United States Constitution for Children, Parts and Purposes of the Constitution for Kids: FreeSchool
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United States Constitution for Children, Parts and Purposes of the Constitution for Kids: FreeSchool

October 10, 2019


You’re watching FreeSchool! The United States Constitution is a special
document written in 1787 that created the framework of the federal government. It is called the highest law in the land,
because all other laws in the United States must follow the rules laid out in the Constitution. The story of the Constitution began in 1776
when the Second Continental Congress appointed a committee to write the Declaration of Independence. They realized that as soon as they were independent
of Great Britain, they would need their own government, and so they appointed another
committee to write a document that would lay out the rules governing their new country. These rules, called the Articles of Confederation,
were completed in the fall of 1777. In order to become law, the Articles of Confederation
needed to be ratified, or formally agreed to, by all thirteen states, a process that
took more than 3 years. In 1781, the Articles of Confederation were
officially adopted, and the United States of America finally had its own government. It soon became obvious, however, that this
new government had problems. Under the Articles of Confederation the states
operated like small, independent countries, and the central government wasn’t strong enough
to perform its duties. In 1787 a Constitutional Convention met in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to discuss improvements to the Articles of Confederation, but it was
soon decided that a brand new Constitution was needed instead. With George Washington in charge, these delegates,
known as the framers of the Constitution, set about creating a government that would
meet the needs of their country. They needed a government that was strong enough
to do its job, but not so strong that it could oppress the states. They needed to have the powers that belonged
to the federal government and the powers that belonged to the states clearly established. They needed to protect the individual liberties
of American citizens. Finally, they needed a way for future Americans
to make changes to the Constitution without the need for a revolution. After months of debate and compromise, the
Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787, and by the following year enough states had
ratified it that it went into effect. At the time of its signing, the Constitution
was made up of a Preamble and seven Articles. The Preamble was an introduction that told
everyone what the Constitution was supposed to do. “We the People of the United States, in Order
to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the
common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves
and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of
America.” The first three Articles of the Constitution
created the branches of our government: the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches. Each branch would have different powers and
have the ability to stop the other branches from growing too powerful, in a system of
checks and balances. The remaining Articles spelled out relationships
between the states and the federal government, how to make changes to the Constitution, how
the Constitution could become law, and established it as the supreme, or highest, law in the
land. Changes to the Constitution are called Amendments,
and the first Amendments were made very soon after the Constitution was ratified. Some people were worried that the Constitution
did not provide strong enough protections for individual rights. To fix this, the first ten Amendments, known
as the Bill of Rights, were added to the Constitution in 1791. The Bill of Rights spells out rights that
individuals have in the United States, such as freedom of speech and religion, as well
as rights that people have when they are accused of a crime. Finally, the Bill of Rights says that people
can have other rights that are not spelled out in the Constitution, and that any power
not given to the Federal government belongs to the states. Since then the Constitution has been amended
seventeen more times for a total of 27 amendments. Some famous amendments include the 13th Amendment,
which outlawed slavery, the 15th Amendment, which allowed people to vote regardless of
their race or skin color, the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, and the
26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18. The Constitution of the United States is the
oldest single document in history that is still being used to run a country, and has
inspired other governments all around the world. Because it was designed to protect the rights
of the people, prevent individual parts of the government from becoming too powerful,
and change over time to meet the needs of the country, it has not needed to be replaced
for well over 200 years and may easily continue to guide the country far into the future. I hope you enjoyed learning about the Constitution
of the United States of America today. Goodbye till next time!

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