United States Constitution - Wikipedia. The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. Its first three articles entrench the doctrine of the separation of powers, whereby the federal government is divided into three branches: the legislative, consisting of the bicameral. Congress; the executive, consisting of the President; and the judicial, consisting of the Supreme Court and other federal courts. Articles Four, Five and Six entrench concepts of federalism, describing the rights and responsibilities of state governments and of the states in relationship to the federal government. Article Seven establishes the procedure subsequently used by the thirteen States to ratify it. Since the Constitution came into force in 1.
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Others address issues related to federal authority or modify government processes and procedures. Amendments to the United States Constitution, unlike ones made to many constitutions worldwide, are appended to the document. All four pages. Constitution are written on parchment. For over two centuries the Constitution has remained in force because its framers wisely separated and balanced governmental powers to safeguard the interests of majority rule and minority rights, of liberty and equality, and of the federal and state governments.
Delegates to the First (1. Second (1. 77. 5–1. Continental Congress were chosen largely through the action of committees of correspondence in various colonies rather than through the colonial or later state legislatures. In no formal sense was it a gathering representative of existing colonial governments; it represented the dissatisfied elements of the people, such persons as were sufficiently interested to act, despite the strenuous opposition of the loyalists and the obstruction or disfavor of colonial governors.
Endowed by the people collectively, the Continental Congress alone possessed those attributes of external sovereignty which entitled it to be called a state in the international sense, while the separate states, exercising a limited or internal sovereignty, may rightly be considered a creation of the Continental Congress, which preceded them and brought them into being. Under the Articles of Confederation, the central government's power was quite limited. The Confederation Congress could make decisions, but lacked enforcement powers. Implementation of most decisions, including modifications to the Articles, required unanimous approval of all thirteen state legislatures. Some few paid an amount equal to interest on the national debt owed to their citizens, but no more. By 1. 78. 6, the United States would default on outstanding debts as their dates came due. Most of the troops in the 6.
United States Army were deployed facing – but not threatening – British forts on American soil. They had not been paid; some were deserting and others threatening mutiny. Spain closed New Orleans to American commerce; U. S. Barbary pirates began seizing American ships of commerce; the Treasury had no funds to pay their ransom. If any military crisis required action, the Congress had no credit or taxing power to finance a response.
Although the Treaty of Paris (1. Great Britain and the U. S., and named each of the American states, various individual states proceeded blithely to violate it. New York and South Carolina repeatedly prosecuted Loyalists for wartime activity and redistributed their lands.
Connecticut paid nothing and . A rumor had it that a . To the south, the British were said to be openly funding Creek Indian raids on white settlers in Georgia and adjacent territory.
Savannah (then- capital of Georgia) had been fortified, and the state of Georgia was under martial law. Additionally, during Shays' Rebellion (August 1. June 1. 78. 7) in Massachusetts, Congress could provide no money to support an endangered constituent state. General Benjamin Lincoln was obliged to raise funds from Boston merchants to pay for a volunteer army. Congress was paralyzed.
It could do nothing significant without nine states, and some legislation required all thirteen. When a state produced only one member in attendance, its vote was not counted. If a state's delegation were evenly divided, its vote could not be counted towards the nine- count requirement. The Articles Congress had . The vision of a . Their dream of a republic, a nation without hereditary rulers, with power derived from the people in frequent elections, was in doubt. On February 2. 1, 1.
Confederation Congress called a convention of state delegates at Philadelphia to propose a plan of government. The convention was not limited to commerce; rather, it was intended to .
Eventually twelve states were represented; 7. Their depth of knowledge and experience in self- government was remarkable. As Thomas Jefferson in Paris wrote to John Adams in London, . Two plans for structuring the federal government arose at the convention's outset: The Virginia Plan (also known as the Large State Plan or the Randolph Plan) proposed that the legislative department of the national government be composed of a Bicameral Congress, with both chambers elected with apportionment according to population. Generally favoring the most highly populated states, it used the philosophy of John Locke to rely on consent of the governed, Montesquieu for divided government, and Edward Coke to emphasize civil liberties. Generally favoring the less- populous states, it used the philosophy of English Whigs such as Edmund Burke to rely on received procedure and William Blackstone to emphasize sovereignty of the legislature.
This position reflected the belief that the states were independent entities and, as they entered the United States of America freely and individually, remained so. On June 1. 3, the Virginia resolutions in amended form were reported out of committee. The New Jersey plan was put forward in response to the Virginia Plan. A . All agreed to a republican form of government grounded in representing the people in the states. For the legislature, two issues were to be decided: how the votes were to be allocated among the states in the Congress, and how the representatives should be elected. In its report, now known as the Connecticut Compromise (or . There were sectional interests to be balanced by the Three- Fifths Compromise; reconciliation on Presidential term, powers, and method of selection; and jurisdiction of the federal judiciary.
On July 2. 4, a . Overall, the report of the committee conformed to the resolutions adopted by the Convention, adding some elements. A twenty- three article (plus preamble) constitution was presented. Details were attended to, and further compromises were effected.
Several of the delegates were disappointed in the result, a makeshift series of unfortunate compromises. Some delegates left before the ceremony, and three others refused to sign. Of the thirty- nine signers, Benjamin Franklin summed up, addressing the Convention: . Their accepted formula for the closing endorsement was . Each state legislature was to call elections for a .
They expanded the franchise beyond the Constitutional requirement to more nearly embrace . Eleven ratified in 1. The Congress of the Confederation certified eleven states to begin the new government, and called the states to hold elections to begin operation. It then dissolved itself on March 4, 1. Congress of the United States began.
George Washington was inaugurated as President two months later. The document that the Philadelphia Convention presented was technically only a revision of the Articles of Confederation. But the last article of the new instrument provided that when ratified by conventions in nine states (or two- thirds at the time), it should go into effect among the States so acting.
Then followed an arduous process of ratification of the Constitution by specially constituted conventions. The need for only nine states' approval was a controversial decision at the time, since the Articles of Confederation could only be amended by unanimous vote of all the states. Three members of the Convention – Madison, Gorham, and King – were also Members of Congress.
They proceeded at once to New York, where Congress was in session, to placate the expected opposition. Aware of their vanishing authority, Congress, on September 2. Constitution to the States for action, . Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, under the name of Publius, wrote a series of commentaries, now known as The Federalist Papers, in support of ratification in the state of New York, at that time a hotbed of anti- Federalism. These commentaries on the Constitution, written during the struggle for ratification, have been frequently cited by the Supreme Court as an authoritative contemporary interpretation of the meaning of its provisions. The dispute over additional powers for the central government was close, and in some states ratification was effected only after a bitter struggle in the state convention itself. The Continental Congress – which still functioned at irregular intervals – passed a resolution on September 1.
Constitution into operation with eleven states. These were associated with the combination of consolidated government along with federal relationships with constituent states. The Due Process Clause of the Constitution was partly based on common law and on Magna Carta (1.
English liberty against arbitrary power wielded by a ruler. Among the most prominent political theorists of the late eighteenth century were William Blackstone, John Locke, and Montesquieu. In his Institutes of the Lawes of England, Edward Coke interpreted Magna Carta protections and rights to apply not just to nobles, but to all British subjects.
In writing the Virginia Charter of 1. King in Parliament to give those to be born in the colonies all rights and liberties as though they were born in England. William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England were the most influential books on law in the new republic. British political philosopher John Locke following the Glorious Revolution (1.