Stop complaining–I’m not asking you to go to Harvard Law School here… just to know a few basic facts about the US Constitution. I decided to invoke the “The Least You Need to Know” series here.
The United States Constitution was created because the Articles of Confederation didn’t work. They didn’t work because they didn’t have any centralized power–imagine if everything in your household was done by popular vote. It would be chaos. You need some adult in the house to smack you down when you get out of line. The Articles of Confederation was like a house with no adult.
The Constitution had to provide leadership–a strong federal government that could get the job done without turning into a tyrant or a king. This was the key. Remember Shay’s Rebellion. People had guns. They were not afraid to use them.
Meanwhile… the British and the French were sitting on the horizon waiting for this great experiment in democracy to fall apart, at which point they were ready to recolonize. If you need additional proof, just check the world map during this period–it was starting to be carved up into nice colonial chunks.
Back to the Constitution.
- It is organized into Articles, Sections, and Clauses. Think of these as the units, chapters, and sections of the textbooks you don’t read very often.
- There were lots of arguments on how to create the structure of government–whether big or small states got more or equal representatives.
- Whether it should create a strong or moderate federal government and what its powers would be.
- Whether there should be a method to change it if it should be necessary.
- It never addresses the issue of slavery.
Here’s what we ended up with:
- Seven articles. The first three set up the branches of government.
- A bicameral congress (two-parts). Senate has the same number of members from each state and the House of Representatives has a different number according to the population of the state.
- A “Bill of Rights.”