The Constitution of the United States of America

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The first page of the original US Constitution.

The Constitution of the United States of America is the highest national law for the United States of America. It was written on 1787-09-17, presented on 1787-09-28, ratified on 1788-06-21, and became effective on 1789-03-04. It was compiled by the Constitutional Convention and replaced the Articles of Confederation as the nation's supreme law.

The US Constitution describes how the US government is to be divided into legislative, executive, and judicial branches in order to separate powers, describes the rights and responsibilities of the government, and describes how the Constitution can be amended in the future. Since its ratification, it has since been updated with 27 amendments.

Personal

Own?No
Read?The 2007-07-25 version.
Finished2021-09-03

I've read portions of the US Constitution throughout my life, mostly in high school, but also when trying to determine the legality of various political issues. I finally sat down and read the entire thing in 2021.

The document is in the public domain.

Review

Overall:

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Good

  • The founders of the US Constitution didn't come up with the idea of a separation of powers for a government, nor was this the first constitution to establish them, but it was still wise that they became early adopters of the idea, and, the success of the US helped establish the separation of powers as a norm for later constitutions.
  • Building directly into the document the ability to alter it as needed was very insightful. I find it staggering how many Americans still believe it should never be updated. Also, requiring a 2/3 majority for changes helps ensure that only the most agreeable of amendments will be added.

Bad

  • Although the Declaration of Independence alluded to the the idea of giving all people certain rights, the US Constitution utterly failed to achieve this goal. Thankfully, less bigoted generations later used the amendment process to give all people these rights.
  • Some aspects of the document are sensitive to fluctuation and should have been written to be automatically adjusted. For example, Article I, Section 9 mentions a tax of $10, which would be over $200 in today's money. Without taking into account a system of inflation, this amount would have to be frequently updated with further amendments to stay relevant.

Ugly

  • The protections for slavers, the Three-fifths Compromise, and inability to identify women and Native Americans as people is absolutely sickening and hugely embarrassing.

Media

Download

This download includes the US Constitution, all the latest amendments, the amendments that were not ratified, and a detailed index.

Links

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