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We the People

About the Constitution

The Constitution of the United States defines the structure of the U.S. legal system by allocating power and responsibility among the three branches of government: the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.  The Constitution consists of such fundamental principles as separation of power, checks and balances, and shared authority of federal and state governments. 

Organization of the Document

I. Preamble

As suggested by the introductory words "We the people," the Preamble of the Constitution establishes that the power of the government and originates from the people of the United States.

II. Articles

The Constitution is divided into seven articles on different topics. 

  • Article I introduces the legislative branch of government
  • Article II concerns the executive branch of government
  • Article III establishes the Supreme Court as the highest judicial power
  • Article IV defines the relationship between the federal government and the states
  • Article V sets procedure for amending the Constitution
  • Article VI declares that the Constitution is "the supreme Law of the Land"
  • Artice VII ratifies the Constitution

III. Amendments

There have been twenty-seven amendments to the Constitution.

  • Amendments 1 through 10, the Bill of Rights, guarantee freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, speedy jury trial in criminal cases, as well as protection against excessive bail, and cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Amendments 11 through 27 address issues relating to lawsuits brought against states, the electoral vote, prohibition of slavery, equal protection, voting rights, creation of the federal income tax, popular election, prohibition, overturning of prohibition, and term limits. 

Founding Fathers

Click on the names below to visit a biography of the delegate. 

(* indicates delegates who did not sign the Constitution)

Connecticut
William. Samuel Johnson
Roger Sherman
Oliver Ellsworth (Elsworth)*
Delaware
George Read
Gunning Bedford, Jr.
John Dickinson
Richard Bassett
Jacob Broom
Georgia
William Few
Abraham Baldwin
William Houston*
William L. Pierce*
Maryland
James McHenry
Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer
Daniel Carroll
Luther Martin*
John F. Mercer*
Massachusetts
Nathaniel Gorham
Rufus King
Elbridge Gerry*
Caleb Strong*
New Hampshire
John Langdon
Nicholas Gilman
New Jersey
William Livingston
David Brearly (Brearley)
William Paterson (Patterson)
Jonathan Dayton
William C. Houston*
New York
Alexander Hamilton
John Lansing, Jr.*
Robert Yates*
North Carolina
William. Blount
Richard. Dobbs Spaight
Hugh Williamson
William R. Davie*
Alexander Martin*
Pennsylvania
Benjamin Franklin
Thomas Mifflin
Robert Morris
George Clymer
Thomas Fitzsimons (FitzSimons; Fitzsimmons)
Jared Ingersoll
James Wilson
Gouverneur Morris
South Carolina
John Rutledge
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Charles Pinckney
Pierce Butler
Rhode Island
Rhode Island did not send any delegates to the Constitutional Convention.
Virginia
John Blair
James Madison Jr.
George Washington
George Mason*
James McClurg*
Edmund J. Randolph*
George Wythe*
 

 

National Archives and Records Administration. "America's Founding Fathers." The Charters of Freedom. National Archives and Records Administration, 2010. Web. 7 April 2011.

IMAGE CREDIT:

 

 

National Archives and Records Administration. "America's Founding Fathers." The Charters of Freedom. National Archives and Records Administration, 2010. Web. 7 April 2011.

"We the People. . . "

Christy, Howard Chandler. "Scene at the Signing of the Constitution." Oil painting (reproduction), 1940.

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