On the 21st of this June, Americans celebrated the 228th anniversary of the nation’s Constitution, making it the world’s oldest existing governing body of laws. It was then that our founding fathers met in their effort to form a union more perfect than the one under which the thirteen sovereign states had been operating since 1781, the original Articles of Confederation. While the new document was written and ratified in a far different age by men who certainly could not have foreseen what their new nation would become more than two-and-a-quarter centuries in the future, their extraordinary prescience has allowed the basic document to withstand the tests of time and travail. As proof of this, aside from the first ten amendments to the Constitution (eleven, if one counts the latest Congressional salary amendment in 1992 which was ratified over 202 years after its initial submission with the Bill of Rights in 1789), out of the more than 11,500 changes that have been proposed by Congress over the years, our nation has seen fit to actually amend the original document a mere sixteen additional times.
Even though the new Constitution injected the hope of insuring domestic tranquility, the following seven decades of the nation’s history were anything but tranquil.