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The Constitution • Ratifying the Constitution
Classroom Activities

Objective: Students will describe how the founders used compromise to align their different perspectives, allowing for the creation and ratification of the Constitution.

Key Questions:

  • How does the debate between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists clearly spell out the differences in thinking between the founders as they wrote the Constitution?
  • How did compromise lead to the ratification of the Constitution?

Notes on Implementation:

  • You may want to assign students their roles to ensure equal representation across the class.
  • To further support students, you can provide a graphic organizer to help in their research.
  • Emphasize respectful debate during the negotiation.
  • At the end of the activity, debrief with the class to apply their experience to that of the actual Constitutional Convention.

Student Activity: Students can access the below activity in the Constitution Topic Center within the American Government database.

Student Activity:

When the members of the Constitutional Convention sent the new U.S. Constitution to the states for ratification, there was no guarantee that they would approve the document. In fact, while the Federalists supported the document, it faced significant opposition from the Anti-Federalists. Ultimately, the Constitution was ratified by all 13 states after a significant amount of debate and compromise.

In this activity, you will assume the role of an early state and participate in a mock Constitutional Convention to reach compromises on key issues relevant to the nation when it was founded.



  • Select a role to play at the Constitutional Convention: Large Slave State, Small Slave State, Large Free State, or Small Free State.
  • Using the above Resources, research the following topics, keeping in mind your chosen point of view:
    • How each state will be represented in Congress
    • Counting slaves for the purposes of the representation in Congress
    • The future of the slave trade
    • The ability of Congress to regulate interstate commerce
    • The manner in which the President will be chosen
    • The protection of individual rights
  • Assemble notes on your research to present during the negotiation session.

Enter into a set of negotiations on the issues above with students representing other roles. Your goal is to come to an agreement in each area that everyone is satisfied with.


Key Understandings:

  • Founding documents are a result of compromise and the direct experiences of those drafting them.
  • Democratic governments strike a balance between majority rule and minority rights.

Possible Answers for Activity:

In the course of their negotiations, students might address the following conflicts of interest:

  • Proportional representation favoring large states vs. equal representation favoring small states
  • The need for a powerful legislative body vs. the need to protect individual rights
  • Counting slaves as citizens for purposes of representation vs. denying slaves the rights of citizenship

MLA Citation

"Ratifying the Constitution." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2020, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Content/2042747?cid=257. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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