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The History of The United States Constitution


The History of The United States Constitution

The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. It provides the framework for the organization of the United States Government. The document outlines the three main branches of the government. The legislative branch is embodied in the bicameral Congress. The executive branch is headed by the President. The judicial branch is headed by the Supreme Court. Besides providing for the organization of these branches, the Constitution carefully outlines which powers each branch may exercise. It also reserves numerous rights for the individual states, and, thus, establishes the United States' federal system of government.
The United States Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and later ratified by conventions in each state in the name of "the People"; it has since been amended twenty-seven times, the first ten amendments being known as the Bill of Rights. The Constitution has a central place in United States law and political culture. The U.S. Constitution is the world's oldest federal constitution. The handwritten, or "engrossed", original document is on display at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C.

History of the United States Constitution

Drafting and ratification requirements
In September 1786, commissioners from five states met in the Annapolis Convention to discuss adjustments to the Articles of Confederation that would improve commerce. They invited state representatives to convene in Philadelphia to discuss improvements to the federal government. After debate, the Congress of the Confederation endorsed the plan to revise the Articles of Confederation on February 21, 1787. Twelve states, Rhode Island being the only exception, accepted this invitation and sent delegates to convene in May 1787. The resolution calling the Convention specified that its purpose was to propose amendments to the Articles, but the Convention decided to propose a rewritten Constitution. The Philadelphia Convention voted to keep the debates secret, so that the delegates could speak freely. They also decided to draft a new fundamental government design, which eventually stipulated that only nine of the thirteen states would have to ratify for the new government to go into effect (for the participating states).[6] Our knowledge of the drafting and construction of the United States Constitution comes primarily from the diaries left by James Madison, who kept a complete record of the proceedings at the Constitutional Convention.

Work of the Philadelphia Convention

The Virginia Plan was the unofficial agenda for the Convention, and was drafted chiefly by James Madison, considered to be "The Father of the Constitution" for his major contributions.It was weighted toward the interests of the larger states, and proposed among other points:
A powerful bicameral legislature with House and Senate
An executive chosen by the legislature
A judiciary, with life-terms of service and vague powers
The national legislature would be able to veto state laws

The Philadelphia Convention
An alternative proposal, William Patterson's New Jersey Plan, gave states equal weights and was supported by the smaller states.[9] Roger Sherman of Connecticut brokered The Great Compromise whereby the House would represent population, the Senate would represent states, and a powerful president would be elected by elite electors.
As a result, the original Constitution contained four provisions tacitly allowing slavery to continue for the next 20 years. Section 9 of Article I allowed the continued "importation" of such persons, Section 2 of Article IV prohibited the provision of assistance to escaping persons and required their return if successful and Section 2 of Article I defined other persons as "three-fifths" of a person for calculations of each state's official population.Article V prohibited any amendments or legislation changing the provision regarding slave importation until 1808, thereby giving the States then existing 20 years to resolve this issue. The failure to do so led to the Civil War.