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Reflecting on the Constitution for Constitution Day

It's Constitution Day today! What does that mean? Constitution Day is a holiday to remember the signing of the Constitution, which occurred on this day in 1787, and reflect on the document that has formed the basis of government for the United States of America. 

The Constitution established the government of the United States. Prior to the signing of the Constitution, the 13 colonies had formed a loose federation of states governed by the Articles of Confederation, a predecessor to the Constitution that granted states much authority and the federal government very little. The federal government had the authority to regulate currency, conduct war and oversee foreign affairs, but had no way of enforcing its duties. The 13 states operated almost like independent countries. Recognizing that the fledgling country could not survive when the states were so divided, Alexander Hamilton called a constitutional convention to pen new founding documents. The Constitution was created.

The new document not only established judicial and executive branches, which were not part of the Articles of Confederation, it also set up the bicameral legislature we have today. The Constitution is also known for the Bill of Rights, 10 amendments to the original document that established some of the country's core values, such as freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and the right to bear arms.

For more on Constitution Day, including quizzes and the Schoolhouse Rock classic "I'm Just a Bill," check out our page on the holiday.