On this day the US Constitution was signed in Philadelphia in 1787. The signing of the US Constitution set in motion the creation of what would become in the 20th century the most powerful nation on earth.

“Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States” by Howard Chandler Christy – The Indian Reporter. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

After winning the Revolutionary War with the help of France (the costs of France’s involvement would help precipitate the French Revolution), the question that remained with the Thirteen Colonies was what kind of political system would the newly independent country have. In many ways, this question has never been truly resolved, with the most tragic expression of that uncertainty in the Civil War.

For a time it seemed that the Thirteen Colonies would create their own independent republics and commonwealths. But through the exhaustive efforts of the founding fathers like Washington, the colonies agreed to function as sums of a greater whole.
And while debate will rage as to the extent of the positive or negative role the United States has played on the world stage, there is no question that the principles expressed in the Constitution, based on Enlightenment thought, speak to the highest ideals of the human condition.