233 years ago, CT ratified the U.S. Constitution

Photo of Jordan Fenster
One of Connecticut's early U.S. Senators, Roger Sherman, shown in this portrait, along with U.S. Sen. Oliver Ellsworth, came up with the Connecticut Compromise that helped forge the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., is hoping to honor that historic contribution by having Sherman and Ellsworth's portraits placed in the Senate Reception Room in the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo)

One of Connecticut's early U.S. Senators, Roger Sherman, shown in this portrait, along with U.S. Sen. Oliver Ellsworth, came up with the Connecticut Compromise that helped forge the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., is hoping to honor that historic contribution by having Sherman and Ellsworth's portraits placed in the Senate Reception Room in the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo)

AP

Happy birthday, Connecticut.

Delegates to the Connecticut state convention ratified the U.S. Constitution exactly 233 years ago, on Jan. 9, 1788.

That made Connecticut the fifth state to join the union. The vote was 128 to 40.

Among the arguments in favor was one of taxation, according to the office of the State Historian.

One delegate, Oliver Ellsworth, noted in his speech that Connecticut paid thousands of dollars in import taxes to both New York and Massachusetts. Joining the union could mean no more interstate import taxes.

“Our being tributaries to our sister states is in consequence of the want of a federal system. The state of New York raises 60 or £80,000 a year by impost (customs duty). Connecticut consumes about one third of the goods upon which this impost is laid, and consequently pays one third of this sum to New York,” Ellsworth said, as Politico reported. “If we import by the medium of Massachusetts, she has an impost, and to her we pay a tribute. If this is done when we have the shadow of a national government, what shall we not suffer when even that shadow is gone!”

Ellsworth had also been one of Connecticut's two representatives at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. His suggestion, along with his co-delegate, Roger Sherman, was to create two houses of government, both a senate and a house of representatives.

Intended to grant smaller states some measure of parity in governmental control, it was called the “great compromise,” or the “Connecticut compromise,” and it was approved by the convention by a margin of one vote.

The new constitution was ratified first by Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Georgia. Because of Sherman and Ellsworth’s compromise, Connecticut was expected to ratify the Constitution as well, which it did.

Massachusetts followed, and then Maryland and South Carolina. The Constitution became the law of the land when New Hampshire ratified it on June 21, 1788.