Constitution 3 Essay, Research Paper
The American Constitution
The basis of all law in the United States is the Constitution. This Constitution is a document written by “outcasts” of England. The Constitution of the United States sets forth the nation’s fundamental laws. It establishes the form of the national government and defines the rights and liberties of the American people. It also lists the aims of the government and the methods of achieving them.
The Constitution was written to organize a strong national government for the American states. Previously, the nation’s leaders had established a national government under the Articles of Confederation. But the Articles granted independence to each state. They lacked the authority to make the states work together to solve national problems.
After the states won independence in the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), they faced the problems of peacetime government. The states had to enforce law and order, collect taxes, pay a large public debt, and regulate trade among them. They also had to deal with Indian tribes and negotiate with other governments. Leading statesmen, such as George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, began to discuss the creation of a strong national government under a new constitution.
The Writing of the Constitution
A constitution is the legal structure of our political system, establishing governmental bodies, determining how their members are selected, and prescribing the rules by which they make their decisions.
The nation s founders, fifty-five men, met in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 to write a new constitution and to form a new government. George Washington was elected chairman of the convention. The founders were all very well educated. Over half the delegates had collage degrees, which was rare in the North American continent at that time.
They also had experience in governing. More than forty of the delegates held high offices in state governments, including three who were governors. The founders believed in the idea that the purpose of government was the protection of individual life, liberty and property.
Following the election of George Washington as president of the convention, Governor Edmund Randolph of Virginia presented a draft of a new constitution .The Virginia Plan proposed a two-house legislature. A lower house directly elected by the people of the states based on the population, and an upper house elected by the lower house. The congress was to have broad legislative power; with veto over laws passed by state legislatures .The President and cabinet would be elected by legislature. The national judiciary would be elected by legislature, and there would be Council of Revision with power to veto laws of Congress.
Delegates from New Jersey, New York and Delaware did not agree to the Virginia Plan due to the great power delegated to the national government. William Paterson of New Jersey submitted a counterproposal .The New Jersey Plan proposed a one-house legislature, with equal state representation regardless of population. Congress had some legislative power, including levying some taxes and the regulation of commerce. The plan also proposed separate executive and judicial branches, elected by Congress and removable by petition from majority of state governors. The judiciary was appointed by the chief executive .The plan also included the supremacy clause, stating that the Constitution and federal laws would supersede over state constitutions and laws.
After several months of debate, Roger Sherman of Connecticut came forward with a compromise. The Connecticut Compromise proposed a two-house legislature, with numerical representation in the directly elected House and equal state representation in the indirectly elected Senate. It also gave Congress broad legislative power, including the power to levy taxes and to regulate commerce. It proposed a single executive, chosen by an Electoral College .The judiciary would be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate .It also included the Supremacy Clause. This compromise was approved by the convention on the 16th of July 1787.
Over time, constitutional changes have come about as a result of formal amendments, judicial interpretations, and presidential and congressional actions. The most common method of constitutional amendment has been proposal by two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress followed by ratification by three-fourths of the states. In my opinion, two of the most important amendments to the constitution are the Fifteenth Amendment (1870): the right to vote shall not be denied because of race, and the Nineteenth Amendment (1920): the right to vote shall not be denied because of sex.
In the future, the constitution will continue to be changed and modified, hopefully for the good of the American People.