Today marks the day the U.S. Constitution was ratified: June 21, 1788. New Hampshire became the ninth of thirteen states to ratify the unique document that established one government over the sovereign colonies of the American continent.
Written in 115 days by representatives from 13 American colonies in 1787, it took less than a year to meet the criteria in Article VII and establish the U.S. Constitution as the rule of law.
After ratification in June, Congress set dates for the first federal elections to occur from Monday, December 15, 1788, to Saturday, January 10, 1789. The new government was to convene on March 4, 1789.
Unique among political documents of its time, the U.S. Constitution established a Republic with a separation of powers in three distinct areas: Legislative powers to craft the laws, Executive powers to execute the laws, and Judicial powers to review and decide whether laws and lawsuits were compliant and consistent with the U.S. Constitution. A Bill of Rights was added to the original Constitution to ensure the rights of the people were not trampled in the pursuit of governing them.
These separations of powers were tools embedded in the Constitution to design, build, and correct the Ship of State known as the United States of America. With a duty to comport themselves within the powers and responsibilities of the Constitution, the Ship of State set sail.
An imperfect and correctable document by today’s standards. It was established to manage the affairs of 13 states to act as one entity in the late 1700s in an agrarian society. Flash forward to today, where the Constitution is the foundation of an American Empire that leads the world in Democracy through a mix of authoritarian and representative powers to ensure the world is safe from emboldened autocracies.
The federal government’s legitimacy to rule over individual states’ sovereignty has been tested several times. The Civil War was the most severe test of federal government powers in American history, and the Civil Rights movement of the 60s was the toughest test of the Bill of Rights. Each of these tests caused the United States of America to evolve into its status as the leader of the free world.
The testing of America’s democracy continues today. It may be 233 years old, but there’s plenty of American fight left to prevent tyranny by law, tyranny by government institutions, and tyranny by autocrats. Each tyranny wishes to usurp the powers of the Constitution of the United States of America for themselves.
Let’s honor the ratification of the Constitution today by remembering these words:
“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.”
It’s the law we live by.