Founding Period
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Time Period
1783  - 1791
It wasn’t long before America’s earliest leaders realized the original Articles of Confederation weren’t strong enough to unify the individual states. On Sept. 17, 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the U.S. Constitution 'in order form a more perfect union,' as its preamble states. The Constitution called for three branches of government -- legislative, judicial and executive.

In 1789, Congress elected George Washington, the general who had led the successful fight for independence, as the first president of the United States. Two years later, in 1791, Congress approved the Bill of Rights, 10 constitutional amendments specifying fundamental rights of Americans. The First Amendment guaranteed the freedom of religion, fulfilling the dream of what Puritans had sought more than a century earlier and setting the stage for future debates over the separation of church and state.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Prominent Religious Events and People in American History
Social Movements and Religion
Religious Minorities (Non-Christian)
Race/Ethnicity and Religion
Women and Religion
Baptist Religious Events and People in American History
Catholic Religious Events and People in American History
Methodist Religious Events and People in American History
Presbyterian Religious Events and People in American History

The Signing of the Constitution- Architect of the Capitol

George Washington portrait- National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; acquired as a gift to the nation through the generosity of the Donald W Reynolds Foundation

Independence Hall, Philadelphia- Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ppmsca-18122

The Constitution of the United States, page 1- National Archives and Records Administration

Bill of Rights- Library of Congress, LC-USP6-360A
Web Source(s)
Read the U.S. Constitution here.
Web Page Contributor
Sandi Dolbee
Affliated with: Former Religion and Ethics Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune

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