Constitution of the United States
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Search and analyze the the full-text of the Constitution of the United States. The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. It was adopted in its original form on September 17, 1787 by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and later ratified by the people in conventions in each state in the name of "We the People." The Constitution has a central place in American law and political culture. It is the oldest written constitution for an independent state in effect in the world. The text is extremely useful in a searchable eBook.
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More About the State of the Constitution of the United States of America:
- Learn more about the Constitution on the National Archives Constitution Page or at Wikipedia - United States Constitution page.
- Background: Ratified in 1781, the Articles of Confederation served as the governing document for the new nation. There was only one branch of government--the legislative--under the Articles, and all states had to approve any amendments to the Articles. These and other problems led Congress to establish a Constitutional Convention in the summer of 1787 in Philadelphia to improve the Articles of Confederation.
- Constitutional Convention: Instead of amending or changing the Articles of Confederation, the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention rewrote the Articles and created a new Constitution. Thirty-nine of the delegates signed the new Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787. Three fourths or nine of the states were required to ratify or approve the Constitution. Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution on December 7, 1787. New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution in June 1788.
- Bill of Rights: James Madison proposed several amendments or changes to the Constitution. These amendments focused on basic freedoms, such as freedom of speech. Ten of these amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, were approved by the states. Today there are 27 amendments to the Constitution. Changing the Constitution through an amendment requires the approval of three fourths of the states. The United States Constitution is the oldest enduring written national Constitution.
- Organization: The Constitution includes an introduction, called the Preamble, followed by several divisions known as Articles. The first Article gives the power to make laws to the House of Representatives and the Senate. The second Article gives the President executive power. The third Article gives the courts judicial power and makes the Supreme Court the final court of appeal for federal and state courts. Other Articles focus on the relationships between the states and procedures for changing or amending the Constitution.
- Prior to 1934 the annual message was delivered in December. The ratification of Amendment XX on January 23, 1933 changed the opening of Congress from early March to early January, affecting the delivery of the annual message. Since 1934, the message or address has been delivered to Congress in January or February. Today, the speech is typically delivered on the last Tuesday in January, although there is no such provision written in law, and it varies from year to year.
- Last Modified: March 13, 2007.