Description of the Example
The selected example of the archive document is the Constitution of the United States. It can be accessed at the website of the National Archives.
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The document consists of four handwritten pages. It comprises seven articles, which united the citizens of the country in their desire to become a nation. It is available both online and at the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom at the National Archives Museum.
Origins and Context
The Constitution was shaped by many ideas and experienced, which preceded its ratification in 1787. Some researchers find the roots of the Constitution as far as in the Mayflower Compact of 1620 (Graber, Levinson, & Tushnet, 2015). However, the 1780s are considered to be the critical period for the creation of the primary document of the country. At that time, the national government was losing its power. The Articles of Confederation, a document which preceded the Constitution, were issued in 1971. Under the Articles, the first two Continental Congresses were held (Graber et al., 2015). According to the Articles, Confederation Congress became a pillar of national government. Still, the Articles had several significant drawbacks, such as the support of centralization of power, a short period of service for legislators, and no particular algorithm for electing a leader. Therefore, this document could not satisfy all the states, which already had their governments and were ready to fight for their rights. The Constitutional Convention and further debate over ratification was a long and complicated process. Both Federalists and Anti-Federalists had their arguments and did not want to yield on an issue of the Constitution. Finally, after the constitutional amendments were suggested, including the Bill of Rights, the Constitution was ratified.
Being the major document of the country, the Constitution has a significant impact on legislation and the government of the United States. The articles of the Constitution and its amendments are frequently manipulated by American political parties to attract the attention of citizens or state authorities. One of the recent examples of addressing the Constitution in the contemporary political life of the United States is the use of the First Amendment by the Conservatives to appeal to the Supreme Court and attract attention to some “contentious political and cultural issues” (Williams, 2018, para. 3).
One of the representative cases is that of Jack Philips, the baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple because of his religious beliefs and had to explain his position to Colorado Civil Rights Commission. On the one hand, he refused to follow both state and federal anti-discrimination laws. On the other hand, forcing him to take this order is a violation of his rights guaranteed by the First Amendment (Williams, 2018). The issue raised by the Conservatives and the Institute for Free Speech discloses another side of the right to speak, which is the right not to speak. This aspect is another proof that despite the existing explanations of the Constitution and its amendments, there are still many ways to treat the document.
On the whole, the Constitution has a substantial influence on the political life of the United States. Moreover, it predetermines the activities of the government. Finally, the constitution is used both as a source and as a tool in legislative processes.
The Constitution of the United States. (2017). Web.
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Graber, M., Levinson, S., & Tushnet, M. (2015). The Oxford handbook of the U.S. Constitution. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Williams, J. P. (2018). The right’s first amendment push. U.S.News. Web.