One of America’s most important documents, the United States Constitution, has recently
surpassed its 230th birthday, and that, paired with the 4th of July’s passing, made me realize
that many Americans don’t know the significance and the history of our great country. Learning
these details help teach us where we came from and what we can do to make sure that terrible
events that happened in the past never happen again. The United States Constitution played a
crucial role in developing the country as a whole and continues to affect current America and
other countries throughout the world.
Before the Constitution there were the Articles of Confederation. Written by John Dickinson, the
Articles of Confederation gave little power to the government and more power to the states.
There was little unity in the country at the time, and the states saw themselves as independent
nations. Recognizing this issue, representatives met at the Continental Congress in 1786 to
discuss a plan to fix the country. Later, on September 17, 1787, the constitution was signed in
conjunction with the addition of the Bill of Rights. These 10 amendments gave rights to both
the states and to each individual person as well. Since then, there hve been 17 more
amendments ratified, bringing the grand total to 27. These amendments protect our rights to
live and prosper in our changing society, and are crucial to our representation in the
But, how do amendments and the Constitution affect the current world we live in? Well, as a
teenager and student, I hear about the rights that the constitution, and the amendments that
follow it, provide for us almost every day. I listen to discussions about gun control issues
questioning a person’s second amendment rights, or rejoice at the names of civil rights leaders
and female activists that led to the institution of the fifteenth and nineteenth amendments.
These events stand as a reminder for our country, just as the Constitution stands as an
example for other countries of what a successful government looks like.
Though we don’t realize it, the United States Constitution has been used as a model for other
international governments for hundreds of years. Our policies of individual freedoms, judicial
review, and separation of powers inspired governments and nationalist movements after
countless wars. George Billias summarized my thoughts very eloquently in his book, American
Constitutionalism Heard Round the World, stating, “the influence of American constitutionalism
abroad was profound in the past and remains a remarkable contribution to humankind’s search for freedom under a system of laws.”
This is why I believe that Americans should actively be re-learning the history of America in
their own ways. The history courses you were provided in high school and college simply aren’t
enough to stay up to date with the daily changes in our history. I challenge you, once you finish
reading this article, try and remember the details of the Spanish-American War, or maybe even
who the 23rd President was. Continue to challenge yourself every day by engaging in the
culture of the past, of America, and of the whole world.
It’ll open your eyes, I promise. It opened mine.