When was the last time you read the American Constitution in its entirety? If you haven’t in the past five or ten years, you should. And, my recommendation is that you read it without all the “interpretations.” Reading from the preamble to the end of the 27th amendment will take, if you are an average reader, 30 minutes. That’s the good news. Here’s a link – https://constitutionus.com.
The bad news is that the clarity of thought should start your mind working. The document was written during the Constitutional Convention that took place from May 25th to September 17th, 1787. It was an effort to replace the Articles of Confederation that was ratified during the American Revolution and was found to be unworkable.
When the Constitution Convention was convened, the country was mired in a recession and every one of the members had lived through the Revolutionary War but also the British rule that preceded it. Those life experiences and a desire to create a strong Federal Government that was responsive to the will of the governed colored their thinking. Throughout the document, simplicity of the language and the clarity of thought is amazing.
In 10 clearly written articles, the Founding Fathers laid out their vision of a new government that never before existed. To make the Constitution the “law of the land,” nine of the original 13 Colonies had to ratify it. Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania quickly voted for the document immediately. Before it would ratify the Constitution, Massachusetts needed to be assured that it would be quickly amended to ensure certain individual rights which became first 10 Amendments known as the Bill of Rights.
After Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina and Virginia ratified it to make it eight. New Hampshire’s ratification on June 28th, 1789 led to an agreement that the Constitution would take effect on March 4th, 1789. The remaining colonies – New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island followed.
In a referendum held on March 24th, 1788, the people of Rhode Island overwhelmingly voted against ratification. Two plus years later, on May 29th, 1790 after the Constitution was adopted by the other 12 states, Rhode Island’s legislature ratified it with a margin of two votes.
In the 230 years since the document was signed, it has been modified only 27 times. One amendment (the 21st) repeals the 18th (Prohibition of Intoxicating Liquors).
The U.S. Constitution is the oldest in force document of its kind in the world. Some may argue that the Magna Carta holds that crown, but while it has many of the same elements, it does not lay out the structure of a democratically elected government that has stood the test of time.
By contrast, France, which had a major role in helping us win our independence has had 16 constitutions since Louis XIV lost his head during the French Revolution. One French Constitution – Acte Additionel – was in effect for only 21 days in 1835.
In the oath of office that members of the military and every elected Federal official takes, there is the phrase, “I swear I will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States to the best of my ability…. Listening to many campaigning for Congress and the Presidency, it is very clear that they have not read the Constitution recently or their sound bites would be different.