How did the 13 colonies become the United States of America? PragerU discusses the revolutionary role the Constitution played in uniting the colonies, and the relationship between the federal government and the states, in its latest video.
Host Kurt Lash, Professor of Law at the University of Richmond, examines America’s founding document, breaking down the powers of the three branches of the federal government and providing details of how states function.
“When America won the Revolutionary War, the former English colonies became free and independent states — almost as if they were separate countries,” Lash said in the new PragerU video entitled “The Constitution: A Nation of States.”
“But when those states later voted to ratify the federal Constitution, they became part of an indestructible union of states under a common national government, one in which all citizens were granted the same rights,” he added.
The issue of states’ rights was more complicated during the nation’s early history when slavery was legal in some states.
Section Two of Article IV declares that “[N]o Person held to … Labour in one State … escaping into another, shall … be discharged from such … Labour, but shall be delivered up [to] the Party to whom such … Labour may be due.”
Lash noted that the word “slave” was not found in the original Constitution. He said the Founding Fathers were wary about endorsing slavery even though southern states permitted it.
Article V explains how the Constitution can be amended. The process includes a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and the Senate or a special convention called by two-thirds of the states. A proposed amendment must then be ratified by three-quarters of the states.
Lash explained that the challenging process ensured that only proposals with widespread support would lead to the passage of a Constitutional amendment.
Article VI also declared that the Constitution is the “supreme Law of the Land,” giving it priority over other laws.
Before the Constitution was ratified in 1788, America was led by the Articles of Confederation. The loose agreement lacked a central leader or national court system. It could not tax citizens to provide for the nation’s defense during times of war.
The Constitution addressed these concerns but also left many powers to individual states. This division of power, known as federalism, had not previously existed in other nations.
Lash explained that Article VII provided the process for decisions to be made by the citizens rather than a small group of elite leaders. The Constitution could not go into effect unless it was ratified by nine of the original 13 states. New Hampshire became the ninth state to do so on On June 21, 1788.
Watch the full video below:
NEW! How did thirteen separate colonies become the United States of America? The answer is found in the second half of the American Constitution—Articles IV through VII. @kurtlash1, Professor of Law at the University of Richmond, explains.https://t.co/A9KICEwe7f
— PragerU (@prageru) January 16, 2023