James Madison, who is often called the Father of the Constitution

The Constitution of the United States is a living document that was first written at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Conservatives fear it above all else, because it provides for a real Democratic government and outlines several human rights.

Conservative and Liberal views

Some conservatives believe that the Constitution should be followed strictly and should not be changed, as if its original version is infallible. This same dogmatic mentality is used with Christianity and the Bible.

Liberals view the Constitution as a guideline which the Founding Fathers created on which the government should be based. It is in no way perfect or infallible. If the Constitution, and society at large can be improved, it should be improved. Society should be governed by the living, not by the dead.

Causes and origin

The Constitution was written at the 1787 Constitutional Convention, when the document previously governing the United States was deemed inadequate (Articles of Confederation). The Convention met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Great Compromise

Two rival plans for a legislature decisively divided the delegates to the Convention. The New Jersey Plan called for a unicameral legislature, much like the modern Senate. The Virginia Plan called for a bicameral legislature with representation based on population, much like the modern House of Representatives. But a delegate from Connecticut, Roger Sherman, proposed a compromise, in which there would be a combination of both plans.


The Constitution is divided into seven articles:

Article One Details the requirements and specifications for the Congress, the House and Senate.

Article Two Details the powers and duties of the office of the Presidency.

Article Three Details the powers and specifications of the Supreme Court.

Article Four describes the duties the states have to each other, and the duties the federal government has to the states.

Article Five describes how the constitution may be altered.

Article Six declares that the constitution is the supreme law of the land, and forbids a religious test as a requirement to hold a governmental position.

Article Seven states that at least nine states must ratify the constitution in order for it to be valid.

The Amendments

The US Constitution contains a total of twenty-seven amendments - the first ten of which are collectively known as the Bill of Rights.

  • First Amendment - The right to free speech, freedom of religion, secularism, freedom of press, the right to petition, and the right to peacefully assemble
  • Second Amendment - the right to shoot things bear arms
  • Third Amendment - no quartering of soldiers in private houses during peacetime
  • Fourth Amendment - requires need for search and arrest warrants
  • Fifth Amendment - protects against abuse of government
  • Sixth Amendment - the right to a fair trial
  • Seventh Amendment - the right to a trial by jury
  • Eighth Amendment - no cruel or unusual punishment
  • Ninth Amendment - addresses the rights of those who are not specific to the Constitution
  • Tenth Amendment - limits the power of the federal government
  • Eleventh Amendment - grants immunity to states from being sued by the federal government
  • Twelfth Amendment - amends the process to elect the president and vice-president
  • Thirteenth Amendment - made it illegal to own slaves
  • Fourteenth Amendment - defined citizenship
  • Fifteenth Amendment - made it illegal for states to disenfranchise people of different races
  • Sixteenth Amendment - allows for a federal income tax
  • Seventeenth Amendment - senators to be elected by popular vote
  • Eighteenth Amendment - enabled prohibition
  • Nineteenth Amendment - gave women the right to vote
  • Twentieth Amendment - establishes the beginning and the end of elected offices
  • Twenty-First Amendment - repealed eighteenth amendment
  • Twenty-Second Amendment - established a term-limit for the president
  • Twenty-Third Amendment - allows people in the District of Colombia to vote in federal elections
  • Twenty-Fourth Amendment - no poll tax
  • Twenty-Fifth Amendment - deals with presidential succession
  • Twenty-Sixth Amendment - brought down the voting age to 18
  • Twenty-Seventh Amendment - any change in salary of congressmen takes effect next term

See also