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Ireland 1939 American Constitution Pair First Day Cover

Ireland 1939 American Constitution 150th Anniversary. Pair of plain first day covers with printed address in excellent condition. Date of Issue: Mar-1, 1939 Designer: G. Atkinson

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Ireland 1939 American Constitution 150th Anniversary

  • Pair of plain first day covers with printed address in excellent condition

Date of Issue

  • Mar-1, 1939


  • G. Atkinson

Numbers Issued

  • 2d: 27,950,880
  • 3d: 1,110,493

Catalog References

  • SC 103/4, SG 109/10, Mi 69/70, Yv75/6

The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It was completed on September 17, 1787, with its adoption by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was later ratified by special conventions in each of the original thirteen states. It created a federal union of sovereign states, and a federal government to operate that union. It replaced the less defined union that had existed under the Articles of Confederation. It took effect in 1789 and has served as a model for the constitutions of numerous other nations.


After the Revolutionary War, the thirteen states first formed a very weak central government—with the Congress being its only component—under the Articles of Confederation. Congress lacked any power to impose taxes, and, because there was no national executive or judiciary, relied on state authorities (who were often uncooperative) to enforce all of its acts. It also had no authority to override tax laws and tariffs between states. The Articles required unanimous consent from all the states before they could be amended and states took the central government so lightly that their representatives were often absent. For lack of a quorum, Congress was frequently blocked from making even moderate changes.

In September 1786, commissioners from five states met in the Annapolis Convention to discuss adjustments to the Articles of Confederation that would improve commerce. They invited state representatives to convene in Philadelphia to discuss improvements to the federal government. After debate, the Confederation Congress endorsed the plan to revise the Articles of Confederation on February 21, 1787. Twelve states (Rhode Island being the only exception) accepted this invitation and sent delegates to convene in May 1787. The resolution calling the Convention specified its purpose was to propose amendments to the Articles, but the Convention decided to propose a rewritten Constitution. The Philadelphia Convention voted to keep deliberations secret and decided to draft a new fundamental government design which eventually stipulated that only 9 of the 13 states would have to ratify for the new government to go into effect. These actions were criticized by some as exceeding the convention's mandate and existing law. However, Congress, noting dissatisfaction with the Articles of Confederation government, unanimously agreed to submit the proposal to the states despite what some perceived as the exceeded terms of reference. On September 17, 1787, the Constitution was completed in Philadelphia, and the new government it prescribed came into existence on March 4, 1789, after fierce fights over ratification in many of the states.

The original transcribed copy of the Constitution is on permanent display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

The Constitution

The U.S. Constitution styles itself the 'supreme law of the land.' Courts have interpreted this phrase to mean that when laws (including state constitutions) that have been passed by state legislatures, or by the (national) U.S. Congress, are found to conflict with the federal constitution, these laws are ultra vires and have no effect. Decisions by the Supreme Court over the course of two centuries have repeatedly confirmed and strengthened the doctrine of Constitutional supremacy, or the supremacy clause.

The Constitution guarantees the legitimacy of the American state by invoking the American electorate. The people exercise authority through state actors both elected and appointed; some of these positions are provided for in the Constitution. State actors can change the fundamental law, if they wish, by amending the Constitution or, in the extreme, by drafting a new one.

Different kinds of public officials have varying levels of limitations on their power. Elected officials can only continue in office if they are reelected at periodic intervals; appointed officials serve, in general, at the pleasure of the person or authority that appointed them, and may be removed at any time. The exception to this practice is the lifetime appointment by the President of Justices of the Supreme Court and other federal judges; the justification for this exception is that once appointed for life, these judges are presumed capable of acting free of political obligations or influence.