How well do you know America's founding documents? Watch 'Fox Nation 101: The Constitution'

Watch Fox Nation 101’s ‘The Constitution: Designing Democracy’

The new series "Fox Nation 101: The Constitution" explains the history and significance of one of America's founding documents: The Constitution.

The U.S. Constitution is the world's longest surviving written charter of government, penned in 1787 and ratified in 1788. It was brought about by necessity.

"As of the summer of 1787, when the Founders came together in Philadelphia, they understood that we wouldn't survive as a country," explained Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, in the Fox Nation show.

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The United States declared independence on July 4, 1776, laying out the reasoning behind the war fought by the people of the original 13 colonies to free themselves from the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Now, the new nation had to determine how to govern itself.

"The biggest challenge for the Americans was that they no longer had a king. They no longer had a monarch," said Randy Barnett, director of the Georgetown Center for the Constitution.

"They had what was known at the time and is still known as a republic, meaning it was a nation that was set up to be ruled in some sense, more or less by the people themselves," he continued. "And that created well-known historical challenges because most republics in history were either weak or had otherwise failed."

The first attempt to create a government to secure the ideals of the Declaration of Independence was the Articles of Confederation.

"Following the Revolution, we instinctively and reflexively went to a very limited national government and we adopted something under the Articles of Confederation that was anemic at the federal level," said Lee, observing that the fledging United States could not effectively defend itself from foreign enemies or resolve disputes between states.

"That's why we needed the Constitution," he observed. "We found how to strike a more appropriate balance between a federal government that was powerful enough to do what needed to be done at the national level. But not so powerful as to jeopardize individual liberty."

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The Founders were students of history and recent victims of the tyranny of a monarch, so they understood that any form of government that preserved the rights of its people must ensure that no single group came to dominate the rest.

"This is one of the central messages that we gained from the American revolutionary experience," remarked Lee.

One solution to this conundrum is the separation of powers laid out in the first three articles of the Constitution. The three main functions of government were delineated to three separate and equal branches of government.

The Legislative branch makes federal laws. The Executive branch, headed by the president, enforces and executes the laws. The Judicial branch interprets the laws and resolves any conflicts between parties who cannot agree on what the law actually means.

"The genius of our constitutional system is that as long as you protect and preserve these structural protections, you prevent any one person or any one group of people from accumulating too much power," said Lee.

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Barnett noted that this system of government inherently leads to clashes among the branches of government, as well as between individuals, state governments and the federal government, which is its intention.

"If you have the legislature checking the executive branch, the president, and you have the president checking the legislature by means of veto power, and if you have the judiciary checking all the branches of government, and then you superimpose that over a federal system – in which you have 50 states that to some extent are checking the federal government and the federal government is certainly checking them – this is a recipe for conflict," he said. "But that conflict is a feature, not a bug, of the U.S. Constitution."

To watch all of this Fox Nation 101 series, including a debate over how America's founding principles have shifted over time, go to Fox Nation and sign up today.

Also watch the Fox Nation series "Pandemics and Epidemics 101," with Dr. Nicole Saphier, who is a full-time practicing physician at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a Fox News contributor.

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