The U.S. Constitution, the governing document of the United States, was signed into law on Sept. 17, 1787. This document, constructed and signed by the delegates of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, helped to guarantee the basic rights of the citizens of the country.
Following the passage of the Constitution, the U.S. Congress added the Bill of Rights, 10 amendments that covered rights such as freedom of speech and religion, protection from unreasonable search and seizure, and the right to bear arms. Future president James Madison drafted the amendments in the Bill of Rights and was afterward nicknamed the "Father of the Constitution." Since its inception, the government has added a total of 27 amendments to the document, including amendments for women's voting rights and freedom for African-Americans.
During the Constitutional Convention, only 12 of the 13 states sent delegates. Rhode Island refused, due to not wanting a strong central government. Rhode Island also was the final state to ratify the Constitution, only doing so in 1790, well after the document was legally ratified into law. George Washington became the first delegate to sign the document, on Sept. 17, 1787, and in total only 39 of the 55 delegates signed.