Constitution and Bill of Rights

Constitution and Bill of Rights - Constitution & Bill of...

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The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America . It was completed on September 17 , 1787 , with its adoption by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania , and was later ratified by special conventions in each state . It created a federal union of sovereign states, and a federal government to operate that union. It replaced the less defined union that had existed under the Articles of Confederation . It took effect in 1789 and has served as a model for the constitutions of numerous other nations . The Constitution of the United States of America is the oldest written national constitution in use. History Main article: History of the United States Constitution During the Revolutionary War , the thirteen states first formed a very weak central government —with the Congress being its only component—under the Articles of Confederation . Congress lacked any power to impose taxes , and, because there was no national executive or judiciary , relied on state authorities, who were often uncooperative, to enforce all of its acts. It also had no authority to override tax laws and tariffs between states. The Articles required unanimous consent from all the states before they could be amended and states took the central government so lightly that their representatives were often absent. For lack of a quorum , Congress was frequently blocked from making even moderate changes. In September 1786, commissioners from five states met in the Annapolis Convention to discuss adjustments to the Articles of Confederation that would improve commerce. They invited state representatives to convene in Philadelphia to discuss improvements to the federal government. After debate, the Confederation Congress endorsed the plan to revise the Articles of Confederation on February 21 , 1787 . Twelve states, Rhode Island being the only exception, accepted this invitation and sent delegates to convene in May 1787. The resolution calling the Convention specified its purpose was to propose amendments to the Articles, but the Convention decided to propose a rewritten Constitution. The Philadelphia Convention voted to keep deliberations secret and decided to draft a new fundamental government design which eventually stipulated that only 9 of the 13 states would have to ratify for the new government to go into effect. These actions were criticized by some as exceeding the convention's mandate and existing law. However, Congress, noting dissatisfaction with the Articles of Confederation government, unanimously agreed to submit the proposal to the states despite what some perceived as the exceeded terms of reference. On September 17 , 1787 , the Constitution was completed in Philadelphia, and the new government it prescribed came into existence on March 4 , 1789 , after fierce fights over ratification in many of the states. The original transcribed copy of the Constitution is on permanent display at the
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This note was uploaded on 05/01/2008 for the course POLISCI 101 taught by Professor Laraja during the Spring '08 term at UMass (Amherst).

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Constitution and Bill of Rights - Constitution & Bill of...

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