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What Article 7 Says

What Article 7 Says


Article 7 of the United States Constitution is a short but important section of the document, containing just one sentence: “The ratification of the conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the same.” This article outlines the process by which the Constitution was to be ratified by the states, paving the way for the establishment of the federal government.


The process of drafting the United States Constitution began after the American Revolution, when the country’s leaders realized that the Articles of Confederation, which had been adopted in 1781, were inadequate for governing the new nation. In May 1787, delegates from all 13 states gathered in Philadelphia to draft a new constitution. After four months of debate and compromise, the Constitution was completed in September 1787 and sent to the states for ratification.

Overview of Article 7:

Article 7 outlines the process by which the Constitution was to be ratified by the states. It states that the ratification of nine states would be sufficient for the Constitution to be established between those states. The other four states could then decide whether or not to join the new federal government.

The Article does not provide any specific instructions for how the states should ratify the Constitution. However, the process was generally the same for each state. The Constitution was first considered by a state convention, composed of elected delegates. If the convention approved the Constitution, it was then sent to the state legislature for further consideration. If the legislature also approved the Constitution, the state’s ratification was complete.

Impact of Article 7:

Article 7 played a crucial role in the formation of the federal government and the establishment of the United States as a nation. Without this Article, the Constitution would not have been able to take effect, and the federal government would not have been able to function, as it would not have had the necessary support of the states.

The process of ratification was not without controversy, however. The Federalists, who supported the Constitution, engaged in a vigorous campaign to persuade the states to ratify the document. Their opponents, the Anti-Federalists, argued that the Constitution would create an overly powerful federal government at the expense of state sovereignty.

Nine states ultimately ratified the Constitution in 1788: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, and New Hampshire. In June 1788, Virginia ratified the Constitution, followed by New York in July. North Carolina and Rhode Island were the last states to ratify, in 1789 and 1790, respectively.


Article 7 of the United States Constitution was a crucial component of the ratification process for the Constitution. It outlined the process by which the Constitution would be ratified and established the minimum number of states required for the Constitution to become effective. The Article played a vital role in the formation of the United States as a federal republic and provided a framework for the federal government that has endured to this day.

Despite the controversy that surrounded the ratification process, the Constitution ultimately proved successful in establishing a stable and effective federal government. The U.S. Constitution remains the oldest written national constitution still in use and has served as a model for constitution-making around the world. Article 7 serves as a reminder of the importance of compromise, cooperation, and the rule of law in building a strong and resilient government.What Article 7 of the American Constitution literally states is that the ratification of the State Constitutional Conventions of nine of the then thirteen states will ultimately be sufficient for the establishment of the Constitution between the states that are ratifying the document.

In essence, the document implies a sense of plausible deniability; while the signers of the Constitution required the ratification of the nine states to exist, they also hedged the document’s language to stipulate that it would not necessarily implement its will over states that had not ratified it. To quote the article:

“The ratification of the Conventions of nine States shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the same.” The Article states the Constitution would only be established “between the States so ratifying the same,” in essence that Constitution would only represent the states that ratified the document. The other states that had not ratified could technically have claimed exemption had they decided not to ratify the document in question.

A situation where that may have happened almost arose after the Constitution received its ninth ratification, making it active and viable among those nine states. At the point when the document was established, the two most significant states, Virginia and New York, who both had considerable wealth, land, population, and who valued their sovereignty, had not ratified the document, and by its letter, would have remained technically exempt from its oversight.

Virginia and New York did ratify the Constitution, but by very slim majorities, within weeks of the document’s establishment, placing themselves under its auspices. Of the original thirteen states, Rhode Island was the final holdout, ratifying the Constitution almost ten years into its existence.

Since then, this implication of the wording of Article 7 remains largely moot, as every State that has joined the union has had to swear to acknowledge the legal superiority of the Constitution. Nevertheless, given that five of the thirteen states that unanimously ratified the Constitution only did so by a slim majority, it would have been amazing to think what might have happened if four of those states, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, had not ratified the Constitution. The history of the American Government might have been significantly different and the Constitution may not have been the vaunted document it is today.

A notable case that actually incorporated Article 7 was the Supreme Court case Owings v. Speed, which questioned whether a Virginia Law passed in 1788 was covered by the Constitution. It was decided at the time that the Constitution had no oversight over the law because the Federal Government had not yet existed in its current form, as the law predated the establishment of the Constitution and Virginia’s ratification of it. Since that meant that the Federal Government and Virginia’s sovereign State Government had not existed at the same time, the Constitution did not oversee the law that existed before the implementation of that law.