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Constitutions » U.S.Constitution » Introduction

The Constitution of the United States of America is the fundamental law of the United States, drafted in Philadelphia in 1787, ratified in 1788, and put into effect in 1789. It established a strong federal central government in place of the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution establishes our government as a republic, as opposed to a democracy.

The Constitution contains seven Articles that outline the document. Article One describes the legislative branch of the federal government. Article Two describes the office of the President of the United States. Article Three describes the judicial branch, including the Supreme Court. Article Four outlines the relation between the states and the relation between each state and the federal government. Article Five oulines the process of amending the Constitution. Article Six establishes the Constitution, and all federal laws and treaties of the United States made according to it to be the supreme law of the land. Article Seven describes the process for establishing the proposed new frame of government.

The Constitution has been amended 27 times with the last amendment coming in 1992. The first ten amendments are called the Bill of Rights and are granted to every U.S. citizen. Other important amendments inclue the 13th amendment which abolished slavery, the 15th amendment prohibits the denial of the right to vote based on one's race or color, and the 19th amendment with prohibits the denial of the right to vote based on one's sex.

U.S. Constitution image
The Constitution of the United States
Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives