The history of the Constitution is fascinating--stretching back more than 220 years.
Back in the late 1700s, the people of the original 13 colonies (before they became the United States) were living under the rule of King George III in Britain. Britain was treating the colonies horribly. You can read in the Declaration of Independence some of the atrocities that were committed against the states, including murdering the colonists. They wrote them out so there was no mistaking why they wanted to be free from Britain's rule.
The U.S. Constitution
Only days after signing the Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress submitted what is roughly the first Constitution, the Articles of Confederation. As it turned out, the Articles of Confederation had some weaknesses that needed to be addressed. Specifically, there was no strong central core of government of the people.
So, in 1787, delegates from each state (except Rhode Island, who declined to participate) began arriving at Independence Hall in Philadelphia to formulate a stronger government structure and the history of the Constitution was begun. These framers of the Constitution came up with a draft of the US Constitution, containing 23 articles to define our new government.
Gouverneur Morris edited, arranged, pared, and rewrote this first draft, this time leaving only the seven articles of the Constitution found in the US Constitution text today.
Signing the Declaration of Independence
There were 55 men responsible for coming up with the articles of the Constitution we still use today, but there were only 39 signers of the constitution. Because it took a while to discuss and construct, not everybody was present for each and every meeting or present at the actual day of signing.
After being signed by the framers of the Constitution, the next step was to get the Constitution ratified. Article 7 of the Constitution even made provision for its being accepted and put into use. Two thirds of the states (9 of the 13) had to agree to accept the Constitution in order for it to be ratified.
The founding fathers of the Constitution built the governmental framework we still have today, three branches of the federal government, plus the same three branches in each of the state governments. But they knew changes may need to be made over time, so they included provisions for making amendments to the Constitution in Article 5.
There are two ways the Constitution may be amended, but it is difficult to do so, undoubtedly by design. In fact, throughout the 220+ year history of the Constitution, it has been amended only 18 times. There are actually 27 amendments, but the first 10 amendments were made all at once in the Bill of Rights.
Interestingly, General George Washington had a conversation with Georgia Senator Abraham Baldwin in which he told Baldwin he didn't expect the Constitution to exist more than 20 years. But here we are, more than 220 years later, still fighting for the constitutional rights of Americans in all sorts of situations.
December 23, 1775
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