The framers knew that liberty is a fragile thing, and so should we.”William J. Brennan
A primary object… should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing… than… communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?’George Washington
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”Ronald Reagan
So, here we are passing it on, communicating it, because it is our pressing duty to pass on the knowledge of America’s fragile freedom.
In this review we will look at the last four Articles of the US Constitution. (Previously we reviewed the first three, The Preamble, and The Constitutional Convention. You can read those for a full picture of our review.)
Remember, there are seven Articles to the Constituion. The first three deal with our structure of government – the Three Branches: Article I- Legisative, Article II- Executive and Article III- Judiciary.
Article IV contains four sections and deals with how states are to relate with one another. It contains the famous “Full Faith and Credit” Clause. This means that every state has to recognize the laws and court decisions of the other states. It is because of this clause that states can make differing laws which may be contradictory from other states. ie: same-sex marriage, abortion, etc.
Article V spells out four intentionally complicated ways in which the Constitution can be changed or ammended. The two most used ways are:
- a proposal by 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress
- ratification by 3/4 of the state legislatures
Since the ratification of the Constitution in 1791 there have been 5,000 amendments introduced. Only 33 have received 2/3 vote in Congress and only 27 made it all the way through to become part of the Constitution. Of those 27, the first 10, called The Bill of Rights were voted on together, as a set in 1791, which means that only 17 amendments to the Constitution have been made from 1791 to present day. That’s 231 years!! Amazing. It must be working then, to make a “more perfect Union”. Right?
Article VI gains it’s fame from it’s “Supremacy Clause” which states that the Constitution is the supreme law of our land. It also clarifies that federal law is above state law and international treaties are above state law. Additionally, herein lies the issue of national debt.
Article VII stipulates the ratification process for the Constitution. Of the 13 states, 9 shall approve the document to make it legally binding.
It is interesting to note, that all 13 states eventually ratified the document, but it was not without a long battle with Rhode Island. (Remember too, it was Rhode Island who failed to send a delegation to the Constitutional Convention. Hmmmm, I guess the “Hope” state was holding out hope???)
Following the 7th Article you will find the signature of George Washington – President (of the convention), deputy from Virginia.
Following his signature is a list of the states present, with their representatives names listed. Twelve states, 38 representatives are named in the document. Some of the names you may recognize:
- Alexander Hamilton
- Roger Sherman
- Benjamin Franklin
- Robert Morris
- James Madison
What these men created, a brand new form of representative government based on the will of the people is truely remarkable. To have the forethought and understanding of not only law, government but also people’s wishes for freedom and liberty surely must have come from a higher Source. Our Constitution is a gift for the generations.
Have you gotten your copy of the Constitution yet or gone online to check it out and make sure I am not telling you falsehoods? ha ha
Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.”Eleanor Roosevelt
Next week we will address the first 10 Amendments- The Bill of Rights.
Let freedom ring!