It occurs to me that the Founding Fathers should have required that the Constitution be ratified every generation or so. In fact they may well have understood it that way.
The Articles of Confederation required nine states to agree to any act, but it also clearly required that any change in the Articles themselves be unanimous. The new Constitution was therefore not a continuation of the Articles, since North Carolina and Rhode Island had not ratified it when Washington was sworn in, and Rhode Island refused to join during the entire First Congress, only going in under a threat of Congress putting tariffs on imports from them.
Also, the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention in 1787 were very familiar with the Articles, under which they had lived for a number of years. They were ALL aware that the Preamble to the Articles declared it “a perpetual Union.”
But they left THAT out of the Constitution!
You do not leave out all of the Preamble when you are AMENDING a founding document.
It was made absolutely clear to Rhode Island that they had a choice: if RI insisted on the perpetual union every state had agreed to, it would be treated as a foreign country. It was the Union OR the Constitution.
When someone asked Benjamin Franklin what the Convention had given America, he replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.” If he had put that in the Constitution by requiring regular reratification instead of making a cute remark, a few little problems like the Civil War could have been avoided.
In fact the Supreme Court has ruled that the United States is NOT a republic. In the 1960s most states had one house apportioned by population and a Senate apportioned by geography. The Warren Court stuck down every state constitution except that of unicameral Nebraska in one fell swoop.
The Warren Court pointed out that it was the job of the Federal Government to ensure that each state had “a republican form of government.” The Supreme Court declared that if one house was apportioned by geographical districts instead of by population, the government was not a republican one.
In other words, to be a republic you had to be a democracy.
This means that the United States Government is NOT a republic, if you believe in the Federal Court’s interpretation as the true Constitution.
Actually, it’s a little worse than that. Under the Constitution, the United States CANNOT be a republic. It turns out that there is only one part of the United States Constitution which cannot be amended. That is the equal representation of states in the United States Senate.