The constitution is a great place to start to better understand the United States of America. The document was written at the beginning of the nation’s establishment and serves as a magnificently drafted blueprint for government.
The United States Constitution comprises seven sections or articles detailing the core components of how the national government runs the country.
Here is an overview of what each article covers.
Article I of the Constitution covers the legislative branch. The principal mission of this branch is to make laws. Congress is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Congress is a body that can draft and pass laws, borrow money for the United States, declare war, and raise a military.
It also works by limiting and balancing the power of the other two federal branches that make up the government – the judicial branch and the executive branch.
Article II explains the executive branch. The branch of the government, known as the executive branch, manages the daily operations of the government.
By using various departments and agencies, such as the Department of the Treasury, the executive branch is probably one of the fastest-moving branches of the federal government.
While made up of multiple divisions, each department is headed by its own secretary, who all report to the President of the United States.
Article III reviews the judicial branch. The federal court system is part of the judicial branch. Article III states that the final court is the US Supreme Court.
Working with Congress, the United States Supreme Court can determine the size and scope of any courts below the Supreme Court.
All judges on this court are appointed for life unless they decide to resign or are charged with bad behavior. If a judge is impeached, they can only be removed in the wake of a trial and a two-thirds majority vote of the Senate.
Article IV is related to the rights and roles of state government. The federal government guarantees a republic form of government in each state, protects the entire nation from violence, and determines how any new states can join the Union.
It also states that the states are equal and should have mutual respect for each other’s laws and any judicial decisions made by the state court systems.
Article IV overviews the states’ rights, the relationship of the federal government to the state government, and the states’ relationship with each other.
Article V of the constitution creates a mechanism for changes to the constitution. While the constitution can never be dissolved, it can be amended if it goes through the amendment process.
Both the states and Congress can initiate the process of amending the United States Constitution. Since the constitution was written, there have been multiple amendments made.
These amendments are usually warranted when problems or concerns develop which were not foreseen or addressed by the original constitution.
Article VI reviews debts, supremacy, and oaths. The article determines that the constitution and all of the laws that come from it serve as the supreme law of the land.
All officials in the United States are required to swear an oath that they will uphold the constitution.
This article is designed to ensure that the United States Constitution remains a document held in high regard and used to make the primary decisions for the nation.
Article VII details that only nine of the original 13 states were required to approve the document for the United States Constitution to be ratified.
While the number of states has grown since the constitution was signed, their signatures verify who signed the original document and that all of the interested parties witnessed it.
This does not guide the future of the national government but serves as a statement that it was agreed upon by the required number of colonies.
Understanding the Seven Articles of the US Constitution
These seven articles may appear fairly broad, but their function is to serve as a framework for the United States.
The constitution provides and limits power and outlines a system of checks and balances to avoid any branch having too much power. This is an important function and remains an active document today.
Famous Signatories of the United States Constitution
Famous signatories of the United States Constitution include:
- George Washington
- James Madison
- Benjamin Franklin
- Alexander Hamilton
- and Gouverneur Morris.
Interestingly, Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and John Adams did not sign the constitution. Both men were on diplomatic missions in Europe when the document was being signed at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.