The U.S. Constitution is the document that establishes and outlines the government of the United States of America, its three branches of government, and the power that each branch has in the functioning of government. Written in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, the U.S. Constitution emerged as the result of several brilliant, but important compromises that balanced the interests of the larger states with the protection of the smaller states.
In the wake of the American Revolution, America’s government was structured by the Articles of Confederation, which established a single Congress that could not tax and could be overruled by the states. Political paralysis led to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Overseen by George Washington, the delegates of the states eventually wrote the U.S. Constitution as having three branches for government, an executive, a judicial, and a legislative branch. Balance of power was kept in the legislature by having the House of Representatives based on population, and the Senate with two representatives from each state.
The Articles within the U.S. Constitution spell out the duties of the various branches, as well as provide for a system of checks and balances to ensure that no one branch can gain too much power over the others. Adoption of the U.S. Constitution was not assured until nine of the thirteen states ratified it, which occurred on June 21, 1788.