How nice to have something good to write about in history today. And indeed it is. Today is what is called “Constitution Day.” And why the name? On this day in 1787, the delegates met and signed the final version of the constitution. This is the document that sets the U.S. apart from other countries in the world. No, I do not mean that other countries don’t have constitutions, but our constitution is a very special document that makes our country what it is.
Our constitution took quite a journey to get in its final form. The Articles of Confederation came first. But they knew they needed something to truly bind everyone together as a country. The Declaration of Independence had done its duty.
Seventy-four delegates were chosen in 1786 to attend the Constitutional Convention. Only fifty-five actually came to meetings, and Rhode Island refused to sent anyone. The delegates discussed many forms of government including the British government. The small and large states really did have their differences, and getting them to agree that everything was fair was not to be. There was true deadlock by June of that year, and George Washington really struggled.
On Monday, August 6, 1787, the first draft of the the constitution was finally available. It included many compromises, but there were still serious disagreements. Especially in the area of commerce. That led to another sharp disagreement–slavery.
Thankfully, the delegates were so exhausted in the early days of September 1787 that the delegates were again extremely willing to compromise. The day before the final draft came about, it was suggested that amendments be allowed within certain parameters. We can certainly be glad for that, can’t we? Where would we be without amendments like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, women’s right to vote, African American right to vote, and more.
The delegates had their final meeting on this day in 1787, and the constitution was signed. Ratification was the next thing that had to be taken care of. Thankfully, since the more prestigious and well-known delegates supported the document, it was assumed that ratification would be relatively easy. Nine states had to ratify it, and it took a lot of campaigning on the part of many of the delegates. It was ratified finally on July 2, 1788.
All I can say is that I hope this important document is never thrown out. While it is not perfect, it is one of those documents that makes America the great nation she is. May we not forget the sacrifices of our forefathers so we may have the freedom we sometimes take for granted in this country.
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For something a little different, check out the interactive constitution.