrity speakers such as James Madison, Patrick Henry, George Mason, and Edmund Randolph. Over the course of a long and passionate debate, both sides delivered highly eloquent arguments for and against the Constitution. Patrick Henry in particular managed to push a Bill of Rights to the forefront of the debate, and contributed to getting it and twenty further amendments added, most of which guaranteed powers to the states, such as limiting federal taxing power. Ultimately, the convention ratified the Constitution 89-79 while recommending those amendments, expecting that the other states would follow their example in ratifying the amendments. Both sides took the decision honorably, with the Anti-Federalists choosing not to criticize the decision afterward, while the Federalists in turn decided not to celebrate excessively out of respect for the minority.1
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