Re: the significance, if any, of the Declaration of Independence

Anton Sherwood (
Tue, 10 Mar 1998 21:33:21 -0700

> > Michael Lorrey wrote:
> > > the Declaration of Independece [....]
> > > made no mention of the United States of America (indeed, for that political
> > > entity was not to exist for another 16+ years thereafter, and was actually a
> > > succeeding organization to the Congress under the Articles of Confederation.),

> Anton Sherwood wrote:
> > Er, you mean 6 years?

Michael Lorrey wrote:
> The D of I was signed in 1776. While the Revolutionary war dragged on till the Treaty
> of Paris was signed in 1783, The Articles of Confederation were passed by Congress on
> November 17, 1777, and were ratified by March 1, 1781.

My error: I was thinking they came a bit later. But anyway, the
Articles certainly constituted "United States of America" and used that

> This Confederation lasted
> throught the war, and in 1787, a Constitutional Convention to draft a formal
> constitution. The Constitution of the United States, passed by the convention in
> September of 1787,was ratified in 1791 by the 9th ratifying state, New Hampshire,

Nope. That happened June 21, 1788. The First Congress assembled March
4, 1789.

> which also ratified the Bill of Rights, a Document of Constitutional Amendments that
> was passed not by the Contitutional Convention, but by the first Congress under that
> Constitution. [...]

Congress could not propose any Amendments before the ninth state had
ratified the Constitution!

Congress proposed a dozen Amendments on September 25, 1789; ten of them
received the last of the necessary ratifications December 15, 1791.
(The remaining founder states - Massachusetts, Georgia and Connecticut -
ratified them in 1939.)

> So it took 15 years for the US Constitution to come into effect.

Um, okay -- this is true in one sense, but false in at least three
better senses. The first constitution of the United States of America
was adopted within five years; the second was adopted within thirteen
years; it was slightly modified two years later, as you so rightly point
out; it has been more deeply modified several times since. Not to
belittle the Bill of Rights, but it has little or no effect on the
*structure* of the government.

> > > so it has very little in relation to the Constitution other than sharing the
> > > same author.
> >
> > Well, the institutional author of the Constitution was a successor
> > to the institutional author of the Declaration, but that's about it.
> And Thomas Jefferson was both the Author of the D of I as well as the Preamble of the
> Constitution.

Neat trick: in 1787 he was in France.

"How'd ya like to climb this high without no mountain?" --Porky Pine
Anton Sherwood   *\\*   +1 415 267 0685
!! visiting New Mexico, end of March !!