Sunday, November 11, 2007

Picture Puzzle #1 Answered

The first ever picture puzzle seemed to puzzle everyone ( or at least Billy since he was the only one to comment). Hopefully the next picture puzzle will get more responses. Anyway picture #1 was showing George Washington's 1st inaugural at Federal Hall in New York City on April 30, 1789. This relates to the Constitution because it was the Constitution that created the office of President.

We know that the Constitutional Convention took place in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787. It was during this critical time that debates concerning state versus national authority took place. It was agreed that a stronger national government was needed to solve the many problems the young United States was facing. The problem was that most of the founders feared that the strengthening of the national government may lead to an American monarchy or a similar form of government that would betray the spirit of 1776.

How could the Founders stregnthen the national government without placing too much power in the hands of one person? The answer was provided by creating a federal system where the national and state powers are clearly defined, thereby saving important authority to the state and local governements. In addition, the national government was divided into three branches headed by three different groups of people. To further spread out the power of the national government there were a series of checks and balances that were written into the Constitution that made it necessary for each branch to work together and oversee the others. This system may not work perfectly, but it certainly was an improvement over what the Articles of Confederation provided.

When the Constitution was finally ratified in June 1788 preparations were made to hold the first Presidential election. Of course, George Washington was elected. When Washington left Mount Vernon on April 16, 1789 to go to New York City to be inaugurated President of the United States he did not know what was in store for him or the nation. The Constitution actually spelled out very little specifics about the responsibilities of the office. Everything Washington did as President would become a precedent that future Presidents would look to for guidance. One thing that the Constitution did spell out was the Oath of Office. When Washington took the Oath in Federal Hall he spoke the same words that have been spoken by every President since 1789: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" And then after a brief pause Washngton added something the Constitution did not include, but has become part of the oath ever since--"So help me God".

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