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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Constitution Week

This week is Constitution Week.
Our United States Constitution is the framework of our government. The first three Articles of the Constitution establish the three branches of the national government: legislative, executive, judicial.

The Constitutional Convention took place from May 14 to September 17, 1787, in Philadelphia, PA, to address problems in governing the new United States of America, which had been operating under the Articles of Confederation following our break from Great Britain. Each state legislature was invited to send delegates to a convention and 12 of the 13 states sent delegates (Rhode Island didn't).

Due to the difficulty of travel in the late 18th century, very few of the selected delegates were present on the designated day of May 14, 1787, and it was not until May 25 that a quorum was achieved. George Washington was unanimously elected Convention President. James Madison took extensive notes and later published them in the Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787. He was early to the Convention so he spent his time sketching out his plan, called the Virginia Plan. He was able to assemble a coalition behind his plan. Other plans didn't have the support that Madison's did.

By the end of June, debate between the large and small states over the issue of representation in the first chamber of the legislature was becoming increasingly acrimonious. Delegates from Virginia and other large states demanded that voting in Congress be according to population; representatives of smaller states insisted upon the equality they had enjoyed under the articles. With the oratory degenerating into threats and accusations, Benjamin Franklin appealed for daily prayers.

On Monday August 6, 1787, the convention accepted the first draft of the Constitution. By September, with the exhausted delegates anxious to return home, compromise came easily. On September 8 the convention was ready to turn the Constitution over to a Committee of Style and Arrangement. The Constitution was presented to the convention on September 12, and the delegates methodically began to consider each section. On September 15 they began to vote.On September 17 the members met for the last time, and Benjamin Franklin had written a speech that was delivered by James Wilson.Weary from weeks of intense pressure but generally satisfied with their work, the delegates shared a farewell dinner at City Tavern. Two blocks away on Market Street, printers John Dunlap and David Claypoole worked into the night on the final imprint of the six-page Constitution, copies which left Philadelphia on the morning stage.

Next, the states had to review, discuss and ratify it. A debate began between Federalists (who supported a Federal government as designed in the new Constitution) and anti-Federalists. Anti-Federalists were afraid the federal government would usurp state sovereignty, and that a bill of rights was needed which would guarantee individual liberties such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion. A bill of rights had been barely mentioned in the Philadelphia convention, most delegates holding that fundamental rights of individuals were secured in the state constitutions. Now it became an important debate. Thomas Jefferson, generally in favor of the new government, wrote to Madison that a bill of rights was "what the people are entitled to against every government on earth." By the fall of 1788 James Madison had been convinced that not only was a bill of rights necessary to ensure acceptance of the Constitution but that it would have positive effects and his acceptance was critical. The Bill of Rights diffused the objections of the anti-Federalists.

Madison came up with 17 amendments in the early months of the Congress. It was later trimmed to 12 in the Senate. On October 2, 1789, President Washington sent to each of the states a copy of the 12 amendments adopted. By December 15, 1791, three-fourths of the states had ratified the 10 amendments now so familiar to Americans as the "Bill of Rights."

By 1796 the Constitution was in the custody of the Department of State along with the Declaration and traveled with the federal government from New York to Philadelphia to Washington. Both documents were secretly moved to Leesburg, VA, before the imminent attack by the British on Washington in 1814. On September 29, 1921, President Warren Harding issued an Executive order transferring the Constitution and the Declaration to the Library of Congress for preservation and exhibition.

Have you ever read the entire U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights? Give it about 15 mins and actually read it. If we don't know and understand our federal government, how can we complain. Once you read it, see if you can answer these questions:

How old must a President be?

Can someone who legally immigrated to the United States and became a citizen become President?

How do they determine how many Electors a state can have to the Electoral College?

Who CANNOT be appointed as an Elector?

Which branch of government has the power to lay and collect taxes and borrow money on the credit of the United States?

Senators and Representatives shall in all Cases be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place EXCEPT for these three things. What are they?

Does a Representative have to live in the state he represents?

What is the name of the speech that the President has to give to Congress?

What does the Constitution give as reasons for impeachment?

Are militias prohibited by the Bill of Rights?

Is excessive bail constitutional?

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