Name: Brooke G.
School: Sheridan High School
October 15th, 2021
What does the US Constitution mean to me?
George Bernard Shaw once said, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who
cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” Life before the Constitution was chaotic. The lack of a powerful government as a whole caused the states to be divided with currency, trade, military, etc. Everything was run on a state level. The first form of action to fix the issues in government unity included creating the Articles of Confederation. This document, formed during the Second Continental Congress, attempted to establish a firm league of friendship among the states. It created a unicameral government structure that was made up of delegates that had only one vote from each state regardless of the population. The main problems presented from the Articles of Confederation was that it established no executive or judicial branch, and the Congress didn’t have the power to tax or regulate trade. There were also still debts owed by Congress to the states from the war. Seeing the lack of progress that the Articles of Confederation created, 55 of the 74 Delegates assembled in Philadelphia on May 5, 1787 to face the government issues head on. Instead of amending the Articles of Confederation, the delegates decided to create the Constitution which provided the states with a national government and fundamental laws that created equality between every single citizen. Some of the most popular Constitutional Amendments included the First Amendment and the Nineteenth Amendment.
The first topic that needed to be reiterated was freedom of the people. With this new
powerful government, the people needed to feel as if they were protected and had a say in major government decisions. This step involved the first amendment, which gives the people freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition. There is no legal age requirement needed to exercise the freedoms provided by the First Amendment. You are also not required to be a legal citizen of the United States in order to practice the First Amendment. This amendment can be used to push for social change, political change, or to oppose change. According to mtsu.edu, “The First Amendment prevents the government from requiring you to say something you don’t want to, or keeping you from hearing or reading words of others (even if you never speak out yourself, you have the right to receive information).”1 This Amendment also allows the right to pray in public schools as long as it doesn’t disrupt school operations. Without this amendment, the right to speak your opinion, practice your own religion, assemble peaceably, and petition the government for redress of grievances would not be possible. Including this amendment in the Constitution amplified its ability to protect the people and allow everyone to have equal rights as citizens in the United States of America.
Another amendment in the Constitution that improved equal rights to all citizens was the
Nineteenth Amendment. This amendment allows all citizens of the United States the right to vote regardless of sex. According to ourdocuments.gov, “Victory took decades of agitation and protest. Beginning in the mid-19th century, several generations of women suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied, and practiced civil disobedience to achieve what many Americans considered a radical change of the Constitution.”2 At the start of the 1800s thousands of women petitioned, organized, and picketed for the right to vote, but it took decades for anyone to truly hear their cry for equality. The Nineteenth Amendment was first introduced to Congress in 1878, but it wasn’t until August 18, 1920 that it was ratified for women’s suffrage. During the year 1912, approximately nine western states adopted women suffrage legislation. By the year 1916 rolled around, almost all of the major suffrage organizations united in order to pass the amendment. On May 21, 1919 the House of Representatives passed the Nineteenth Amendment, and approximately two weeks later the Senate followed with their approval. Although the campaign for women’s suffrage took countless hours of hard work and determination, women were able to gain equal rights and freedom of speech because of the Constitution.
The Constitution provides the states with a national government and fundamental laws.
Because of the government and law improvements, equality was given to every single citizen in the United States. The Constitution has given each and every single person equality and freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition. Without the creation of the Constitution, the states would still be divided, the government would have crumbled, and the progress made today wouldn’t exist.