American Constitution - new government

Preamble to the American Constitution

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, 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."

Preamble to the United States Constitution

Constitutional Convention

The colonists issued the Declaration of Independence and fought the Revolution War - freedom form England had been won; the new nation existed. Creating the Constitution - the document that set the structure and intentions of the future government - was the next step.

In May of 1787, delegates from the 13 states - except for Rhode Island, which couldn't afford to send anyone - met in Philadelphia to try to work out a plan of government for the newly formed United States. Everyone agreed that some sort of federal government was necessary to bind the loosely organized states into a strong unit, but few agreed on what powers it should have.


The convention, under the leadership of George Washington, included as delegates wealthy merchants, lawyers, judges - generally the most influential men of the time. Some thought that the country should be governed by a strong central power, while others felt that the states should be even stronger. Representation in the new government became a key issue: Would a state's population determine how may representatives it would have or would each state have the same number? How would slaves be counted?

The representation issue was solved by having two houses of Congress, one giving the states an equal number of representatives and one with population as the basis for representation. In a compromise, it was agreed that, in favor of the south, Congress would not control slavery for 20 years and, in favor of the North, slaves would be counted as only 3/5 of their total numbers for the purposes of determining representation. The Constitution also provided the framework for elections but left the specifics of who could vote to the states. Most required that voters own property, and none included women, native Americans, slaves, or ex-slaves.

It also provided for a government divided into three parts - the executive (the president and cabinet), the legislative (congress), and the judicial - in which no branch could gain power over the others. The intricate rules of "checks and balances" still kept the government running smoothly.

Bill of Rights

One of the most important parts of the Constitution is the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments, which were added to it at one time. It guarantees for each citizen specific freedoms not covered in the main body of the document, including the right of free speech, press, and religion and the right to a speedy trial in front of  a jury:

  1. The First Amendment provides protections: speech, press, assembly,  religious beliefs and practices.
  2. Protects the right to keep and bear arms.
  3. Prevents government from forcing homeowners to allow soldiers to use their homes.
  4. Bars the government from unreasonable search and seizure.
  5. People have the right to a grand jury, against double-jeopardy, against self-incrimination and for due process of law.
  6. People have the right to a speedy and public trial, trial by an impartial jury.
  7. Extends the right to a jury trial in Federal civil cases.
  8. Bars excessive bail and fines and cruel and unusual punishment.
  9. The Ninth Amendment states that listing specific rights in the Constitution does not mean that people do not have other rights that have not been spelled out.
  10. The Federal Government only has those powers delegated in the Constitution. If it isn’t listed, it belongs to the states or to the people.

The making of the Constitution did not come easily. Everyone compromised and it took many adjustments, hundreds of votes, and two years to put into use. Perhaps because of this very democratic process and the twin concepts of a balanced and fair government plus freedoms for individuals, the Constitution remains flexible to this day and the ideal model of a document for a democracy.

The new government of the new nation was founded on three documents:

  • 1776 - The Declaration of Independence
  • 1787 - The Constitution
  • 1791 - The Bill of Rights

Se había ganado la revolución, una nueva nación tenia vida. La creación de la Constitución  - el documento que establecería la estructura y las intenciones del futuro gobierno - era el próximo paso.