United States Constitution: National Icon

Figure 1.--Here a Scout troop in 1937 looks at the U.S. Constiution. For most of its history it was held by the State Departmehnt and not on public display. At the time these Scouts viewed it, the document was held in the Library of Congress. It is now on display at the National Archives.

The Constitution today is along with the flag, the two basic icons of the American Republic. This was not the case in the early years of the Republic. The two political parties that emerged were the Federalists (those who supported the Federal Constitution) and the Anti-Federalists (thoise with great reservations about he Federal Constitution. The early Federalists were Washigton, Adams, and Hamilton. The early anti-Federalists who evolved into the Democratic Republicans were led by Jeffereson. Ironically Jefferson was joined by Madison who the most important figure in crafting the Constitution. Once the Democratic-Republicans gined control of the Federal Government, their concern over the Constitution itself melted away. They saw that they could persue their political nd economic controls through the once feared Constitution. Thus while the Federalists disappeared as a political opposition, the Federal Constitution they championed slowly evolved into a revered icon of American democracy. Tis occurred slowly as the constitution both grew in age and the power and success of the American Republic ibcreased. No other written constitution has endured more than two centuries or sucesfully governed the political and economic life of a great power. And such is the standing of the Constitution, that politicans who seem to challenge the Constitution can run into considerable trouble. Even as brilliant a politican as Franklin Roosevelt was significantly weakened when his court packing attempt was seen as an assault on the Constitution.


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Created: 1:33 AM 2/26/2010
Last updated: 1:33 AM 2/26/2010