The Constitutional Convention

ryanGovernment(ML), Mini Lessons

Common Sense Government eBook: The Constitution

Did the Convention overstep its authority right from the first? The Constitution was not a revision of the Articles in any real sense, but revision of the Articles required unanimous consent. Given that Rhode Island did not even send delegates, there was a deep legal problem with the entire affair. Making matters worse, only 9 states initially approved the Constitution … On the other hand, Convention delegates argued that the Articles were so deficient that it would be impossible for the Convention to meet its obligation of revising them. They simply declared the Articles null and void.

  1. We think of the Constitution as something that has always been there, and not radically new. Reflecting on the video, how did those writing the Constitution think about what they were doing? What distinguishes the process of the American Constitution from previous occasions when new governments were formed?
  2. Does it matter that the Founding Fathers did not have the legal authority to tear up the Articles of Confederation and start over? How do illegitimate acts become legitimate? Simply through the passage of time? Or is there something else?

This reading is an excerpt from Certell’s Common Sense Government eBook.  Certell offers curriculum materials and eBooks free of charge for use by students and teachers.  Click here to download the Common Sense Government materials.

Image Citation:

[The Constitutional Convention of 1787 Digital image]. Retrieved from