WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, IN ORDER TO FORM A MORE PERFECT UNION
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (JFK+50) So begins the Preamble of the United States Constitution which was adopted and signed by 39 delegates of the Constitutional Convention 229 years ago today, September 17, 1787, at the State House here in Philadelphia.
55 delegates from 12 of the 13 states attended the Convention from May through September 1787.
Sessions were closed to the press and the public and when the delegates became deadlocked on the specifics of representation of the people in the government, they were able to compromise and settle on a two house legislature with the House of Representatives determined by population and the Senate determined by equal representation.
The delegates agreed to abandon the principle of a federation of states and put in place a centralized federal system. It would be a novel form of federalism, however, with shared power and dual lawmaking by both state and national governments.
Unlike the Articles of Confederation which it replaced, the Constitution provides for an executive of the federal government, the President of the United States.
The Constitution, consisting of a preamble and seven articles, was ratified on June 21, 1788 and went into effect on March 4, 1789.
"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."
Advanced Placement U.S. History Lecture Notes, by John White, Carter High School, Knoxville, Tennessee, 2009.
Signing of the US Constitution