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Northwest Ordinance of 1787 Bill of Rights

C. United States Constitution    1787
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After the thirteen states won their independence by defeating Great Britain in the Revolutionary War, certain state leaders decided that all states should be united under a national government which was stronger than their present government. These leaders met in a convention in Philadelphia. They decided to write a new constitution.

The Constitution established the form, powers and duties of our national government. It divided the powers and duties among three branches of government: legislative, executive and judicial. This is called separation of powers. It also established a system of checks and balances between the three branches, so that no branch could become too powerful.

Some people were afraid that this new constitution would make the national govenment too powerful and state governments too weak. These people were called Anti-Federalists. They complained that the Constitution had nothing which listed people's basic freedoms. Supporters of the Constitution, called Federalists, answered some of the fears of the Anti-Federalists by promising that a bill listing these freedoms would be added to the Constitution.

Special state conventions were called to ratify the Constitution. Soon after the Constitution was ratified, the first ten amendments were added. These are often called the Bill of Rights. A total of 27 amendments have been adopted. The provisions of the Constitution, as amended, are the most powerful set of laws in our nation.

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