The US Constitution: the Enduring Spirit of America

The US Constitution: the Enduring Spirit of America

Today, the 248th celebration of the creation of the United States, is a great moment to consider the enduring nature of our Constitution, the longest-surviving founding document of any country on earth. While many current events can lead to a pessimistic outlook on the USit is worth considering a cornerstone of our national identity that has not swayedThe US Constitution has maintained legal authority since it was ratified in July 1789. The document created an organized governmental structure that has been the foundation of American dynamism and justice for centuries.

Crafting the document began with the Constitutional Convention of 1787, where delegates from every state debated the competing interests of the young nation. The delegates fell under two general categories, Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Federalists, like Alexander Hamilton, advocated for a stronger central government. Anti-Federalists like Patrick Henry, George Mason, and Samuel Adams argued for stronger states’ rights. While the Federalists ultimately prevailed, the system of government melded the two schools of thought in a unique and ingenious manner.

The Constitution famously begins with the words, “We the People,” and throughout the articles the document dictates limits on governmental authority. The founders drew from Enlightenment thinkers like Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau, and also from their studies of Ancient Greek and Roman societies. The result was a novel, innovative governmental system the likes of which the world had never seen.

It featured a precise separation of federal government power through three branches, and a bicameral Congress to represent both the elites and common people. The Electoral College, an often-maligned system, allowed for rural people to share political power with urban centers. Since the original document was written, its 27 amendments are a narrative of US history; a tale of hostilities, crises, and controversies that ultimately culminated in peaceful political resolutions.

Following the rapid growth and success of the US, countries from around the world began adopting features of the US Constitution. At least 100 countries have drawn from it, including elements of its separation of powers, checks and balances, and protections of individual rights.

With the recent overturning of the Chevron doctrine, and the granting of limited presidential immunity in a case involving Donald Trump, the fundamental influence of the Constitution in the US is alive and well. While political actors advocate for diverging interpretations, they ultimately seek to ground their political wills upon the foundation that is the Constitution. Despite how divided our great nation can be, the Constitution offers a safe haven for peaceful resolution.