Today is celebrated in the United States as Constitution Day. But while the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed their names to the document on September 17, 1787, the Constitution did not become law until it was considered, debated, and finally ratified by the states. In September, 1788, with eleven states having voted for ratification, the Continental Congress passed a resolution that put the Constitution into effect. The final two states, Rhode Island and North Carolina, did not agree to ratification until 1790.
While Alexander Hamilton had serious doubts about many aspects of the Constitution, once he put his signature to the document, he threw himself whole-heartedly into the battle for ratification. Along with James Madison and John Jay, he wrote the eighty-five essays arguing for ratification that have become known as the Federalist Papers. Jay wrote five of the essays, Madison twenty-nine, and Hamilton, always deft with a pen and an argument, wrote the remaining fifty-one.
The Constitution is a four-page document; you can read the original in its entirety here. State by state, the delegates signed the final page. Hamilton was a junior delegate (not only among the least experienced politically, but also a mere thirty years old) from New York, but because the other delegates were not in favor of the Constitution, they had left the convention earlier, leaving Hamilton to be the only New Yorker to sign. In the close-up, above, his signature stands proudly alone - and makes something of a brash statement with that extra-long slash to cross the "T".
I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott will be published September 26, 2017, by Kensington Books. Pre-order now.