The Constitution of the U.S.A. (photo by Chuck Coker/Flickr)
By Bob Bradley
Today marks the 225th anniversary of the signing of the final draft of the U.S. Constitution. On September 17, 1787, 39 of the 55 delegates attending the constitutional convention in Philadelphia, the largest and most cosmopolitan city in America at the time, signed the document, which has ever since shaped our nation’s form of democratic government. The Framers of the Constitution pulled off a revolution without firing a shot by tossing the nation’s previous form of government under the Articles of Confederation and replacing it with a constitutional government marked by three branches of government, and a division of power between the states and federal government.
What follows are a few interesting facts about the U.S. Constitution.
1. The Constitution is both the shortest and longest surviving written national constitution in the world. Many contend the lack of specificity and detail in the Constitution have allowed flexibility, and have prevented the document from becoming obsolete. The Constitution is also the most copied national constitution in the world. Substantial excerpts from it have shown up in many of the constitutions developed by new democracies that have emerged around the globe.
2. The word “God” appears nowhere in the U.S. Constitution. This was an intentional omission by the Framers, and was designed to make our nation a grand experiment for democracy. The people were given the sole and final authority for the maintenance of the form of democracy created by the Constitution. This is reflected by the most remembered words of the Constitution, which actually begin the document-We the People.
3. Not too long ago the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act under the taxing authority of Congress. The power of the Court to determine the constitutionality of congressional legislation is known as judicial review. The words, judicial review, are found nowhere in the Constitution. It is a power that federal judges ultimately granted to themselves through a series of court decisions.
4. Political parties are also not mentioned in the Constitution. In fact, it is pretty clear that the majority of the Framers were none too fond of political parties. They did not want groups of people to form semi-permanent attachments to organizations that could control government for long periods of time. They wanted representatives in Congress to reflect the public’s interests and not organizational concerns. If only members of Congress would adhere to those sentiments today.
5. A final, yet very important, consideration is that the Constitution is essentially a series of compromises. In fact, the document would never have been put in a position to be signed on September 17 if not for the process of compromise. The Framers were astute enough to put aside their personal feelings and allegiances to various causes to realize that the successful completion of the document was much more important. We as a nation await when our elected officials will come to the realization that solving our nation’s economic woes outweighs any of their individual concerns.
For more information you can browse the following books:
The Meaning of the Constitution by Angela Roddey Holder and John Thomas Roddey Holder.
The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution by Linda R. Monk.
The following web sites are also useful:
Bob Bradley is solely responsible for the opinions expressed above. These opinions do not necessarily reflect those of WJBC, Radio Bloomington or Cumulus Media staff or management.
Bradley was a full-time professor in the Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University where he has been since 1982. He has received several recognitions including: Carnegie Scholar for Civic Engagement, Constitution Trail Friend of the Year, and Faculty Star distinction by ISU Athletics. He dearly loves his wife, Reenie, of more than 25 years, and his daughter, Erin. He is an avid reader, devout sports enthusiast, gardener, golfer, and bird watcher.