21 June 1788 the US Constitution came into effect as the 9th state ratified it. The Constitution is great document, but it didn’t spring, supported by all, from the minds of a few patriots. After the Revolutionary War ended a Convention met at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on May 14, 1787, to revise the Articles of Confederation. Because the delegations from only two states were at first present, the members adjourned from day to day until a quorum of seven states was obtained on May 25. It became clear by mid-June that, rather than amend the existing Articles, the Convention would draft an entirely new frame of government. Through the summer the delegates debated and drafted the articles of the new Constitution. Among the chief points at issue were how much power to allow the central government, how many representatives in Congress to allow each state, and how these representatives should be elected–directly by the people or by the state legislators. The work of many minds, the Constitution stands as a model of cooperative statesmanship and the art of compromise. Slavery was one of the compromises.
Our Constitution is the supreme law of the land. There is a huge question today about our Constitution: is the constitution nothing more or less than the actual words of the constitution—as amended? It was made intentionally hard to change—an amendment requires a super majority in both houses of congress and approval by 3/5 of the states; the authors meant the words they wrote. OR is the constitution a “living document” that can and should be changed by the opinions of unelected justices as time goes on—this to preclude the timely process of amendments? Today our Constitution is seen as a “living document” and the actual words have little meaning—I believe that this is a huge mistake.
Anyway, Happy Birthday, US Constitution—whatever you are.