2011 News Archive
Constitution Week celebrates the document that created a new kind of nation
In the summer of 1787, delegates from several states met in a hot, stuffy room in Philadelphia to draft a new constitution. From May to September, they debated, compromised, voted, re-considered, wrote, and toiled to create a government in which the common people could choose their leaders and make law.
It was an audacious experiment. Monarchies across the world expected it to fail, and the delegates knew it.
The 55 delegates ranged in age from 26 to 81. They came from many occupations: lawyers, merchants, planters, educators and investors. Four were born in Ireland, one in Scotland, one in England and one in the British West Indies.
With George Washington presiding, they painstakingly negotiated the formation of the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Presidency and the Judiciary, all the while balancing competing agendas between big states and small states and between different geographic sections. Then they added a Bill of Rights to protect the rights of citizens.
When it was all finally ratified by the states in 1791, the Founding Fathers had forged an enduring compact that created a nation that continues to stand as "a shining city upon a hill."
This week is Constitution Week, and we honor the political giants who through their genius and unstinting labor gave us the great country called the United States of America.