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001 What is the supreme law of the land?

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A: Principles of American Democracy

1. What is the supreme law of the land?
Answer: The Constitution

Explanation:
Back in 1787, more than 200 years ago, the United States of America didn’t exist the way it does today. There were just 13 states, and after they gained independence from Great Britain, they had a very weak government. They struggled to survive (or continue to exist) for several years with this weak government, but they had many problems. So the 13 states decided to work together and write a new document (or written record) to make the country stronger and more unified (or as one group), so they could work better together as one nation. They called this new document the Constitution.

The word “Constitution” comes from the verb to constitute, meaning to put things together. The Constitution joined (or put together) the 13 states into a new country. Since that time, the Constitution has been the supreme (or highest) law in the United States. Everyone who lives in the United States must obey (or follow) the Constitution. If there is a disagreement over whether something is legal (agrees with the law) or illegal (against the law), we use the Constitution to help us to resolve (or decide) the issue. That’s why it is the highest and most important legal document in the country.

The Constitution was written during the summer of 1787 at a meeting called the Constitutional Convention in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was a long, hot summer that year when the 55 delegates (or representatives) met to write this new set of laws. Everyone had a different opinion (or thought or belief) about how the new government should be organized. This is not surprising, since the delegates had many different experiences and backgrounds. They were lawyers, teachers, doctors, and military men, and more. The delegates also had some things in common: they were all white men (no women or non-whites were allowed to participate in the Constitutional Convention), and they were all wealthy (or had a lot of money) and owned land. The president (or leader) of the Convention was the famous military general, George Washington, who later became the first president of the United States.

The delegates discussed and argued for many weeks, but they finally agreed on a set of laws that would form (or create) their new government. The document they produced (or made) is what we call the Constitution.

Glossary

document – a written record; a report, policy, law, essay, or anything else that is written down to share information
* We had to sign a lot of documents when we bought our home.

unified – as one group; together
* Environmental groups would be stronger if they were unified, but in reality, they fight with each other too much.

Constitution – the most important legal document in the United States, describing the national government and how it should work
* The first three words of the U.S. Constitution are "We the People."

supreme – highest; most powerful; most important; best; the biggest possible
* The supreme challenge for the future is finding a good source of energy other than oil.

to obey – to follow; to listen to; to do what one is told to do
* When you were a teenager, did you obey your parents?

to resolve – to find a solution to a problem; to decide something; to bring an end to a problem or situation
* After fighting for two weeks, they resolved their disagreement and became friends again.

delegate – representative; a person who is sent to a meeting or other event by and for another person
* I couldn't go to the meeting of nations last week, but I sent my assistant as a delegate.

wealthy – rich; with a lot of money
* She believes that wealthy people should give some of their money to poor people.

to form – to create; to make; to establish
* That organization was formed by a group of scientists in 1932.