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Constitution, U.S.

Adopted at a special convention that met in Philadelphia the summer of 1787 and then ratified by state conventions during the years 1787–1790, the U.S. Constitution is the second constitution of the national government of the United States and for over 200 years has provided the principal American model for limited constitutional government under the rule of law.

By the mid-1780s, many Americans had become quite unhappy with the first national constitution, the Articles of Confederation. The Articles had created a national government with limited powers, vested in a Congress, but the state governments retained most powers, including the power to levy taxes to pay the expenses of the national government. The impetus for the Constitution arose from a 1786 conference in Annapolis, Maryland, where ...

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