A constitution is a set of laws and fundamental principles that dictate how an organization or government runs. These laws and principles define what the entity is. When organized and written down together in one document they are considered a legal document called a written constitution. Most countries have a written constitution stating the legal rights of its citizens. It also details how the government should run and what power they possess.
When was the United States Constitution written?
Before the constitution was written and ratified America was governed by the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. It was agreed that this document needed to be revised, during this process it was decided that a new constitution was needed and writing began in May 1787. On September 17, 1787 what we now know as the original United States Constitution was completed. It was then approved by the Congress of Confederation and voted upon by the people in the 13 original states. The constitution came into effect on March 4, 1789. In 1791 10 amendments were added to the constitution and these 10 amendments are commonly known as the Bill of Rights. Since then 17 more amendments have been added to the original seven articles and the 10 amendments of the Bill of Rights. The Original Handwritten document can still be seen today and is displayed at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C.
Interesting facts about constitutions
- The longest constitution in existence is the Constitution of India containing 444 articles, 12 schedules and 94 amendments.
- The shortest constitution is the United States Constitution
- The earliest known form of a constitution was discovered in Iraq and dates back to 2300BC
- The earliest written constitution still governing a sovereign nation today may be that of San Marino.
- The “enlightened constitution” model was developed by philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment. The model proposed that constitutional governments should be stable, adaptable, accountable, and open and should represent the people.