On September 17, 1787, the United States Constitution was signed at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. This month marks the 225th anniversary of this landmark moment in American history when delegates at the Constitutional Convention joined together to form "a more perfect Union."
The Constitution remains one of the world's greatest achievements. In a time when kings, monarchs, czars, and emperors ruled the nations the world, the United States Constitution represented a novel and revolutionary idea -- a living document creating a government of "We the People" that was composed to guarantee the natural rights of its citizens.
Even how the Constitution was written was revolutionary. Elected state legislatures appointed delegates to attend the Constitutional Convention. The delegates, who were the soldiers, farmers, educators, ministers, physicians and merchants that these laws would be applied to, then elected George Washington to serve as President of the Convention. Once the Constitution was drafted and signed, it went back to the state legislatures where they voted to ratify the governing document.
Much has changed in more than two centuries since the Constitution was signed. According to the first census in 1790, less than 4 million people lived in the United States. Today, the population is more than 300 million. Whether it is separating the powers of government or securing the inalienable freedoms for all Americans, this living document has stood up to changes in our society.
Like every other member that has served in the United States Congress, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution upon taking office -- similar to the oath taken by every president, military officer, and Supreme Court judge. Today, those 4,400 words continue to guide my principles.
Through the decades, activist judges and some in government have moved away from the Constitutional principles of a limited federal government to pursue their individual agendas. Since Republicans took back control of the House of Representatives in January of 2011, I am pleased that Members of Congress have been required to provide a constitutional authority statement with every bill that identifies what part of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to take that action.
I firmly believe that we have the best system of government in the world, which was established by the Constitution. However, there is no question that it will continue to take hard work to preserve and protect the rights and freedoms guaranteed by this governing document. Benjamin Franklin's statement on the closing day of the Constitutional Convention is as true today as it was 225 years ago. When asked by a fellow delegate whether they had created a republic or a monarchy, Dr. Franklin responded, "A Republic, if we can keep it."