Video:What Is the Constitution?with Jade Broadus
The Constitution is the foundation of American law. Watch this About.com video to learn how the Constitution developed and what it establishes for United States.See Transcript
Transcript:What Is the Constitution?
Hi, I’m Jade. Today with About.com we are going to discuss the United States Constitution, the longest-standing Constitution in world history and the foundation of American law.
The Evolution of the Constitution
By 1786, it had become apparent that the United States’ first constitution, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, was insufficient to govern the nation. In its place the Constitution of the United States was drafted in 1787 by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Signed on September 17, 1787, by 39 of the 55 delegates present at the Convention, the Constitution was then made official in 1787. Consisting of a preamble, seven articles, and 27 amendments, the Constitution lays the framework for the American government and sets forth the principle rights of the American people.
Twelve of the thirteen states were represented at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The Framers of the Constitution, a large contingent of America’s Founding Fathers; George Washington presided over the Convention, and James Madison became known as the “Father of the Constitution”, and Gouverneur Morris was responsible for actually putting the agreement down on paper.
How the Constitution Became Law
Needing ratification by two-thirds of the states in order to go into effect, the Constitution didn’t officially become law until 1789, when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify. Eventually, all 13 states ratified the Constitution, with Rhode Island holding out the longest, not voting to ratify until May of 1790.
What is in the Constitution
Above all, the Constitution of the United States serves to create a balanced central government and to protect the rights of the American people by limiting the control of that government. It establishes a balance of powers among three branches of the federal government and institutes a system of checks and balances to keep any one branch from exerting too much influence. Furthermore, the Constitution allows for the sharing of power between national, state, and local governments, calls for the separation of church and state, and stipulates the steps necessary for making amendments. The first ten amendments to the Constitution, known collectively as the Bill of Rights, guarantee the rights of the American people.
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