Today in American History: March 4th

Today in American History: March 4th

The history of our great nation has always been a passion of mine, which is why I graduated with a bachelors degree in it. I love sharing facts about our country and history, and thought it would be fun to do a new series on the blog! Today in history posts to share little glimpses of the past. Every Monday I want to pick one topic and go in depth. For the first post I thought what better topic than to discuss the US Constitution?


March 4th, 1789

Let's take a glimpse into post Revolutionary War America for a minute. The United States, a brand new nation, had just won its independence from Great Britain. But the father's of this young country thought to themselves, "Now what?" They needed a governing body, but were pushing against one that was too strict, since that's the government they'd just broken away from.

The Articles of Confederation were what they came up with. By 1786 they learned the hard way that there were too many flaws in the current system. A well known, and violent rebellion in Massachusetts during 1786 and 1787 brought attention to the need for reformation. At the end of the Revolutionary War, the United States was in a debt crisis. But without the authority to levy taxes, there was no way for the government to dig themselves out. Massachusetts may have been the focal point of Shays' Rebellion, but other states throughout the union experienced the same economic hardships. This sparked a need for the founding fathers to return to the drawing board. 

 At the end of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787, the new United States Constitution was signed by 38 out of the 41 delegates. This new constitution created a strong federal government, but included a multitude of checks and balances to protect the citizens. 

Although the constitution had be drafted and signed, it could not be binding until 9 out of the 13 states ratified it. In early December of 1787 five states (Delaware, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Georgia) quickly ratified it. 

Some states, such as Massachusetts, refused to ratify it based on the lack of specific rights protecting citizens. Such as: the right to bear arms, freedom of speech, etc. A compromise was quickly reached in February of 1788, when Congress assured that amendments would immediately be added. This brought along Maryland, South Carolina, and Massachusetts to ratify the constitution. 

On June 21, 1788 New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the constitution, thus making it binding. On March 4, 1789 the newly ratified constitution was put into effect. And on September 25, 1789 the Bill of Rights ( the first 10 amendments) were added to the United States Constitution. This led to the last of the states to ratify the constitution. 

The constitution is the backbone of this country. Our founding fathers wanted better for us, to protect us from a tyrannical government. Without it, we wouldn't be the land of the free and home of the brave. 


Here are the first 10 amendments (better known as the Bill of Rights):

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.







Bill of Rights Citation: 
“The Bill of Rights: A Transcription.” National Archives and Records Administration. Accessed March 4, 2024.
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