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Territories of the United States: Alaska, acquired from Russia on March 30, 1867; territory, August 24, 1912. Hawaii, annexed on July 7, 1898; territory, April 30, 1900.
Possessions of the United States:
Britain, December 2, 1899.
Ratification of Amendments
ARTICLE V of the National Constitution is as follows:
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;... Until Amendment XXI, state ratification was by the legislatures; this last one was submitted to conventions.
It has been usual to date the ratification of all amendments to the National Constitution from the certification by the secretary of state that a sufficient number of states had approved of it. On May 16, 1921, however, the Supreme Court of the United States announced in Dillon v. Gloss (256 U. S. 368, 376) that an amendment was in effect on the day when the legislature of the last necessary state ratified. Such ratification is entirely apart from state regulations respecting the passage of laws or resolutions. It is based on the higher law of the National Constitution itself, which, as it also did for the election of senators before Amendment XVII, prescribed action by the legislature alone. In consequence, approval or veto of such ratification by the governor is of no account either as respects the date or the legality of the sanction. The rule that ratification once made may not be withdrawn has been applied in all cases; though a legislature that has rejected may later approve, and this change has been made in the consideration of several amendments.
THESE passed Congress on September 25, 1789. Eleven states were necessary, since Vermont became a state before the ratification was completed. Virginia was this eleventh state and she agreed to the amendments on December 15, 1791. President Washington
DATES OF FIRST AMENDMENTS
announced the action of the states from time to time in messages to Congress. He reported the action of Virginia on December 30, 1791, and that of Vermont on January 18, 1792; but Vermont had ratified on November 3. There is no record of action by Connecticut, Georgia, or Massachusetts. Secretary Jefferson on March 1, 1792, announced the adoption to the governors of the states. (See pages 557, 558.)
CONGRESS proposed this on March 4, 1794, but the resolution was not enrolled and signed by the Vice President and Speaker until March 11. The records on the adoption are rather meager, and the states were so dilatory on notifying the central government of their sentiments that Congress on March 2, 1797, asked the President to make inquiries to Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina, half of the states then in the Union. On January 8, 1798, he reported that Kentucky having ratified, the amendment was “declared to be a part of the Constitution.' But Kentucky had ratified as early as December 17, 1794.
The honor of being the twelfth state to ratify lies between North Carolina and Delaware. Delaware ratified on January 23, 1795. The legislature of North Carolina passed the ratification as a law on January 19, 1795. In that state the governor did not possess the power to approve or veto a bill, but the constitution required that each act be signed by the speakers of the two houses, and this signature was essential to the validity of the law. All the laws of a session were so signed at that time on the last day; accordingly, this act of ratification bears the date February 7, 1795. It has been considered, therefore, that February 7 was the date of ratification of North Carolina, because the action, as required by state regulations, was not completed until that day. However, at that time in that state the rule of common law was in force which made a statute retroactive to the beginning of the session in which it was enacted, which in this case was December 30, 1794. In Tennessee there was a similar requirement of signature by the speakers, and there the state supreme court declared that though the signing was essential to the validity of the measure, yet it was of a ministerial and not of a legislative character, and being done, the “law takes effect from the date of its passage by relation.' Because of the contradictory character of the state regulations, and because they are also opposed to the principle of the Dillon v. Gloss decision govern
ing the legislature in the performance of a duty dependent upon the National Constitution only, the ratification by Delaware on January 23, 1795, is here considered as the final necessary one, with the ratification of North Carolina as of January 19. (See page 558.)
This proposal passed Congress on December 9, 1803, the vote of the Speaker being necessary for it in the House; but it was not enrolled and signed until December 12. James Madison, secretary of state, declared it in force on September 25, 1804. Thirteen states were then needed to ratify, and Tennessee was supposedly the last necessary state, July 27, 1804. Connecticut and Delaware rejected the proposal; and there is no record for Massachusetts. In New Hampshire the resolution passed on June 15, 1804, was vetoed on June 20, was not passed over the veto, and was never certified to the secretary of state; but since the veto of the governor was extralegal, the original action by the legislature of that state really consummated the ratification. (See page 558.)
This was submitted on January 31, 1865, by Congress, President Lincoln giving his unnecessary approval on the next day. It was rejected by Delaware and Kentucky, two of the loyal slaveholding states and the only states which had not already abolished slavery by state action, except Texas. It was also rejected by Mississippi, a slave state that had been one of the Confederate States. The remaining states, including the ten others that had been in the Confederacy, approved. As there were then thirty-six states, ratification by twenty-seven was needed. Georgia was the last necessary state, her legislature voting on December 6, 1865. Secretary Seward certified the amendment on December 18, 1865. At this time the southern states had been reorganized under presidential reconstruction and their legislatures, while annulling the ordinances of secession, had also abolished slavery within their limits. Later Congress refused to recognize these reorganized governments, except in Tennessee, but their ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment was none the less accepted to make it valid; because, if they were states within the Union, the amendment could not be carried without their approval. If the eleven states that formed the Confederate States were not in the Union, then there were only twenty-five states and nineteen were needed for ratification. On this basis the necessary
approval would have been that of New Hampshire, July 1, 1865. (See page 559.)
AMENDMENT XIV JUNE 13, 1866, was the date on which Congress voted this second of the Civil War amendments. The resolution was signed on June 15 and received by the secretary of state the next day. There were many complications over the ratification. The southern states were still unreconstructed when it was submitted, and conditions remained unsettled in that region during its consideration, Congress requiring ratification as a condition of reconstruction. Various states rejected the amendment and later accepted it; others, having approved, attempted to withdraw the approval. On the same basis as that under which the Thirteenth Amendment became a part of the Constitution, there were thirty-seven states to vote on it and twenty-eight was the required three-fourths. The legislatures of Louisiana and South Carolina, twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth states, both passed the amendment on July 9, and Alabama on July 13. Meanwhile, New Jersey and Ohio had withdrawn their acceptance. Secretary Seward made a conditional certification of ratification on July 20, 1868; but on July 21, Congress by concurrent resolution declared that the amendment had been ratified by twenty-nine states and directed Secretary Seward to promulgate it as a part of the Constitution, which he did on July 28 in a lengthy statement showing that he acted under the above order from Congress. Later Oregon also withdrew her acceptance. Delaware, Kentucky, and Maryland rejected the proposal and California ignored it. Four states added their approval after that of Alabama, more than making up the necessary twenty-eight without the three states that had withdrawn. (See page 559.)
AMENDMENT XV THE PROHIBITION of a color limitation on suffrage was offered to the states by Congress on February 26, 1869, and deposited with the secretary of state on the next day. By this time most of the southern states had been reconstructed; ratification of this amendment was required, however, of the remaining few before they would be readmitted. Georgia was the twenty-eighth state, February 2, 1870, and Secretary Fish announced the approval on March 30. New York withdrew her acceptance on January 5, 1870, but Nebraska added her name on February 17, and Texas on February 18. New Jersey, the last state to vote, did so on February 15, 1871. California, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Oregon, and Tennessee rejected the amendment. (See page 560.)