“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 opening words of the United States constitution, which was finalised on this day, September 17th, 1787.
It is the oldest written constitution currently in force anywhere in the world.
At the time of it’s drafting, the US, as we know it today, had already existed as an independent country for four years, after the end of the War of Independence in 1783.
The constitutional convention began in May of 1787, and lasted for five months. It was not originally intended, in fact, to be a constitutional convention – that evolved as the meetings went on. Originally, it was simply intended as a way for the victorious states to discuss closer co-operation as independent entities. The concept of a unitary country with a single federal government evolved over the course of the convention.
The constitutional convention, which comprised 55 men, now referred to as “the framers”, adopted a document which divided power almost equally between two legislative chambers – the house of representatives, and the senate. They established a Presidency, whose holder was supposed to be responsible for foreign policy and security. They established a supreme court. And they agreed that most power was to be left with the individual states.
That constitution remains in force today, two hundred and forty three years later. It is often regarded as the most significant document written in modern history.
Four of the fifty-five founders were born in Ireland: William Paterson, and James McHenry, both born in Antrim, Pierce Butler, born in Carlow, and Thomas FitzSimons, born in Laois.
The US Constitution, finalised on this day, September 17th, 1787.