On September 17, 1787, 39 delegates of the Constitutional Convention made history by signing their names to the United States Constitution. Now, 228 years later, we at the ACLU continue to work everyday to make good on the promises of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We hope Americans across the country will join us in celebrating this anniversary by taking the time to learn about the Constitution and their rights. After all, knowing your rights is the first step in protecting your rights. To help start you off, we’re offering 10 facts about the document that guarantees the fundamental rights and freedoms

  1. The U.S. Constitution established the government we still have today. It established three separates branches of government—the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch—and a system of “checks and balances” to ensure no single part of the government had too much power.
  2. The Constitution didn’t go into effect until 1789 after the required number of states (nine) ratified it.
  3. The Bill of Rights, which limits government power and lists certain fundamental individual rights, wasn’t officially proposed until 1789. It was ratified 1791.
  4. James Madison is known as the “Father of the Constitution.” He also introduced the amendments that would become the Bill of Rights to the First Congress.
  5. Rhode Island did not send a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and did not ratify the Constitution until May 29, 1790, making it the last state of the original 13 states to do so.
  6. The word “democracy” is not found in the Constitution.
  7. The Constitution is difficult to change or amend. Since 1787, only 33 proposed amendments have gone to the states for ratification and only 27 have become amendments.
  8. The 18th Amendment, which prohibited alcoholic beverages in the country, is the only amendment to have ever been repealed in its entirety.
  9. The U.S. Constitution is the oldest and shortest national constitution.
  10. The Constitution is the law of the land in the U.S. Every state has its own constitution, too. Read Rhode Island’s here.

Want to learn more about the U.S. Constitution and your rights here in Rhode Island? Check out our Know Your Rights materials and join us this Saturday, September 19, for a Constitution Day Scavenger Hunt around Providence!