AFTER the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the thirteen British colonies were known as the "Thirteen United States of America." Beyond the efforts of Congress to sustain the conflict between the States and the "mother country," and to encourage Washington in his design to free the soil from British domination, the political changes were unimportant, until England dispatched a messenger to New York with offers of peace, about the beginning of the year 1782. November 30, 1782, the preliminaries of peace were signed at Paris, France, and, on September 3, 1783, the treaty was concluded, the independence of each of the several States was acknowledged, and boundary lines established. The government of the States was then principally vested in Congress and their own legislation; but, May 14, 1787, a national convention met at Philadelphia. After four months' deliberation, the present Constitution of the United States was adopted, and submitted to the people of each State for ratification or rejection. Their action was tardy in the extreme, for although Delaware, the first State to accept it, voted for it December 7, 1787, Rhode Island, the last, did not ratify it until May 27, 1790; but every State voted in its favor. Congress ratified it March 4, 1789, at which time it became the law of the land.