U.S. Constitution Day

Convention of 1787
Convention of 1787
September 17, 1787
The Convention of 1787 was the capstone in a chain of events that led to the creation of the U.S. Constitution.

America's first attempt at a national governing document was in 1777 with the Articles of Confederation. It went into effect in 1781, but its deficiencies were quickly apparent. So in 1786, the Anapolis Convention called for a body to assemble, to address its many weaknesses, What is known as the Constitutional Convention then gathered in Philadelphia in 1787.

The debates on the Constitution did not go smoothly at first. In fact, Benjamin Franklin recommended they begin daily prayers to help the process along. Eventually they came together to produce the Constitution -- the most successful governing document in world history. It was signed on September 17, 1787, a day we now celebrate as "Constitution Day."

The Federal Convention convened in the State House (Independence Hall) in Philadelphia on May 14, 1787, to revise the Articles of Confederation. Because the delegations from only two states were at first present, the member adjourned from day to day, until a quorum of seven states was obtained on May 25.

Through discussion and debate, it became clear by mid-June that, rather than amend the existing Articles, the Convention would draft an entirely new frame of government. All through the summer, in closed sessions, the delegates debated, and re-drafted the articles of a new Constitution.

Among the chief points at issue were how much power to allow the central government, how many representatives in Congress to allow each state, and how these representatives should be elected -- directly by the people or by the state legislators. The work of many minds, the Constitution stands as a model of cooperative statesmanship and the art of compromise.

Many delegates expressed their belief that writing the Constitution would not have been possible without the Divine aid they personally witnessed and openly acknowledged.

Alexander Hamilton said:

"For my own part, I sincerely esteem it a system, which without the finger of God, never could have been suggested and agreed upon by such a diversity of interests."

James Madison agreed:

"It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it the finger of the Almighty Hand, which has been so frequently and signally extended to o9ur relief in the critical stages of the Revolution."

Ben Franklin and George Washington also expressed similar convictions.

Many delegates involved with writing the Constitution were trained in theology or ministry, including: Abraham Baldwin, James Wilson, Hugh Williamson, Oliver Ellsworth, and others. The Constitution was then sent to the states to be ratified, and about four dozen clergymen were elected from among the various states as delegates to ratify the Constitution. The influence of Biblical faith on that document was apparent, and under it, Americans have been blessed!

As President Calvin Coolidge affirmed:

"[T]he more I study [the Constitution], the more I have come to admire it, realizing that no other document devised by the hand of man ever brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. . . To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that has ever occurred to the human race."

Because the Constitution is such a unique and remarkable document, federal law requires that every year on Constitutional Day, all public schools must hold a special program on the Constitution; sadly, few schools follow this law. Therefore, each of us should read and know that document, and teach it to others.

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