POSTED: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 - 6:48pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 11:17am
Today is Constitution Day.
The US Constitution is 226 years old today.
And the genius of it is, it has survived that long.
The year is 1787. Just 6 years earlier, the new United States of America had concluded a war for independence.
Against all odds, they had won, and set up shop under the Articles of Confederation.
But a farmer’s revolt called the Shay’s Rebellion showed the weakness of that arrangement.
“And they realized,” says TJC Government Professor David McClendon, “if we can’t protect ourselves against a bunch of farmers trying to take over banks. What are we going to do when the British come a coming?”
And a Constitutional Convention was begun in the same hall where the Declaration of Independence was hammered out. And many of the same characters were there.
The document spells out the organization of a new sort of Republic, the likes of which had not been seen.
“It really was trying to do something that was different from before,” McClendon says. “One of the things they were trying to do was develop a dual scheme of representation. They really wanted for there to be a real separation of powers that existed that national government and the states.”
And when they finished, they realized something was missing.
“One of the things that might have kept it from being ratified was that there was no list of things that the government was prevented from acting in particular ways,” he told us.
And the Bill of Rights was born.
And the real genius of these men was realizing that things and societies change. That’s why they made it amendable.
“But the fact that they were able to sit down and say, yes, things are going to have to change with this document over time, and it’s got to be possible, was definitely one of the things that made it such an enduring and lasting document,” McClendon concluded.
So, it would be worth your while to pull out a copy of the Constitution and give it a quick read.
And appreciate politicians who didn’t look only to the next election, but the next generation.