The United States Constitution
The United States Constitution is an amazing document. A bold experiment in democracy more than 200 years ago, it has proved both stable and flexible enough to survive and remain effective in a world totally different from the one in which it was written.
The Constitution has three main functions. First, it creates a national government consisting of a legislative, an executive, and a judicial branch, with a system of checks and balances among the three branches. Second, it divides power between the federal government and the states. And third, it protects various individual liberties of American citizens.
The Constitution’s framework owes much to the history that led to its drafting. The limitations placed on the federal government and each of its branches were a reaction to the tyranny of British rule, and especially the tyranny of the single monarch. Yet the breadth of the national government’s powers was a correction to the weak government of the Articles of Confederation (the short-lived system before the present constitution), that had proved incapable of forging the thirteen original states into one nation.