Defining Documents in American History: The Constitution
In over 600 pages, these volumes provide in-depth analysis of key sections of the Constitution and its amendments, as well as other documents that have played a significant role in its creation and adherence. As the supreme law of the country, the Constitution delineates the nation’s frame of government and was originally comprised of seven articles. The first three articles put forth the separation of powers (three branches of government), the next three embody the concepts of federalism (rights and responsibilities of the states in relationship to the federal government), and the last article established the procedure used by the then 13 states to ratify it. It has been amended 27 times to meet the needs of a nation that has undergone profound change. The first ten amendments are known as the Bill of Rights and were added at the insistence of Anti-Federalists who sought guarantees of personal freedoms and restrictions on government power. Various other amendments likewise relate to federal authority. The Constitution has remained in force for over two centuries due to the way the framers separated and balanced governmental powers. It is interpreted, supplemented, and implemented by a large body of federal constitutional law, and has influenced the constitutions of other nations.
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