A Lasting Legacy The Constitution of the United States of America



There are some historical documents that define the governance of a country. In the United States, we consider the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights as the foundation of our system of government. However, with regards to determining the legality of any proposed legislation, the ultimate determiner in our country is the Constitution of the United States of America.

Because of the importance of the Constitution, the highest government body charged with its interpretation and implementation is the country’s Supreme Court. So powerful is the Constitution such that any legislation or government policy can be revoked if it has been proven to be unconstitutional.

The Constitution was ratified on September 17, 1787, at the Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia. Without a doubt, some the most intelligent men of all time had been the framers of this Constitution. How else can you explain how the document can still hold the same power and relevance more than two hundred years after its creation? The original Constitution has been carefully preserved and displayed in Washington, DC, and counts as the oldest existing document of its type in the world.

The Constitution drew inspiration from varied ideological sources. Some principles were influenced by the Magna Carta, the writings of French philosopher Montesquieu, the Code of Hammurabi, the law of the Old Testament and the Common Law of England. Others were derived from the writings of ancient Greek philosophers such as Polybius. The result was a one-of-a-kind body of laws that has been termed “The Great American Experiment.”

The seven ‘articles’ making up the Constitution deal individually with the different sectors of the government. Articles one, two, and three, deal respectively with the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. The details of the powers and rights of the state are dealt with in article four. The framers recognized the importance of retaining the rights of governance of the state and local government bodies by incorporating them in the Constitution.

The other articles of the Constitution were about the scope of federal power and the ratification process of the Constitution itself. To give room for future amendments, the fifth article established a process to be followed for amendments. This particular article is the main reason why the Constitution continues to be regarded as a living document that is expected to continue illuminating the leaders and citizens of the country for generations to come.

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