Learn about US Constitution

Published 12:42 pm Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It was exactly 227 years ago today, Sept. 17, 1787 that the 39 framers of the U.S. Constitution met for the last time to solemnly sign the document by which our nation’s government is still governed. It went into effect in 1789 after the required nine states ratified it.

Constitution Day is a national celebration of a document that has guided our nation through the rocks and shoals of history’s greatest challenges during all the years it has been in effect.

There is no better way to observe this day than to learn about the Constitution, how and why it came into being, the original intent of the framers and, as voters, to judge laws and elected officials on how well they adhere to its seven great principles.

Those seven great principles are: Popular Sovereignty — the people rule, they have the power through voting; Separation of Powers — power is split into the three branches, Legislative, Executive, and Judicial; Checks and Balances — each branch of government limits the power of the other branches; Limited Government — the concept of controlling how much power the Federal government has through the people voting, checks and balances, three branches of government, and the Bill of Rights; Republicanism — a type of government in which people elect representatives to listen to what they want and go speak and vote for them in Congress; Federalism — the sharing of power between the National and State governments, including enumerated, reserved and concurrent powers; Individual Rights — unalienable (God given) rights are protected in the Bill of Rights, amendments 1-10.

The best source for finding out all about the Constitution is your public or school library or, if online, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Constitution Day page, http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/constitution-day/.

Here are some tips from NARA on learning activities about the Constitution, available for free online:

l Find out about the 39 delegates who signed the Constitution on September 17, 1787.

l Explore in this simulation how the members of the Constitutional Convention might have felt as they gathered in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall and began the arduous and memorable task of writing the United States Constitution.

l Uncover the issues involved in the creation and ratification of the United States Constitution and the new government it established in the Teaching With Documents lesson on Delaware’s ratification.

l Following ratification, the next task was implementation. Analyze historic documents and determine the extent to which the Constitution provided for the reestablishment of the Navy.

l Discover additional information about the Constitutional Convention and the ratification process and dozens of fascinating facts about the Constitution.

l See the online version of the popular NARA U.S. Constitution Workshop.

Be sure and obtain your own copy of the Constitution and consult it frequently. Learn by heart the seven great principles of the Constitution and make sure your elected officials truly and faithfully follow them.(MGNonline)