US Constitution Fast Facts

Here’s a look at the United States Constitution, which establishes and sets forth the ultimate law of the land.

The Constitution is comprised of a preamble, seven articles and 27 amendments (last addition in 1992).
The first three articles of the Constitution set up the federal system by dividing power between three branches of governmentthe legislative, executive and judicial. The Fourth and Tenth Amendments insure statesrights and separate the federal and state governments.
Federal powers listed in the Constitution include the right to collect taxes, declare war and regulate trade. The federal government has implied powers that allow the government to respond to changing needs of the nation.
    Reserved powers, as dictated by the Tenth Amendment, belong to the states or the people. State powers include the right to legislate on divorce, marriage and education. The right to own property and the right to be tried by a jury are powers reserved for the people.
    In alcuni casi, there are concurrent powers, where both the federal and state governments may act. The federal government has authority in case of a conflict.
    Final authority in the interpretation of the Constitution lies with the Corte Suprema. It can overturn any law that conflicts with any part of the Constitution.

    The Constitutional Convention

    Maggio 25, 1787 – The Constitutional Convention meets in Philadelphia to discuss revising the Articles of Confederation. They decide instead to write the Constitution of the United States, and hold secret meetings with sentries posted outside the doors.
    Twelve of the 13 states send delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Rhode Island does not send delegates because it does not want a national government to interfere with its affairs.
    George Washington serves as president of the convention. Other delegates include: Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Dickinson, Gouverneur Morris, Edmund Randolph, Roger Sherman, James Wilson and George Wythe.
    Franklin, della Pennsylvania, is the oldest delegate at 81, and the youngest is Jonathon Dayton, 26, del New Jersey.
    settembre 17, 1787 – Thirty-nine of the 55 delegates sign the Constitution of the United States. Each state holds a Constitutional Convention and once nine states ratify the Constitution, the new government can begin.
    giugno 21, 1788 – New Hampshire is the ninth state to ratify the Constitution, therefore putting it into effect. tuttavia, New York and Virginia had not yet ratified the Constitution and these statesacceptance was necessary for the Constitution to work.
    giugno 25, 1788 – Virginia ratifies the Constitution.
    luglio 26, 1788 – New York ratifies the Constitution.

    Bill of Rights

    The promise of a Bill of Rights helped the Constitution get ratified in several important states.
    The amendments in the Bill of Rights were written to protect individual liberties against possible unjust rule by the national government.
    Madison suggested 15 amendments; Congress accepted 12 to be submitted to the states. Ten were approved by the states and added to the Constitution as the Bill of Rights.
    dicembre 15, 1791 – The Bill of Rights goes into effect.

    Constitutional Amendments

    An amendment may be proposed by two-thirds of each house of Congress or by a national convention called by Congress in response to requests by two-thirds of the state legislatures.
    It becomes part of the Constitution after being ratified either by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states or by conventions in three-fourths of the states.
    Congress decides which form of ratification should be used and how much time the states have to consider each amendment.
    The process of amending the Constitution was designed to be difficult.


    Amendment 1 – Freedom of religion, discorso, and the press; rights of assembly and petitionproposal passed September 25, 1789; ratified December 15, 1791
    Amendment 2 – Right to bear armsproposal passed September 25, 1789; ratified December 15, 1791
    Amendment 3 – Housing of soldiersproposal passed September 25, 1789; ratified December 15, 1791
    Amendment 4 – Search and arrest warrantsproposal passed September 25, 1789; ratified December 15, 1791
    Amendment 5 – Rights in criminal casesproposal passed September 25, 1789; ratified December 15, 1791
    Amendment 6 – Rights to a fair trialproposal passed September 25, 1789; ratified December 15, 1791
    Amendment 7 – Rights in civil casesproposal passed September 25, 1789; ratified December 15, 1791
    Amendment 8 – Bails, fines and punishmentsproposal passed September 25, 1789; ratified December 15, 1791
    Amendment 9 – Rights retained by the peopleproposal passed September 25, 1789; ratified December 15, 1791
    Amendment 10 – Powers retained by the states and the peopleproposal passed September 25, 1789; ratified December 15, 1791
    Amendment 11 – Lawsuits against statesproposal passed March 4, 1794; ratified February 7, 1795
    Amendment 12 – Election of the president and vice presidentproposal passed December 9, 1803; ratified June 15, 1804
    Amendment 13 – Abolition of slaveryproposal passed January 31, 1865; ratified December 6, 1865
    Amendment 14 – Civil rightsproposal passed June 13, 1866; ratified July 9, 1868
    Amendment 15 – Black suffrageproposal passed February 26, 1869; ratified February 3, 1870
    Amendment 16 – Income taxesproposal passed July 2, 1909; ratified February 3, 1913
    Amendment 17 – Direct election of senatorsproposal passed May 13, 1912; ratified April 8, 1913
    Amendment 18 – Prohibition of liquorproposal passed December 18, 1917; ratified January 16, 1919
    Amendment 19 – Woman suffrageproposal passed June 4, 1919; ratified August 18, 1920
    Amendment 20 – Terms of the president and Congressproposal passed March 2, 1932; ratified January 23, 1933
    Amendment 21 – Repeal of prohibitionproposal passed February 20, 1933; ratified December 5, 1933
    Amendment 22 – Limitation of presidents to two termsproposal passed March 21, 1947; ratified February 27, 1951
    Amendment 23 – Suffrage in the District of Columbiaproposal passed June 16, 1960; ratified March 29, 1961
    Amendment 24 – Poll taxesproposal passed August 27, 1962; ratified January 23, 1964
    Amendment 25 – Presidential disability and successionproposal passed July 6, 1965; ratified February 10, 1967
      Amendment 26 – Suffrage for 18-year-oldsproposal passed March 23, 1971; ratified July 1, 1971
      Amendment 27 – Congressional salariesproposal passed September 25, 1789; ratified May 7, 1992




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