“We, the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish the Constitution of the United States of America.” ~The Preamble to the Constitution
The United States Constitution is the oldest working constitution in the world, standing as a model of cooperation and compromise for over 200 years. Written into this document is the combined wisdom of some of the brightest minds in American history, who not only had a beautiful command of the English language but also a great love of their country. Constitution Day is a good time for people of all ages to learn about the principles upon which our nation was founded.
In May of 1787, fifty-five delegates from thirteen states gathered for the Constitutional Convention at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. America had just won its independence from England. The states were working together under a loose agreement called the Articles of Confederation, but the Founding Fathers decided to create a Constitution that would be the basis of our federal government. George Washington was chosen as president of the Convention. Among the delegates were Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.
On September 17, 1787, the delegates signed the Constitution of the United States of America. The first ten amendments were adopted in 1791 to further public confidence in the government and prevent abuse of its powers. Called the Bill of Rights, they establish the basic freedoms of Americans and protect the rights of individual citizens. For example, the First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion, speech, and the press. The Second Amendment guarantees the right of the people to own and bear firearms.
The Constitution is the highest law of the land. The framers specifically stated in the body of the document that its provisions supersede any other law. No act of government, no law passed by Congress, and no law in any city, state, or town can conflict with the Constitution. The framers did not want the government to have absolute power, however, so they limited the powers of the central government and left some powers to the states. Each of the branches of government checks and balances the others. And finally, in order to protect the people’s right to self-government, any changes in the Constitution are limited by a strict set of guidelines.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Study the Constitution! Let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in the legislatures, and enforced by the courts of justice.”
Whitten Printers of Phoenix produces a pocket-sized Citizens Rule Book which contains the Constitution and Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, quotes by Founding Fathers, and more. It’s available for only $1.00 each. Hand them out to family, friends, community groups, co-workers. Order online at www.HomeschoolPatriot.com.
Read Constitution Day: The Forgotten History of the Celebration of America’s Founding Document – An informative article on the history of this holiday covering everything from where it was first celebrated to how it was originally called “I am an American Day” and “American Citizenship Day” to honor naturalized citizens of our country.
Hillsdale College offers its popular Constitution 101 course for FREE! Study and understand the Constitution like never before in Hillsdale College’s online course, Constitution 101: The Meaning and History of the Constitution.
A landmark work of more than one hundred scholars, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution is a line-by-line analysis explaining every clause of America’s founding charter and its contemporary meaning. The digital edition is available for free.
Impress your friends by memorizing the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Download and print a copy of The Preamble, a memory activity, memorization tips, vocabulary, and Constitutional Quotations for Copywork (4 pages total) at this link:
Watch “A More Perfect Union: America Becomes a Nation” (1989, 112 min.), a gripping account of the Federal Convention of 1787. This 2-hour movie re-creates in great detail those stirring, heated debates at the Constitutional Convention during the sweltering summer of 1787. Filmed on location at Independence Hall, Williamsburg, Virginia, and other historical sites, this award-winning film dramatically chronicles how America became a nation and those underlying principles that guard our freedoms.
“Miracles do not cluster. Hold on to the Constitution of the United States of America and the Republic for which it stands—what has happened once in six thousand years may never happen again. Hold on to your Constitution, for if the American Constitution shall fail there will be anarchy throughout the world.” ~Daniel Webster