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U.S. Constitution: History of

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The U.S. Constitution defines the framework of the Federal Government.
Passage of the Constitution occurred only after much debate and lobbying by the founding fathers.    

Articles of Confederation (1781-1789)

The Articles of Confederation served as a constitution for the 13 indepedant states after the Revolution. It was in force from March 1, 1781, until 1789 when the present day Constitution went into effect.

Federalist Papers & Related Works (Lobbying for a U.S. Constitution)

"The Federalist, commonly referred to as the Federalist Papers, is a series of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison between October 1787 and May 1788. The essays were published anonymously, under the pen name "Publius," in various New York state newspapers of the time. The Federalist Papers were written and published to urge New Yorkers to ratify the proposed United States Constitution, which was drafted in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787. In lobbying for adoption of the Constitution over the existing Articles of Confederation, the essays explain particular provisions of the Constitution in detail. For this reason, and because Hamilton and Madison were each members of the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist Papers are often used today to help interpret the intentions of those drafting the Constitution." ~ Text from the Library of Congress.

Constitutional Convention & Ratification (1787 -1788)

"The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia met between May and September of 1787 to address the problems of the weak central government that existed under the Articles of Confederation. The United States Constitution that emerged from the convention established a federal government with more specific powers, including those related to conducting relations with foreign governments." ~ Text from the U.S. State Department, Office of the Historian. 

This Research Guide Has Been Recommended by
The Federal Depository Library Program


Origin of Constitution Day

Constitution Day was championed by U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd (D- W.V.) who sponsored a bill that eventually became Public Law 108-447. This bill, in part, required educational programs and resources for a September 17 celebration of the U.S. Constitution.

About Constitution Day

Read & Understand the U.S. Constitution