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The Virginia Ratifying Convention was a convention of 168 delegates from Virginiamarker who met in 1788 to ratify or reject the United States Constitution, which had been drafted at the Philadelphia Convention the previous year. Delegates met and deliberated from June 2 through June 27 in Richmondmarker at the Richmond Theatre, presently the site of Monumental Churchmarker. By unanimous consent, Judge Edmund Pendleton served as the convention's president.

Delegates in favor of ratification ("Federalists") were led by James Madison, who had been a driving force behind the framing of the new Constitution. Other notable Federalists included Pendleton and John Marshall.

Opposing them were Patrick Henry, George Mason, William Grayson, James Monroe, and other "Anti-Federalists", who believed that the Constitution created a central government that was too powerful. Henry, the leader of this faction, opposed allowing the new central government to directly tax citizens of the various states, and he feared that the newly created office of President of the United States would become far too powerful. Henry's hostility to the government under the Constitution was so strong that he subsequently refused to join it, turning down offers to serve as United States Secretary of State and as a justice of the United States Supreme Courtmarker.

A major issue during the Virginia Ratification Convention was the question of individual rights. Many delegates who were in generally in favor of the Constitution were concerned that it did not contain a list of guaranteed rights akin to the celebrated Virginia Declaration of Rights. George Mason argued for the addition of a bill of rights, among other modifications.



On June 25, the convention ratified the Constitution by a vote of 89 to 79. The convention recommended but did not require the addition of a bill of rights. Many of the ideas presented during this convention were later incorporated into the United States Bill of Rights.

References



Further reading

  • Grigsby, Hugh Blair. The History of the Virginia Federal Convention of 1788.... Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Historical Society, 1891. Has short biographical sketches of some of the lesser-known delegates.
  • Kaminski, John P. and Gaspare J. Saladino, eds. Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, vols 8–10. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1988–1993.
  • Shepard, E. Lee, comp. Reluctant Ratifiers: Virginia Considers the Federal Constitution. Richmond: Virginia Historical Society, 1988. ISBN 0-945015-01-1.
  • Thomas, Robert E. "The Virginia Convention of 1788: A Criticism of Beard's An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution", The Journal of Southern History 19, no. 1 (Feb., 1953), pp. 63–72.


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