Constitution Week: Establishing government's foundation
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the country. It is the framework for the organization of the country’s government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens and all people within the United States.
After the Preamble verbalizes the desires of the writers of the Constitution, the articles of the Constitution establish the law of the United States of America and branches of the national government.
The first three articles establish the three branches of the national government: a legislature (Congress), an executive branch led by the president, and a judicial branch headed by the Supreme Court.
Article 1: Creates the two parts of Congress: The House of Representatives and the Senate.
Article 2: Creates the job of president, called the executive. It establishes the office of the president and the vice president and spells out the president’s duties. He will be the commander in chief of the Army and the Navy.
Article 3: Establishes judges, called the judiciary. It establishes the Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States. This branch will decide whether Congress and the president are doing what the Constitution tells them to do.
Article 4: States rights: All states will honor the laws of all other states. It ensures a “power by the people” government. The United States government will protect each state against invasion and against riots or revolution.
Article 5: Describes the process for proposing and ratifying amendments to the Constitution. Amendments may be proposed by either two-thirds of both houses of Congress or by a national convention.
Article 6: Concerns the United States. It guarantees that the Constitution and all laws and treaties of the United States will be the supreme law of the country.
Article 7: Explains how the Constitution was agreed to. Of the original 13 states in the United States, nine had to accept the Constitution before it would officially go into effect.
Once the Constitution had been finalized, it was sent to the states for ratification. However, some of the states criticized it, opposed it and insisted on having people’s rights stated clearly before they would ratify the Constitution. They argued that the Constitution created an overly powerful central government that could abuse the rights of citizens and criticized the Framers for failing to include a bill of rights.
To win over the opposition, the supporters added a Bill of Rights to the document, which was ratified by 1791. Only nine states had to ratify the Constitution in order for it to take effect, but eventually all 13 states did. North Carolina was the 12th state to ratify the Constitution. This Constitution created the United States of America as a democratic republic.
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Submitted by the Elizabeth Maxwell Steele Chapter of the DAR. The chapter encourages everyone to take time during Constitution Week to reflect on our heritage of freedom.