Sept. 17 Is U.S. Constitution Day
Have you ever read the Constitution? Do you really understand your rights and the roles of the president, Congress and Supreme Court?
Today, Sept. 17, is a day to celebrate something that most of us take for granted—the U.S. Constitution.
The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, declaring America's independence from Great Britain. But it took another 11 years to hammer out the new government.
It's been 225 years since the delegates to the Constitutional Convention met for the last time on September 17, 1787 to sign the document they had created.
Most people know the preamble to the Constitution: "We, the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
To read the Constitution, click here.
The amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, didn't come along until Dec. 15, 1791. At the time the Constitution was adopted, many of the states expressed a desire to add further declaratory and restrictive clauses in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers.
To read the Bill of Rights, click here.
The ConstitutionFacts.com website lists some little known facts about the Constitution. Here's one of interest as the Voter ID law controversy continues.
The Constitution does not set forth requirements for the right to vote. At the outset of the Union, only male property-owners could vote.
African Americans were not considered citizens, and women were excluded from the electoral process until the 19th Amendment passed Aug. 26, 1920. Native Americans were not given the right to vote until the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924.
The 15th Amendment granted African American men the right to vote on February 3, 1870, yet that promise would not be fully realized for almost a century.
Through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests and other means, Southern states were able to effectively disenfranchise African Americans. It would take the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 before the majority of African Americans in the South were registered to vote.
To see some other Constitution trivia, click here.
In the political climate of today, it's interesting to look at how the signers of the Constitution had to compromise in order to create the document:
Benjamin Franklin, at age 81 the oldest person to sign the document, said in 1787: “I confess that there are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them. For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.”