The Ratification Super-Quiz

On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution, making it the law of the land in the brand-new United States of America. Test your knowledge about the push for ratification.

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Talk about a turning of the seasons: On June 21, 1788, around the time of the summer solstice, New Hampshire ratified the newly-minted U.S. Constitution – the ninth state to do so, and officially making the Constitution the supreme law of our land. 
It was a day of celebration for Federalists up and down the continent. The struggle to ratify the Constitution had been marked by intense debates and significant opposition, stemming from a deep-seated fear of centralized power. Following the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the proposed Constitution faced scrutiny as it required the approval of nine out of the 13 states to become law. As we mark the anniversary of New Hampshire putting the Constitution over the top, let’s test our ratification knowledge, shall we?  
1. Which state ratified the Constitution with the narrowest margin of votes?
    • A) New York
    • B) Virginia
    • C) Massachusetts
    • D) Rhode Island

A) New York. While some states ratified quickly, others – including the more powerful states like Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York – became battlegrounds between The Federalists (those who supported ratification) and the Anti-Federalists (those who opposed it). New York was the last of those states to ratify the Constitution – 30 in favor and 27 against.

2. Who was the leading Anti-Federalist voice in Virginia, known for his powerful oratory against ratification?
    • A) George Mason
    • B) Patrick Henry
    • C) James Monroe
    • D) Richard Henry Lee

B) Patrick Henry. An Anti-Federalist, he feared a strong central government would overshadow the states’ autonomy and infringe upon individuals’ rights. He famously expressed his worries during the Virginia Ratifying Convention, arguing that the Constitution’s lack of explicit protections for individual liberties could erode personal freedoms.

3. The promise to add what key document helped to persuade several states to ratify the Constitution?
    • A) The Articles of Confederation
    • B) The Declaration of Independence
    • C) The Bill of Rights
    • D) The Federalist Papers

C) The Bill of Rights. To gain enough support to ratify, Federalists assured the skeptical states that the first Congress under the new Constitution would prioritize a Bill of Rights. This was a decisive factor for states where strong opposition existed. In 1789, James Madison introduced a series of amendments during the First Congress, which were subsequently ratified by the states and today, safeguard freedoms such as speech, assembly, and religion.

4. What pseudonym did Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay use when writing the Federalist Papers?
    • A) Publius
    • B) Brutus
    • C) Cato
    • D) Agricola

A) Publius. This was a nod to Publius Valerius Publicola, a Roman consul and defender of the Roman Republic known for his efforts in establishing a balanced and just government. In adopting this name, Jay, Hamilton, and Madison symbolically aligned themselves with the principles of republicanism and the promotion of a government that served the public good.

5. Which state’s convention featured a contentious debate and a close vote, culminating in a 187-168 decision in favor of ratification?
    • A) New York
    • B) Virginia
    • C) Massachusetts
    • D) New Hampshire

C) Massachusetts. Like other states, Massachusetts had diverse economic interests and regional concerns that influenced delegates’ positions on ratification. Taxation, commerce, and representation were debated intensely, reflecting differing perspectives among urban and rural interests.

6. What significant event in 1786-87 highlighted the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and influenced the call for a stronger federal government?
    • A) The Whiskey Rebellion
    • B) The Boston Tea Party
    • C) Shays’ Rebellion
    • D) The War of 1812

C) Shay’s Rebellion. This uprising in Massachusetts was led by farmers and other rural citizens who were experiencing economic hardship and believed that the state government was not addressing their grievances effectively. The rebellion underscored the weaknesses of the central government under the Articles of Confederation, particularly its inability to raise funds for national defense or to quell internal unrest. Shays’ Rebellion alarmed many political leaders and citizens, leading them to recognize the urgent need for a stronger federal government that could maintain order, protect property rights, and respond effectively to domestic and international challenges.

7. What was the main concern addressed by the Federalist Papers No. 10, written by James Madison?
    • A) The dangers of factions
    • B) The need for a standing army
    • C) The powers of the executive branch
    • D) The structure of the judicial system

A) The dangers of factions. Madison addresses how to reconcile citizens with interests contrary to the rights of others or blocking the interests of the community as a whole. Madison saw factions as inevitable as long as people held differing opinions, had differing amounts of wealth, and owned differing amounts of property. He submitted that citizens would continue to form alliances with people who are most similar to them and sometimes work against the public interest and infringe upon the rights of others, and discussed how a new Constitution would address factions.

8. Which prominent Federalist argued that the Bill of Rights was unnecessary because the Constitution itself was a bill of rights?
    • A) John Jay
    • B) George Washington
    • C) James Madison
    • D) Alexander Hamilton

D) Alexander Hamilton. In Federalist 84, Hamilton warned that a bill of rights could even be dangerous, because defining certain rights vaguely would leave them subject to misinterpretation or violation, where previously no such power had existed. Moreover, some important rights would be left out and therefore endangered.

9. Which compromise at the Constitutional Convention helped to gain support for ratification from smaller states?
  • A) The Three-Fifths Compromise
  • B) The Great Compromise
  • C) The Commerce Compromise
  • D) The Slave Trade Compromise

B) The Great Compromise. The agreement determined that there would be two houses in the legislative branch – with proportional representation in one house (the House of Representatives), and equal representation in the other house (the Senate). The Great Compromise convinced both large and small states to ratify the Constitution.

10. Which Federalist Paper discusses the importance of an independent judiciary?
    • A) Federalist No. 51
    • B) Federalist No. 14
    • C) Federalist No. 84
    • D) Federalist No. 78

D) Federalist No. 78. In explaining the need for an independent judiciary, Alexander Hamilton noted that the federal courts “were designed to be an intermediate body between the people and their legislature” to ensure that the people’s representatives acted only within the authority given to Congress under the Constitution. Hamilton argued for courts to have the responsibility of interpreting the Constitution’s meaning and the meaning of any laws passed by Congress.

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