The United States Constitution is regarded as the most important document in the country’s history (Kelly, 1991). It was written during the Convention at Philadelphia, in 1787. Up to now, the document has been reviewed for over twenty five times. The original copy is kept in the National Archives in the United States.
The process of acquisition of the Constitution was a long one and involved many people and efforts. The document put into consideration fundamental issues that affected the Americans and tried to regulate them. The Constitution regulated the rights of the individuals, economic environments, and the mode of governance. It regulated the rights, authority, and obligations of the president and administration, to ensure that the American people are provided the best services by the government and its agencies. Provision of social amenities and other vital facilities is well elaborated in the Constitution. As it was the most influential document, it was strictly followed and respected by all American citizens. The same trend has been maintained up to now and, notably, during the swearing in of senior members of the government; the oath demands that they abide to the Constitution at all levels of their service. Therefore, the importance and seriousness of the American Constitution can never be overlooked.
During the period of over 350 years, between 1492 and 1876, there were many events that shaped the history of the United States of America. Most of them were regarded as significant or even crucial ones, and a timeline would highlight the most important depending on the field of interest. However, the creation of the Constitution has never been overlooked by any of the fields that attempted to create a timeline, because the US Constitution managed to cover all aspects of the Americans’ lives unlike most of the other events that happened during this period. Therefore, the creation and enactment of the Constitution has been regarded as the most crucial event during this long period. This paper will demonstrate the importance of the Constitution in comparison with several other turning points that occurred during the same period.
The Discovery of America - 1492
When Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World on the 12th of October 1492, a large step towards the foundation of the current United States was made (Zinn, 2010). The seafarer went there for a holiday, only to realize that it was a completely new land, which had not been inhabited yet. He named it the New World. Since the year, the 12th of October had been celebrated in most of the American states and cities as the day when their land was discovered. The discovery of America was an extremely important historic event because, after it, people started to move into America and create the US nation. There had been no settlement before the event, and since this time, massive immigration from Europe had started and lasted for several decades until there was a need to have some regulation on the immigration processes.
The discovery has been regarded as a vital point in the American history; however, the ability to govern millions of people who immigrated to the country was more important. The population that came from different cultural, economic, and social backgrounds was hard to control, and new rules to govern and make them equal were required. Without this tool, the country would not have survived. Therefore, the Constitution laid a level ground for all the foreigners to gel into one social group no matter how largely their backgrounds differed. This way, the diverse population would remain economically, socially, and culturally unique, united, and productive. Under such circumstances, development and enactment of the US constitution became a more significant event in the American history than the discovery of the New World.
The Formation of Jamestown in Virginia- 1607
Jamestown was a permanent English settlement in the Colony of Virginia. It was the capital of Virginia from 1616 to 1699 (Zinn, 2010). Initially, it had about 14000 natives of Paspahegh tribe. The natives gave the English a warm welcome into their land and provided them with all support they needed to settle down. Since the English did not orient in agriculture, the Paspahegh provided them with the basics and helped to settle on their land. However, due to the colonial mentality that the English possessed, the relation had not last for long and, after three years since the first English settlement, warfare between the English and the natives broke out. After the warfare, the English won, took over the land, and invited the Dutch and the Poles, as well as the first Africans (The introduction of other foreigners did not trigger slavery until the 1660’s). Jamestown controlled Virginia administratively until 1699 when many rebellions overcame the reigning powers of the colony.
The importance of this event in the US history could not be overlooked. It was the beginning of settlement and partitioning of America and the intrusion of many ethnic groups and races. The establishment of the administrative center at Jamestown was a demonstration of the way, to which leadership of the nation was supposed to adhere. On the other hand, the Constitution looked for avenues, to develop and maintain peace among the natives and the foreigners. The Constitution, therefore, remains superior as compared to any other event, in the period between 1492 and 1876.
Development of the Articles of Confederation - 1781
The document was initially known as the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. It was developed and used by the founding states of the USA. Moreover, it was applied as the first Constitution. The first draft of this document was issued in 1776 while the improved version was forwarded for ratification by representatives of the 13 states the year that followed. In 1781, the document became operational and started to be used as the law of the country (Zinn, 2010). It empowered and facilitated diplomatic relations and trade with foreign countries, especially India and European states. The Articles, however, possessed a significant drawback in that the government that the document created was weak and did not have strong policies that could support new nation and economy. It was, therefore, inevitable for the nationalists to develop a better governing law that would form a strong government. This events and circumstances led to the development of the current Constitution of the US, which replaced the Articles, in 1789. Nevertheless, the development of the Articles was marked as an important point in the US timeline.
Even though the articles were successful, they formed a weak government and could not manage the growing American economy and society. The development and implementation of the current Constitution was, therefore, a larger step than the development of the Articles. The Constitution can be considered a far more important event in the American history than ratification of the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.
Emancipation Proclamation - 1863
On the 1st of January 1863, the then American president, Abraham Lincoln, issued an executive order. This happened at the period when America was in the Civil War. The order demanded that all slaves in the ten states of America were released (Holzer, Medford, & Williams, 2006). This move made over 3.1 million slaves being freed. However, the emancipation had a loophole in that it did not illegalize slavery as a phenomenon, give citizenship to the released slaves, or even compensate the slave owners for the lost of the labor force. In 1865, after a long struggle by the slaves and some of the government agents, slavery was illegalized and eradicated. This was a great and memorable moment in the history of America since it was the beginning of the anti-racism and respect for all humans era in the country.
However, no matter how big the emancipation was, it failed to surpass the importance of the Constitution. When issuing the order, President Lincoln applied the power that the Constitution bestowed on him. He used the Second Article, section 2 of the Constitution, which recognizes him as the Commander and Chief of the Navy and the US army. Without the Constitution, the president would have been under tougher circumstances in making his decision since he would have no supporting document to help him account for his action. Therefore, emancipation was an extraordinary event in the American history, but even it could not surpass the Constitution, which gave the legal facilitation of any governmental decision or process.
The importance of theConstitution of the US cannot be overlooked at any level, as it is not only among the oldest constitutions in the world but also among the most effective ones (Kelly, 1991). It has served many generations and, apart from a few changes, the original idea, and perspective remained immutable. It ensured that America had remained the world’s superpower for several centuries and incorporated among the largest group of people from different backgrounds. From this Constitution, effective anti-racial, economic, and investment environments have been created. It has gelled cultures from all over the world to become productive in all aspects thus maintaining the superpower status of the nation for ages. The rights of all citizens have been well explained, and all people have received the ability to be treated equally. Furthermore, according to the Constitution, a strong government has been carved to give good political, as well as strong and reliable judicial, systems.
The Constitution formed the background of all developments and progressive steps in the United States (Kelly, 1991). Even though some other events have been significant in creating and shaping the American history, their importance is either obsolete and remains in the archives or may not have the same effects as they had at the time they took place. The Constitution, on the other hand, has remained strong in keeping the nation together, as well as ensuring an overall development of the country; thus, this document is unrivalled in the American history.