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Writing the Most Important Document in History

September 17, 2012

Have you ever been involved in an organization where you write the bylaws, mission statements and other things that set up and guide an organization? Every word matters to make sure the meaning and intention carries through for those who might be reading 10 years, 20 years from now. Now magnify that. One of the most long lasting and important documents has it’s ‘birthday’ today. People have died for it. People have attacked it. Tried to use parts of it for their own gain. And yet it holds, in law and in spirit centuries later.

On September 17, 1787 America was a new country. Untamed, battle scarred, independent and looking for guidance. The founding fathers had their work cut out for them.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We the People. It’s just over 4,400 words that is the shortest written constitution of any major government in the world, but it’s words that have held strong for over 200 years. From 26 year old Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey to 81 year old Benjamin Franklin, who is said to have signed with tears streaming down his face, it’s a document that launched a country. Much has changed since the document was signed. At that time, the United States population was at 4 million people, with the largest city being Philadelphia at 40,000 residents. Delegates from the new states approved the constitution, and it became effective in June 1788. Less than a year later was the first election, and first Congress held in New York City.

George Washington became the president on April 30, 1789. “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence – it is a force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master; never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”

In appreciation for writers that launched freedom, a land that, while imperfect, is bigger and more advanced than they ever could have dreamed. May we never take it for granted.

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