The U.S. Constitution

The Declaration of Independence, which was signed on July 4, 1776, was the first step in creating our nation. The second step was brought by the U.S. Constitution, which is still our governing document of laws.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” Read the entire original constitution at this website.

Some interesting facts about the U.S. Constitution and its construction:

  • Seventy-four delegates were appointed to the Federal Convention, of which 55 actually attended sessions, held in the State House (Independence Hall) in Philadelphia.
  • The sessions of the convention were held in secret—no reporters or visitors were permitted.
  • On June 29, 1787, the convention approved a resolution establishing population as the basis for representation in the House of Representatives, thus favoring the larger states. On a subsequent small-state proposal that the states have equal representation in the Senate, the vote resulted in a tie.
  • On Monday August 6, 1787, the convention accepted the first draft of the Constitution. Here was the article-by-article model from which the final document would result some 5 weeks later.
  • On August 21, 1787 the debate over the issue of commerce became very closely linked to another explosive issue—slavery.
  • One of the last major unresolved problems was the method of electing the executive; the result was the Electoral College.
  • On September 8, 1787 the convention was ready to turn the Constitution over to a Committee of Style and Arrangement.
  • The Constitution was presented to the convention on September 12, 1787 and the delegates methodically began to consider each section. Although close votes followed on several articles, it was clear that the grueling work of the convention in the historic summer of 1787 was reaching its end.
  • Before the final vote on the Constitution on September 15, 1787 late in the afternoon the roll of the states was called on the Constitution and from every delegation the word was “Aye.”
  • On September 17, 1787 the members met for the last time, and delegates in the hall formally signed the Constitution, and the convention adjourned at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
  • The Constitution, remains in excellent physical condition after more than 200 years.
  • On December 15, 1952, President Harry Truman declared at a formal ceremony in the Archives Exhibition Hall, “We are engaged here today in a symbolic act. We are enshrining these documents for future ages. This magnificent hall has been constructed to exhibit them, and the vault beneath, that we have built to protect them, is as safe from destruction as anything that the wit of modern man can devise. All this is an honorable effort, based upon reverence for the great past, and our generation can take just pride in it.” http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_history.html

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