Completion of the Revolution required ratification and then implementation of the federal Constitution. The first stage was to place the Constitution before conventions elected in each state for the sole purpose of considering whether it should be ratified. The process of ratification was slow and uncertain and provoked bitter public debate. Not until June 1788 did the ninth state necessary for it to come into effect ratify; the major states of Virginia and New York were not among them, though Virginia was only four days late and New York quickly followed. Neither North Carolina nor Rhode Island ratified before the new regime came into operation in April 1789. Disagreements centred on three elements: ideology, socioeconomics and political tactics. All were interactive, and all were especially concerned with the issues involved in strengthening the Union. But ratification was only a necessary stage, not a conclusion. It remained to bring life to the revised Union, for the principles, procedures and allocation of powers so carefully devised at Philadelphia were little more than statements of hope and intent; they were anything but self-enforcing. A new government had to be constructed which could implement in practice the theoretical principles of the new regime. This was the literally vital contribution of the first President and Congress. National politics under the Constitution also needed structures and organs through which a multitude of competing interests could be articulated. This was the function of the party system that developed during the 1790s.
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