Constitutional Timeline





Constitutional Timeline

Over 200 decades, the American constitution has evolved and undergone numerous amendments to the voting age, limiting presidential term in office and laws governing the state. The evolution was also a premeditated notion by the Founding Fathers as it is illustrated in Article 5 that suggested that two-thirds of the Congress from both house were at liberty to amend the constitution as they deemed it fit. States were also given a platform to propose constitutional amendments requiring three fourths of the states approval for the amendment to become a law. American Constitution has been amended 27 times over the past 20 decades with majority of the amendments aimed at protecting the rights of the American citizens. Several events played an imperative role in the birth of the American constitution. The analysis of these events is intended to portray the significance these events contribute to the conception of the United States Constitution.

  1. Magna Carta (1215)

This was a charter of English civil and political liberties approved by King John at Runnymede in June 1215. It was the earliest document in the political history, which a king was forced to sign by his subjects, the feudal barons, in an effort to limit his power. This permitted the development of an authoritative parliament. The king committed several erroneous acts that propelled the signing of the Magna Carta. The events included his scuffle with Pope Innocent the third. The affliction was created by the refusal of the king to appoint Stephen Langton, specially elected by the pope himself to be the archbishop of Canterbury. The taxes levied by the king were exorbitant and the penalties issues out against defaulters were callous. After confrontations between the king and the Barons as regard to his rulership method, the Barons with the support of the Stephen Langton decided to reprimand the king and compel him to govern the state by the old English laws. In June, the Barons meet the king at Windsor after which he agreed to sign and seal the oath at Runnymede.

The Magna Carta is significant to the American constitution because it is considered basis of the English liberties hence American liberties as the United States was a colonized by the Englishmen who came with their charters. Its influence is impeccably seen in the United States constitution and Bill of Rights (Amar, 2006). In a fight against Britain, the American colonist fought for their rights and liberties that was preserved in the Magna Carta and was incorporated in the Bill of Rights (Farber & Sherry, 2005). Articles 21 in the Maryland Constitution from the Declaration of Rights, reads: That no freeman ought to be taken, or imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties, or privileges, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any manner destroyed, or deprived of his life, liberty, or property, but by the judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land.”

  1. .Mayflower Compact (1620)

This compact was signed by 41 English colonists on board the ship Mayflower on the November 11, 1620 prior to its landing at Plymouth, Massachusetts. . It was the primary written scaffold of government enacted in the land now known as the United States of America. It was drafted by Pilgrim leaders among them William Brewster and William Bradford to solve a conflict that had emerged between the English Separatists and the rests of the travelers on board the ship. The conflict arose from the legal uncertainty they faced as they were no longer under the command of the charter granted by the Virgin Company unto them .In the Compact, the signatories decided to be bound into a society to assist them to further their aims and also preserver order. They also agreed to uphold the laws and abide by them (Farber & Sherry, 2005). Its authority was handed over to John Carver, who assisted in organizing the expedition

Mayflower compact became groundwork of Plymouths government and continued to remain active until 1691, when the colony was riveted into the Massachusetts Bay colony. The significance of this compact on evolution on the government of United States was that with its fundamental principles of common consent and self-government. Its importance lies in the certainty that a government is a covenant and for its legitimacy, it must originate from the approval of the governed thus forming America’s first constitution.


  1. Declaration of Independence (1776)

The Declaration of Independence was drafted by Thomas Jefferson. The political ideologies in the Declaration were not new as they had been previously expressed. He enlisted complaints against the King to validate to the world as to why America cut links with its mother country. It is the founding document of the political tradition present in the American government. It states the centralized ideas that constitute the nation. It declared to the world the unanimously formed decision of thirteen American colonies to detach themselves from Great Britain. The Declaration’s most significant diplomatic effect and significance in the evolution of the American government was that it permitted the recognition of the United States by friendly foreign powers (Finkelman & National Geographic Society, 2006). It signified the declaration of a new foundation of political authenticity in the sovereignty of a nation. The Declaration conceived America and with it a new order of ages in the history of human sovereignty.


  1. Articles of Confederation (1777)

The Articles of Confederation served as a United States primary constitution after its declaration of independence from Great Britain. It was implemented from March 1, 1781, until 1789 when it was overshadowed the present day Constitution. The Articles were written during the era of American Revolution by a Second Continental Congress. Due to the experienced they had faced with Great Britain, the states feared a central government. The congress had been vigilant in giving the states as much liberty and freedom. The Articles established a amalgamation of sovereign states though tactfully giving terms on the limited functions of the centralized regime.

The Articles of Confederation illustrate an attempt to control the power of the central rule but the Articles had no ample influence to govern effectively resulting to grim international and national tribulations. The utmost weakness was the inability top control trade and levy taxes (Amar, 2006).The failure of the Articles of Confederation acted as a lesson to the Congress who then revised the articles in 21 February 1787. The present day constitution was written retaining some of the features of that Confederation Articles but awarding more influence to the centralized government. The significance of these Articles is that they acted as templates of the Constitution for the United States, which was a perfected version of the article.

  1. .Federalist Papers (1787-1788)

Federalist papers were a sequence of 85 articles, which were written by John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison. The articles were aimed urging the New York citizens to approve the proposed United States Constitution. The Federalist Papers were viewed to be one of the most imperative sources fro understanding and interpreting the intentions behind the Constitution.

The significance of the Federalist articles was to acts contemporary account of the intentions of the ratifiers and framers of the Constitution. In the evolution of the American Constitution

In conclusion, the events aforementioned were significant in the conception of the American Constitution. They focused of protecting and preserving the rights and liberties American citizens while instilling law and order. They progression from Magna Carta to Federalist Papers offer a well illustrated chronological order of events in history clearly illustration the birth and maturation of the Constitution as it underwent numerous amendments to ensure its perfection. The declaration of independence of the United States offered a platform for a proper Constitution to be created and implemented. Both success and failures of the attempts to perfect the Constitution played a great role in making the American Constitution what it is today.



Farber, D. A., & Sherry, S. (2005). A history of the American Constitution. St. Paul: Thomson/West.

Finkelman, P., & National Geographic Society (U.S.). (2006). The constitution. Washington, D.C: National Geographic Society.

Amar, A. R. (2006). America‘s constitution: A biography. New York: Random House.

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