Sept. 17, 1787: The final draft of the Constitution was signed in Philadelphia, replacing the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution devised a system of checks and balances among three separate but co-equal branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial. Much of the debate over the legislative branch centered on how big and small states should be represented: Should it be equally or by size? It was decided to do both. Thus, the Senate, where each state was given equal representation, and the House of Representatives, where each state was allocated lawmakers according to the size of its population.

Sept. 17, 1862: A nervous President Lincoln monitored what would be the bloodiest day in American history — the Battle of Antietam. The Civil War was by far the most devastating in American history. Some 625,000 Americans were killed — 2 percent of the U.S. population, and the equivalent of 6.2 million people today.

Sept. 17, 1978: With a beaming President Carter looking on, the leaders of Israel and Egypt signed the Camp David Accords. The term derives from over 12 days of talks that Carter held at Camp David, the presidential retreat, with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Sadat and Begin won the Nobel Peace Prize the next year. The Accord led to the first peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, longtime enemies since Israel was founded in 1948.

Quote of the Day

"The (happy) Union of these States is a wonder; their Constitution a miracle; their example the hope of Liberty throughout the world." -James Madison

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