U.S. Constitution Week is upon us.
As historian Paul Johnson notes in his book, “A History of the American People,” “The (Constitutional) Convention met in Philadelphia again and sat for four months, breaking up on Sept. 17, 1787, its work triumphantly done.”
Developing the Constitution among the original states was far more difficult than Johnson’s lone sentence makes it sound.
Essentially, after winning the American Revolution, Founding Fathers set upon a course to overturn the revolutionary era’s Articles of Confederation and establish the principles of a new government — even more difficult, a new type of government.
Among the ranks of the Constitutional Convention were men such as George Washington, who presided over the proceedings, Benjamin Franklin and James Madison, who is often called the “father of the Constitution” for his role in developing the document, and Alexander Hamilton, who along with Madison and John Jay formulated the arguments for the Constitution in the series of letters commonly called today The Federalist Papers.
They were among 55 delegates who signed the Constitution in 1787.
The Constitution established the nation’s Bill of Rights (though later in 1791), and the balance of power throughout three branches of federal government: executive (President), legislative (Congress) and judicial (Supreme Court).
Though in commemorations it often falls under the shadow of the Declaration of Independence’s popular appeal, the Constitution is often referred to as a “living document” because Americans still live by its principles and it has the ability to adapt.
When times and attitudes change, amendments have been added to the Constitution to reflect new national and societal issues, but the core values and established rights stated in the document remain intact.
The Declaration stated men are equal and should be allowed to live freely. The Constitution is a guide for how to govern while retaining the concepts of equality and freedom.
National Constitution Week is commemorated Sept. 17-23.