UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more
perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility,
provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and
secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do
ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a
Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and
House of Representatives.
Clause 1: The House of Representatives shall be composed of
Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several
States, and the Electors in each State shall have the
Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch
of the State Legislature.
Clause 2: No Person shall be a Representative who shall not
have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven
Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when
elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be
Clause 3: Representatives and direct Taxes shall be
apportioned among the several States which may be included within
this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be
determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons,
including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and
excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
(See Note 2) The actual Enumeration shall be made within three
Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United
States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such
Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives
shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State
shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration
shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to
chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence
Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four,
Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten,
North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.
Clause 4: When vacancies happen in the Representation from
any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of
Election to fill such Vacancies.
Clause 5: The House of Representatives shall chuse their
Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of
Clause 1: The Senate of the United States shall be composed
of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature
thereof, (See Note 3) for six Years; and each Senator shall have
Clause 2: Immediately after they shall be assembled in
Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as
equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of
the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second
Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year,
and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so
that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies
happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the
Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary
Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which
shall then fill such Vacancies. (See Note 4)
Clause 3: No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have
attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen
of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an
Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
Clause 4: The Vice President of the United States shall be
President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be
Clause 5: The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and
also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice
President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of
the United States.
Clause 6: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all
Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath
or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried,
the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted
without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
Clause 7: Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend
further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold
and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United
States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and
subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according
Clause 1: The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for
Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by
the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law
make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing
Clause 2: The Congress shall assemble at least once in
every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in
December, (See Note 5) unless they shall by Law appoint a
Clause 1: Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections,
Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of
each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller
Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to
compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under
such Penalties as each House may provide.
Clause 2: Each House may determine the Rules of its
Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and,
with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.
Clause 3: Each House shall keep a Journal of its
Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting
such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas
and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at
the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the
Clause 4: Neither House, during the Session of Congress,
shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than
three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two
Houses shall be sitting.
Clause 1: The Senators and Representatives shall receive a
Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and
paid out of the Treasury of the United States. (See Note 6) They
shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the
Peace, beprivileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the
Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning
from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they
shall not be questioned in any other Place.
Clause 2: No Senator or Representative shall, during the
Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office
under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been
created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased
during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the
United States, shall be a Member of either House during his
Continuance in Office.
Clause 1: All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the
House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur
with Amendments as on other Bills.
Clause 2: Every Bill which shall have passed the House of
Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be
presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he
shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections
to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter
the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to
reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that
House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together
with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall
likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that
House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of
both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of
the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on
the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be
returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after
it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in
like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their
Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a
Clause 3: Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the
Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be
necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented
to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall
take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by
him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of
Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed
in the Case of a Bill.
Clause 1: The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect
Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide
for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States;
but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout
the United States;
Clause 2: To borrow Money on the credit of the United
Clause 3: To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and
among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
Clause 4: To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,
and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the
Clause 5: To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of
foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
Clause 6: To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting
the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
Clause 7: To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
Clause 8: To promote the Progress of Science and useful
Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the
exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
Clause 9: To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme
Clause 10: To define and punish Piracies and Felonies
committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of
Clause 11: To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and
Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
Clause 12: To raise and support Armies, but no
Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than
Clause 13: To provide and maintain a Navy;
Clause 14: To make Rules for the Government and Regulation
of the land and naval Forces;
Clause 15: To provide for calling forth the Militia to
execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel
Clause 16: To provide for organizing, arming, and
disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as
may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to
the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the
Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline
prescribed by Congress;
Clause 17: To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases
whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as
may, byCession of particular States, and the Acceptance of
Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States,
and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the
Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall
be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards,
and other needful Buildings;--And
Clause 18: To make all Laws which shall be necessary and
proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all
other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the
United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
Clause 1: The Migration or Importation of such Persons as
any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall
not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand
eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such
Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
Clause 2: The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall
not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion
the public Safety may require it.
Clause 3: No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall
Clause 4: No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be
laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein
before directed to be taken. (See Note 7)
Clause 5: No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported
from any State.
Clause 6: No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of
Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of
another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be
obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.
Clause 7: No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in
Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement
and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money
shall be published from time to time.
Clause 8: No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the
United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust
under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of
any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever,
from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
Clause 1: No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance,
or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin
Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver
Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex
post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or
grant any Title of Nobility.
Clause 2: No State shall, without the Consent of the
Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except
what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection
Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any
State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury
of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the
Revision and Controul of the Congress.
