1787 Constitutional Convention begins Four years after the United States won its independence from England, 55 state delegates, including George Washington, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin, convene in Philadelphia to compose a new U.S. constitution. The Articles of Confederation, ratified several months before the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781, provided for a loose confederation of U.S. states, which were sovereign in most of their affairs. On paper, Congress–the central authority–had the power to govern foreign affairs, conduct war, and regulate currency, but in practice these powers were sharply limited because Congress was given no authority to enforce its requests to the states for money or troops. By 1786, it was apparent that the Union would soon break up if the Articles of Confederation were not amended or replaced. Five states met in Annapolis, Maryland, to discuss the issue, and all the states were invited to send delegates to a new constitutional convention to be held in Philadelphia. On May 25, 1787, delegates representing every state except Rhode Islandconvened at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania State House for the Constitutional Convention. The building, which is now known as Independence Hall, had earlier seen the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the signing of the Articles of Confederation. The assembly immediately discarded the idea of amending the Articles of Confederation and set about drawing up a new scheme of government. Revolutionary War hero George Washington, a delegate from Virginia, was elected convention president. During three months of debate, the delegates devised a brilliant federal system characterized by an intricate system of checks and balances. The convention was divided over the issue of state representation in Congress, as more populated states sought proportional legislation, and smaller states wanted equal representation. The problem was resolved by the ConnecticutCompromise, which proposed a bicameral legislature with proportional representation in the lower house (House of Representatives) and equal representation of the states in the upper house (Senate). On September 17, 1787, the Constitution of the United States of America was signed by 38 of the 41 delegates present at the conclusion of the convention. As dictated by Article VII, the document would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the 13 states. Beginning on December 7, five states–Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut–ratified it in quick succession. However, other states, especially Massachusetts, opposed the document, as it failed to reserve undelegated powers to the states and lacked constitutional protection of basic political rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press. In February 1788, a compromise was reached under which Massachusetts and other states would agree to ratify the document with the assurance that amendments would be immediately proposed. The Constitution was thus narrowly ratified in Massachusetts, followed by Maryland and South Carolina. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document, and it was subsequently agreed that government under the U.S. Constitution would begin on March 4, 1789. On September 25, 1789, the first Congress of the United States adopted 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution–the Bill of Rights–and sent them to the states for ratification. Ten of these amendments were ratified in 1791. In November 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Rhode Island, which opposed federal control of currency and was critical of compromise on the issue of slavery, resisted ratifying the Constitution until the U.S. government threatened to sever commercial relations with the state. On May 29, 1790, Rhode Island voted by two votes to ratify the document, and the last of the original 13 colonies joined the United States. Today the U.S. Constitution is the oldest written national constitution in operation in the world. 1979 6-Year-old Etan Patz—boy on milk carton—goes missing On the morning of May 25, 1979, six-year-old Etan Patz walked the two blocks from his home to his bus stop in Manhattan. It was his first time walking there alone before school, and the last day his parents would ever see him. That’s because someone abducted Etan during that walk. In his parents’ effort to find him, Etan became among the first missing children to be featured on milk cartons. Julie and Stanley Patz didn’t realize her son was missing until later that day, when he didn’t come home from the Independence Plaza School. They soon learned he hadn’t been in his first grade class that day or even made the bus that morning, and called the police. Etan’s disappearance led to nationwide search that wasn’t resolved until 2017, when Pedro Hernandez was convicted of abducting and killing him. Etan was among the first non-celebrity missing children to gain national attention, the way JonBenét Ramsey would in 1996. In the early 1980s, Etan’s face appeared on milk cartons all over the country encouraging people to contact the authorities if they’d seen him. Etan’s case also led President Ronald Reagan to declare May 25 National Missing Children’s Day in 1983, and played a role in the founding of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. In the decades after Etan went missing, there were fake confessions, false leads and even young men who showed up at the Patz’s doorstep claiming to be Etan. For a long time, investigators suspected Jose Ramos of abducting him. Ramos was a friend of Etan’s former babysitter who was convicted of child molestation in the 1980s. But investigators were never able to confirm that Ramos was guilty. In 2000, authorities declared Etan legally dead, and the case went cold. Investigators reopened the case in 2010, and two years later they excavated the foundation of a home near Etan’s to look for clues. The excavation didn’t turn anything up, but the media coverage of it did lead people to report some new tips, one of which lead investigators to the person they were looking for. That person was Pedro Hernandez, who had been 18 and worked at the bodega near Etan’s bus stop the day he disappeared. Investigators discovered that in 1982, Hernandez had admitted in an open church confessional that he had killed a young boy. His family knew about this and had begun discussing it again when the saw news of the excavation. Police interrogated Hernandez, and he confessed that he had lured Etan into the bodega and strangled him. He then put his body in a box and left it outside in a trash pile a couple of blocks away. Hernandez’s 2015 case ended in a mistrial because one juror was not convinced he was guilty. Like the defense had argued, that juror was concerned Ramos was mentally ill and that police may have coerced him into a false confession. At his next trial in 2017, Ramos was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years to life in federal prison.