The birth of the American republic

Columnist urgers readers to look deeper at Constitution


By Carl Hendrickson, Healthy Living

At the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, the Founding Fathers found it was as difficult to govern a country as it was to free the people from an oppressive government.

At the conclusion of the war, the states signed a document called the Articles of Confederation and created the Confederation of the United States. The central governing body, the Congress, was composed of one delegate from each state. There was no executive branch or judicial body. The Congress could not raise money or regulate commerce.

Fierce tariff wars were waged among the states. States had the power to issue currency and some printed so much paper money that inflation became rampant. Battles were fought between states over disputed borders and claims to western territory.

After a decade under weak central government and the Articles of Confederation, many came to realize that the government was in need of change. Patriotic leaders saw that it was necessary to shift some authority away from the states to a strengthened national government.

The Congress authorized a convention to be held in Philadelphia in May of 1787. It was apparent to the delegates that the problem was the confederation system. The difficulty lay in how to fix the system. A strong central government appeared to be the solution, but this would result in the loss of jealously-guarded power by the states. After 16 long weeks, the delegates devised a new government system — federalism — that created a strong central government but continued to allow significant autonomy to the states.

On September 17, 1787, the delegates signed and adopted the United States Constitution.

The Constitution established a tripartite system of government consisting of the president, the legislature and the judiciary. To this day the system has endured. It has worked so well that most states have adopted this tripartite framework.

Constitution Day is observed on the 17th of September. Educational institutions and federal agencies provide educational programing on the history of the American Constitution on this day. Missouri University of Science and Technology’s focus in 2021 was on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. This Amendment grants citizenship and equal protection of the laws to all persons born or naturalized in the United States.

The Federal District Court of Eastern Missouri has an annual Constitution Day student event. Teachers can obtain more information by contacting the court’s public education and community outreach administrator.

We all should understand the Constitution and how it affects each of us. Let us all strive to improve our knowledge of the framework that governs us.