the united states constitution. facts about the constitution

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The United States Constitution

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The United States Constitution

Facts about the


• The Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

• It sets up the government and protects the basic rights of Americans.

• The Constitution was written after the American War of Independence (the Revolutionary War).

• It was drafted in 1787.

• The Federalist Papers are a group of essays that supported the Constitution.

• The Federalist Papers were written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay.

• They were published in 1788.

• People did not want another “bossy” government; the papers supported the necessity of having the Constitution

• The Federalist Papers are still used today.

• The federal government only has the powers that the Constitution says it has.

• The states have the powers that the federal government does not have.

• The Constitution separates the government into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial.

• Changes to the Constitution are Amendments. There are currently 27 amendments to the Constitution.

• There are 7 (VII) Articles in the Constitution.

The Preamble

• The Preambles is a short statement about the purpose of the Constitution.

• The Preamble does not prohibit actions or grant rights.

"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 this Constitution for the United States of America."

The Articles of Confederation

• The Continental Congress wrote the Articles of Confederation during the Revolutionary War.

• written to give the colonies some

sense of a unified government

BUT once the 13 colonies became the 13 states, each one began to act alone in its own best interest (= not good)

a new document was needed for these new states to act together and become a nation.

• The Articles of Confederation became effective on March 1, 1781, after all thirteen states had ratified/approved them.

• The Articles made the states and legislature supreme/ultimate/top in power.

There was no executive branch.

Judicial functions were very limited.

• The resulting government was weak and efforts to make it stronger failed.

• A convention called/organized in May 1787 to re-write the Articles decided to draft an entirely new Constitution.

The Amendments

• Amendments (changes to the law) are written because of changes in our society; they keep our Constitution relevant/representative of our current time.

•There are 27 amendments to the Constitution.

• The first 10 amendments are known as The Bill of Rights; they deal with specific freedoms that represent the whole theme of the Constitution.

The Bill of Rights were added in 1791.

The Amendments

• Amendments 15, 19, 23, and 26 give the right to vote to all citizens (blacks, women, 18-year-olds, citizens of Washington D.C.)

•Amendment 24 eliminates/takes away poll taxes.

• Amendments 12, 17, 20, 22 and 25 deal with how we select the president, vice-president and Congress.

•The other amendments deal with separate issues, like stopping slavery (#15) and defining citizenship (#14).

The Amendments

• New amendments are proposed/presented every year, but it is a long process that sometimes is not successful.The last amendment (#27) was added in 1992.

Proposal: presentation to Congress

Ratification: approval process

Act of Congress: the Senate and House must pass 2/3 vote to approve a proposal; then, 3/4 of state legislatures/governments must ratify/approve it in the next 7 years (38 states must approve)

The Amendments