Part One: Informational Reading
Take some time to read of the passage below.
After years of English rule, American colonists were tired of a monarchical rule. They wanted more decisions to be made by the people. The United States was aiming to be a pure republic, in which citizens were responsible for electing the President. They also began drafting their rights and ideas for a government in the form of a Constitution. On November 15, 1777, the Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation. Under the Articles of Confederation, the states were independent of one another. The acting Congress of the time served only to appeal disputes as a last result.
The Articles of Confederation were the first acting Constitution of the United States. For ten years, the 13 states abided by these loose rules and regulations. But in 1787, the Constitutional Convention met again and replaced the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution of the United States of America. The foundation of the American government and legal system became this Constitution of the United States.
The Constitution is organized into different parts. The introduction of the Constitution is known as the preamble. The drafters of the Constitution wrote their goals and ideals for their new country into the preamble.
After the preamble, are the original seven articles of the Constitution. These articles create three distinct branches in the government, as well as establish specific rights for the states. And finally, they set into motion the process for altering the Constitution.
An article of the Constitution can be changed through an amendment. An amendment may be proposed by Congress, as long as it is backed by two-thirds of the majorities in the House and Senate. This proposed amendment can then be “ratified” by three-fourths of the states.
Initially, the Constitution did not go into detail about the rights of citizens. As a result, the first ten amendments were passed in 1791. These amendments outlined the rights of American citizens. Because of the amendment process, when we look at Constitutional Amendments, we notice the path our country has taken. From outlawing slavery, to allowing women to vote, we look at the Constitution and all of its’ amendments, and we see the great history of the United States of America.
Part Two: Practice Questions
Answer the questions below.
1. In 1920, the 19th amendment was ratified, giving women the opportunity to vote.
The word ratified in this sentence means:
Answer: B. altered
2. The preamble acts as the introduction of the Constitution. What does the preamble accomplish?
A. It explained the goals and ideals that citizens intended for the construction of America.
B. They boldly stated the settler’s differences with England
C. They outlined the rights and responsibility of American citizens.
Answer: A. It explained the goals and ideals that citizens intended for the construction of America.
3. Which of the following best summarizes the purpose of the first ten amendments to the Constitution?
A. The original drafters of the Constitution had unrealistic expectations of the American citizens.
B. While the Constitution outlined many ideals and standards, it failed to delve into the rights of the citizens.
C. The original Constitution was a statement of separation from England, and didn’t actually set up a working system.
Answer:B. While the Constitution outlined many ideals and standards, it failed to delve into the rights of the citizens.