Celebrate Constitution Day by reading a free copy
The Constitution of the United States has survived many crises and tests, including the Civil War. We at UNCSA celebrate Constitution Day each Sept. 17, along with other schools, colleges and universities in the United States. It is appropriate that we do so, since we are beneficiaries of the freedoms ensured by the Constitution.
On Friday, Sept. 17, there will be copies of the Constitution available outside the offices of the Division of Liberal Arts and the High School Academic Program. Please feel free to pick up a copy.
History of the U.S. Constitution
In May of 1787 delegates from several states of the newly-formed United States of America began meeting in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation, the first governing document of the new country. Within a month, it was obvious to them that instead of revising the current governing structure of the country they should create an entirely new form of government.
During the long, hot summer of 1787, in great secrecy, they argued about issues such as the relationship between the central government and the states, the relationship of the states to each other, and the role of the citizen in the new government. The arguments over issues such as the regulation of commerce and slavery were particularly heated. Finally, on Sept. 17, 1787, they signed a new Constitution of the United States of America.
The new Constitution now had to be ratified by a majority of the state legislatures. The major objections to the new governing document centered on the lack of a bill of rights, which in the words of Thomas Jefferson, are "what the people are entitled to against every government on earth . . . and what no just government should refuse." A set of ten amendments to the Constitution was drafted. These amendments guaranteed such rights as the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, the right to bear arms, and the right to a fair trial. The tenth amendment states that "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
The new constitution became effective for the ratifying states when New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify it. North Carolina was the twelfth state to ratify the Constitution. The first presidential election was held in February of 1789 and the first Congress convened in New York City in March of 1789.
On April 6, 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States and the new government began the process of organizing itself. One of its first acts of Congress was to introduce the new Bill of Rights, which was ratified by the various states in 1791.
You may also read a transcription at the National Archives website.
Contact: Kathryn McMillan
Sept. 16, 2021