Return to story
LIGHT THE CANDLES: The U.S.
The 42 men who gathered in Philadelphia to forge the document could hardly have foreseen the demands that would be placed on it centuries later, or the country it would create. The failure of the Articles of Confederation, which had prescribed a central government that was far too weak, forced the Founding Fathers to try a new approach.
With the Constitution, the Founders were attempting to patch together a collection of diverse and geographically separated states to create one beautiful national patchwork quilt. The genius of their achievement is in the Constitution's attempts to balance power between the states and the federal government, between the branches of the federal government, and between the people and the government. Although it took a bloody Civil War and 27 amendments to sculpt the document, its general thrust remains essentially the same as the originators envisioned.
Thomas Jefferson described the perfect government as one that is "wise and frugal which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned." Though some adjustments will invariably be required by time and circumstances, adherence to the founding principles will continue to provide the best chance for freedom and prosperity that the world has ever known.