September 17, 1787
Here it was, four years after independence had been won by the colonies, (the Treaty of Paris was signed Sept. 3, 1783) when this pronouncement was made,
It appears to me then little short of a miracle that the delegates from so many different states… should unite in forming a system of national government…”George Washington, delegate to the Convention in Philadelphia, September 1787
Fifty-five men, from twelve colonies, (Rhode Island did not send representatives) had just spent months of debate (May – September), in the Pennsylvania Statehouse, located in Philadelphia, during the heat of summer, to produce a federal system of government that included checks and balances. Their finished product was called the Constitution of the United States. This was the miracle to which George Washington referred.
It was apparent in 1786, two years after the Revolutionary War ended that the Union would break apart without a fix to the standing national government called The Articles of Confederation. This document had been drafted during the War by the Continental Congress to help guide the colonies through war and provide some sort of central government. It was obvious now, something more needed to be done for the sake of the new, fledgling nation.
At the pleading of the Annapolis Convention, (5 states with Maryland) in 1786, a Convention was called for in Philadelphia, May, 1787. On May 25, 1787, what we call the Constitutional Convention met with those fifty-five delgates at the statehouse in Philadelphia. Their intended purpose was to amend The Articles of Confederation.
After some time, it was clear that amending the Articles was to be scrapped. Something new had to be created. In this closed meeting house, with windows and doors shut tight for privacy (and sweating in wool coats and vests), without AC, these partiots hammered out the structure, form, and substance of our federal government. They built consensus, offered compromise, all within secrecy and never even threw a punch! (now that’s a miracle!)
Alexander Hamiliton, one of the delegates writes,
For my own part, I sincerely esteem it a system which without the finger of God (Luke 11:20) never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests.”Alexander Hamiliton, upon the signing of the Constitution
James Madison, another delegate, writes,
It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it the finger of that Almighty Hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the Revolution.”James Madison, upon signing the Constitution
What these men came up with, our Constitution, is what governs our land now. It is what has inspired and modeled for other nations their constitution. The similiarities between ours and theirs is often identical in wording.
This document, the Constitution, was signed by thirty nine of the delegates on September 17, 1787, and as per the specification in the Constitution, later ratified by nine of the thirteen colonies to become effective. New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify it on June 21, 1788. It was agreed upon that this new government would begin March 4, 1789. (Which is why Inaguration Day was in March for so many years. In 1981 it was changed to January 20.)
Our Constitution provides for:
- 3 Branches of government
- Legislative/Congress – make laws, checks on other branches
- Executive/President – manages daily operations of the government, checks on other branches, enforces the laws
- Judicial/Federal courts, Supreme Court – courts, judges, checks on the other branches, makes sure the laws are constitutional
- Personal freedoms as stated in the Bill of Rights/first 10 amendments
- Ways to amend or change the Constitution
- Separation between the federal and state powers
- all the qualifications for elections, candidates, how laws are made, where money comes from, treaties, citizenship, emprisonment, trails, searches and seizures, how a republic is run
- and so much more
This document, our Constitution, has been and continues to be the “the law of the land”. All federal employees, military personal and so many other employees, upon entering their positions take an oath “to faithfully defend the Constitution”.
It is sacred, above all other ideologies, and worth every effort of patriots to defend. It is the law of our land, not immutable however, as provisions to change it are also addressed.
What the founding fathers and the framers created is a clearly laid out form and structure for our government. It has come under much scrutiny, debate and with much compromise and it still stands today, as Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration says, ” as much the work of a Divine Providence as any of the miracles recorded in the Old and New Testament were the effects of a Divine power.”
It behooves us then, We The People, to stand in the spirit of those patriots- who pledged their best hopes, strongest intellectual pursuits, and good faith in the creation of that Constitution, to do the same.
On this Constitution Day, 2022, 235 years after it’s signing, may we fully understand and promote, but also strongly defend The Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
In keeping with this challenge to understand, and leading up to the elections in 8 weeks, I will be presenting a 4 week follow-up refresher on The Constitution, walking us through the body of the Constitution, and examining the parts. They will be as follows:
- Week 1 – The Preamble & Articles 1-3 Legislative, Executive & Judicial Branches
- Week 2 – Articles 4-7 –
- Week 3 – The Amendments, 1-10 The Bill of Rights
- Week 4 – The Amendments, 11-27
You can see original copies of The Constitution, The Bill of Rights and The Declaration of Indepenence at The National Archives in Washington D.C.
I hope you will sharpen your understanding and appreciation of this great document and our great nation and check back in to join us in that endeavor.
God Bless America,
Britannica – The Constitutional Convention
National Archives – The Framers