Tomorrow is Constitution Day, the day that we commemorate the signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787. The Constitution was written in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the same place where the Declaration of Independence was signed. The gathering, now known as the Constitutional Convention, was held May 25 to September 17, 1787. After much debate throughout the Thirteen Colonies, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document on June 21, 1788. The new government founded and governed under the U.S. Constitution started on March 4, 1789.
Most Americans know about Independence Day, or at least that a national holiday falls on July 4, but not too many know about Constitution Day. Yet, Constitution Day may be the more important holiday of the two, particularly at times when the Constitution is threatened. The Constitution is at greater risk right now than it has been since the Civil War. The Constitution is a miraculous document that directs and limits the powers of the federal government.
There were many miracles that took place during the years of 1776 and 1789, but three of them stand out plainly in history. The first is that the colonial army, made up of disorganized and poorly equipped volunteers, defeated Great Britain, the greatest military power in the world at that time. Nothing short of a miracle could have brought this victory to the colonists.
The second miracle took place in the drafting, signing, and ratifying of the Constitution. The leaders and/or people of the Thirteen Colonies could not agree on anything because they were so diversified. Yet, representatives of the colonies were able to agree in the writing of a new Constitution, and they accomplished this great feat in a period of only four months of deliberation.
There are people who believe that much of the U.S. Constitution was divinely inspired. As miraculous as the writing itself, the ratification of it may be just as phenomenal. There were concerns about the rights of the people and the rights of the states being protected from a corrupt federal government, but these concerns were eased with the promise of a Bill of Rights.
The Founders decided that only nine of the thirteen colonies would need to ratify the Constitution because they knew that it would be almost impossible to get all thirteen colonies to agree. Even at that, several leaders – Patrick Henry, George Mason, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Samuel Adams, and John Hancock – made extraordinary efforts to encourage the three most powerful colonies – Virginia, New York, and Massachusetts – to ratify the Constitution. The smaller colonies were more willing to ratify it after the three biggest ones had done so.
The U.S. Constitution, like the Declaration of Independence, is a unique document. It created a government but limited its powers in several different ways. It created a system of checks and balances by dividing the power between three separate but equal branches of the government – the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. It also separated the power between the federal government and state governments.
The Constitution limits power in several other ways, including the frequent elections. It sets up the schedule of president/vice president being elected every four years, senators every six years, and representatives – those closes to the people – are elected every two years. It puts the power in the people and gives them opportunity and power to replace incompetent and/or corrupt representatives.
Scott Powell posted an article about the Constitution at the Canada Free Press about the Constitution. He says that Constitution Day may be the most important holiday in 2018 because the Constitution itself is under attack like never before. He states that it was the “combination of limiting governmental power and maximizing people’s rights” that “makes the U.S. Constitution unique.” He explains that the constraints on the government written into the Constitution empower the people. This combination helped Americans “to exercise their freedom and ingenuity to create and build – driving the United States from colonial poverty to world economic superpower in just 200 years.”
Powell reminds us that every person who is elected to a government office or appointed as a judge or as a secretary in the President’s cabinet pledge an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Then he explains why he believes that there is a civil war in the nation.
So it comes as an unprecedented shock to learn that a significant number of high-ranking U.S. Government officials – most appointed during the Obama administration – betrayed their oaths of office and refused to accept the will of the people manifest in Trump’s 304 electoral college vote victory over Clinton’s 227 votes. A new civil war has begun, but it is very different than the one fought 157 years ago.
Powell continues his article by reminding Americans of the many ways that the Trump administration is trying to reign in the corruption and his many accomplishments, including the appointment of “a large number of outstanding constitutionalist jurists to the high courts.” These judges may hear numerous cases against corrupt officials.
Even though Powell acknowledges that there is a civil war taking place in the United States, he also says that there is reason for hope on this Constitution Day. The “frenzy” generated by the Democrats against President Trump is most likely an indicator of “the panic getting more animated and louder as the day of legal reckoning gets closer.” He closes his article with this statement, one that should give all Americans hope.
Constitution Day is an occasion to remember that equal justice under the law is the standard, that we the people are in charge, and that the federal government should answer to us, and not the other way around.
The U.S. Constitution is a great blessing in the lives of Americans as well as people all over the world. For this reason and many others, we must protect and preserve the Constitution in order for it to protect all of us.