Virginia Never Ratifies the Constitution

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by robertp6165, Aug 28, 2010.

  1. robertp6165 Confederate Troll

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    In OTL, Virginia was one of the last States to ratify the Constitution, finally doing so on June 25, 1788. It was the tenth State to do so (the ninth had ratified on June 20).

    The fact that it was the tenth State to ratify the Constitution is significant, because the Constitution states, in Article VII, that the Constitution would go into effect between the States which had ratified it, once NINE States had ratified the document. States which had not ratified it were NOT part of the Union until they did ratify it. So between June 21 and June 25, Virginia was, in reality, an independent country (as were New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island until they ratified the Constitution).

    There was strong opposition to the ratification of the Constitution in Virginia, led by men such as Patrick Henry. It took all the prestige and political resources of men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison to get the document ratified. But what if they had failed, and Virginia declared its intention to remain an independent country?
     
  2. zoomar Curmudgeon

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    It may be a stretch to call the states that failed to sign the constitution as independent countries. They were previously part of the United States under the Articles of Confederation. Despite what says in the Constitution, I have to imagine that if large states like Virginia, New York, and North Carolina never signed the document, an effort would be made to amend it so they would formally join the union - and until that occurred systems established in the old confederation would continue to function to keep a 13-state "United States of America" in business some way or another even if in a informal arrangement. While there was strong sentiment against elements of the constitution in Virginia and elsewhere, there was even stronger sentiment that some sort of union or confederation of the American states was essential.
     
  3. robertp6165 Confederate Troll

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    Well, the Constitution and the Articles of Confederation are actually incompatible documents, since the Constitution was adopted by means which were completely illegal under the Articles of Confederation. You can't really say that the union which existed existed when the Articles of Confederation was in force continued to exist when the Constitution was adopted. If it does still exist, then the United States has been governing itself illegally for the past 200+ years. I am attaching a copy of a short paper I wrote on the subject some years ago.

    While that was obviously true in OTL, we are talking about an ATL where, in Viriginia at least, they came to the opposite conclusion.
     

    Attached Files:

  4. Shawn Endresen Member. Of everything.

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    New York will be overjoyed. With Virginia on the sidelines it can dominate the lower house and the Presidential elections; I think this actually strengthens Hamilton's Federalists. John Jay, Aaron Burr, and Henry Dearborn, Presidents 2-4? (with John Adams as President #1.)

    Without John Marshall, who heads the SCOTUS? I bet we see the third branch of government fade swiftly into irrelevance without him...

    Ohio will be messy. The USA and Virginia both have a claim to it...
     
  5. AuroraBorealis Member

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    and if New York or NC were to follow that example...on what grounds are we presuming that Virginia decides not to ratify. That would have some bearing on the discussion.

    Britain I would presume would sit and wait and see what developes before deciding on any course of action and even if its to their advantage to act in any way.

    Ohio would be messy since both would claim it or in the case of Virginia vast portions of it. Georgia has not surrendered its claims either to the Federal gov/t and may choose to wait/ pending the negotiations with Virginia.

    Presumably there would be efforts to address the Virginian concerns and get them to ratify but I presume the assumption is that those efforts fail. So I would guess that Virginia would move to a formal DOI itself eventually. They may adhere to the Articles of Confederation in the interim, but the arrangement would become unworkable eventually and would serve as a source of discord the longer it goes on...One set of rules for the US and another for Virginia, a state that makes up what, a Quarter to a third of the population of the entire USA or thereabouts. As soon as its in the Commonwealth' s interests to do so they will likely do so.

    this will be interesting when it comes to the entrance of Kentucky and Tennessee. Ky's continued existence in the Commonwealth of Virginia will be key if it wishes to exert any claims it might have on the Northwest.

    this will leave the southern states in a precarious position if Virginia bisects the USA as an independent. they would probably find it in their interest to rethink their position... and leave as well to form a new union of their own or align with Virginia. ouch a scenario where a USA, CoV and CSA are all possible east of the Mississippi.
     
  6. DuQuense Commisioned Officer CSN

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    Virginia & North Carolina continue operating under the AoC
     
  7. Lord Grattan consigned to OTL

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    NC & VA would need to negotiate a new set of articles as the previous AoC between the states would be now be worthless parchment being as everyone else had abandoned it. What do you think the new "compact" would look like?
     
  8. Shawn Endresen Member. Of everything.

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    1788, between two and only two states? It looks like a free trade and mutual defense pact between two sovereign nations. Any larger structure would be silly and pointless.
     
  9. robertp6165 Confederate Troll

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    That's quite likely. Indeed, we may see George Washington go home to Mount Vernon and divorce himself from politics for the rest of his life, and somebody like Patrick Henry as the first President of the Republic of Virginia.

    Probably not. With the Federalists in charge of the Northern-dominated United States, they are going to want a strong Supreme Court, as such a body will tend to reinforce the trend toward centralism which the Federalists supported.

    Well, Virginia gave up its claim in 1784 while still under the Articles of Confederation. Nothing that has happened here suddenly makes that claim valid again.

    Georgia held onto it's claims to it's western terrritories until 1802 in OTL. Nothing here to really change that, since Virginia has no basis to reclaim land it had already freely given up four years before.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2010
  10. robertp6165 Confederate Troll

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    Might be interesting if Virginia, North Carolina, New York and New Hampshire claimed to be the LEGITIMATE United States of America still governed by the Articles of Confederation, arguing that the Constitution, as it was adopted, was illegal under the Articles of Confederation and therefore the other States are in rebellion. :D