Like many of you, I am looking forward to the upcoming three-day weekend for extra rest and relaxation. It is also the time of year when I like to remind myself of the reasons for Independence Day, and to take a walk down history lane before heading out to the beach.
When a friend of mine studied for her U.S. citizenship test several years ago, I realized she knew more about our country’s Constitution than I did. Since then, each year at this time I remind myself of the basis that formed the country.
On July 4, the United States will celebrate its 239th birthday.
For many U.S. citizens, the Declaration of Independence is still one of the most revered documents, while there are others who never read it.
After the revolutionary war (1775-1783), it took the newly formed country until 1787 to charter what became the Constitution of the United States. The first time I saw the actual document was on a family trip to Washington, D.C. in 1980. Not yet into double digits, I did not know much about it except from discussions with my parents who told me it was important.
During the nearly two and a half centuries since its inception, there have been many ups and downs, good and bad times, and plenty of challenges to the laws of the land. Even in just the first six months of this calendar year, the U.S. is experiencing turbulence and controversy generating incredible discussions, rallies, and changes to traditions. People can have an opinion and voice it.
In drafting the Constitution, which focuses on the government of the country (legislative, executive, and judicial), opponents charged that the document would open the way to tyranny by the central government. They wanted the immunities of the individual citizens acknowledged.
It was in September of 1789 when the First Congress of the U.S. proposed to the state legislatures 12 amendments to the Constitution that met arguments most frequently advanced against it. The first two proposed amendments were not ratified, but Articles 3 to 12 were. These first 10 amendments of the Constitution are known as the original Bill of Rights.
For the full text of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights, visit the Charters of Freedom site on the U.S. Archives website http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/.
Be safe and enjoy the Holiday weekend.
Opening of the Constitution of the United States
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.