The Constitution

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.

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The Constitutional Convention

In the wake of the American Revolution, there were still difficult times for the United States. There was much conflict and disagreement among the states. Each state had its own interests, and the Articles ofConfederation failed to unite the states. A new constitution was needed—one that would provide greater unity among the states by establishing a more powerful central government. In the summer of 1787, delegates from the states traveled to Philadelphia to convene a Constitutional Convention. After several months of debate, a new constitution was drafted. This new constitution established a federal government with a clearly defined and limited role. It introduced the concept of a separation of powers between three branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. But before it could become the supreme law of the land, each of the states had to ratify the Constitution.

The Federalist Papers

In an effort to gain support for the ratification of the Constitution, a series of essays, known as the Federalist Papers, were published in 1787 and 1788. These essays were written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. The
Federalist Papers provided a detailed explanation of the need for a federal government and the function it would serve. This historically significant series of essays was instrumental in obtaining the support needed to ratify our Constitution. The United States Constitution, which was adopted by the delegates in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787, was ratified into law on June 21, 1788.