Clause 3: No State shall, without the Consent of Congress,
lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of
Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or
with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded,
or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
Clause 1: The executive Power shall be vested in a President of
the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the
Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen
for the same Term, be elected, as follows
Clause 2: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the
Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the
whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State
may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative,
or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United
States, shall be appointed an Elector.
Clause 3: The Electors shall meet in their respective
States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least
shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And
they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the
Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify,
and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United
States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of
the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of
Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall
then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes
shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole
Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who
have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the
House of Representatives shall immediately choose by Ballot one of
them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from
the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner
choose the President. But in choosing the President, the Votes
shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State
having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a
Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of
all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case,
after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest
Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But
if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the
Senate shall choose from them by Ballot the Vice President. (See
Clause 4: The Congress may determine the Time of choosing
the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes;
which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
Clause 5: No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a
Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this
Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President;
neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not
have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen
Years a Resident within the United States.
Clause 6: In Case of the Removal of the President from
Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge
the Powers and Duties of the said Office, (See Note 9) the Same
shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law
provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability,
both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer
shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act
accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall
Clause 7: The President shall, at stated Times, receive for
his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor
diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected,
and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument
from the United States, or any of them.
Clause 8: Before he enter on the Execution of his Office,
he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do
solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the
Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of
my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the
Clause 1: The President shall be Commander in Chief of the
Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the
several States, when called into the actual Service of the United
States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal
Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject
relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall
have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the
United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
Clause 2: He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and
Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of
the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and
with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint
Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the
supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose
Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which
shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the
Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in
the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of
Clause 3: The President shall have Power to fill up all
Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by
granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the
State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such
Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on
extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them,
and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time
of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think
proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers;
he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall
Commission all the Officers of the United States.
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United
States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and
Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and
The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one
supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may
from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the
supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good
Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services,
a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their
Continuance in Office.
Clause 1: The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in
Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the
United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under
their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public
Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime
Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall
be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;--between
a State and Citizens of another State; (See Note 10)--between
Citizens of different States, --between Citizens of the same State
claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a
State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or
Clause 2: In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public
Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party,
the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the
other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have
appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such
Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
Clause 3: The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of
Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the
State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when
not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place
or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
Clause 1: Treason against the United States, shall consist
only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies,
giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of
Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt
Act, or on Confession in open Court.
Clause 2: The Congress shall have Power to declare the
Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work
Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public
Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And
the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which
such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect
Clause 1: The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to
all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.
Clause 2: A Person charged in any State with Treason,
Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found
in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of
the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to
the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.
Clause 3: No Person held to Service or Labour in one State,
under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in
Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from
such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the
Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due. (See Note 11)
Clause 1: New States may be admitted by the Congress into
this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the
Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the
Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the
Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of
Clause 2: The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and
make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or
other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this
Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of
the United States, or of any particular State.
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union
a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them
against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the
Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it
necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on
the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several
States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which,
in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as
Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of
three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three
fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may
be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may
be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight
shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the
Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its
Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
Clause 1: All Debts contracted and Engagements entered
into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid
against the United States under this Constitution, as under the
Clause 2: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United
States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties
made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United
States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in
every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution
or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
Clause 3: The Senators and Representatives before
mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and
all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and
of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to
support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be
required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under
the United States.
The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be
sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the
States so ratifying the Same.
done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present
the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one
thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of
the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We
have hereunto subscribed our Names,
GO WASHINGTON--President. and deputy from Virginia
[Signed also by the deputies of twelve States.]
Gunning Bedford jun
Dan of ST ThoS. Jenifer
James Madison Jr.
RichD. Dobbs Spaight.
Charles 1ACotesworth Pinckney
WM. SamL. Johnson
Attest William Jackson Secretary
Note 1: This text of the Constitution follows the engrossed
copy signed by Gen. Washington and the deputies from 12 States.
The small superior figures preceding the paragraphs designate
Clauses, and were not in the original and have no reference to
The Constitution was adopted by a convention of the States on
September 17, 1787, and was subsequently ratified by the several
States, on the following dates: Delaware, December 7, 1787;
Pennsylvania, December 12, 1787; New Jersey, December 18, 1787;
Georgia, January 2, 1788; Connecticut, January 9, 1788;
Massachusetts, February 6, 1788; Maryland, April 28, 1788; South
Carolina, May 23, 1788; New Hampshire, June 21, 1788.
Ratification was completed on June 21, 1788.
The Constitution was subsequently ratified by Virginia, June 25,
1788; New York, July 26, 1788; North Carolina, November 21, 1789;
Rhode Island, May 29, 1790; and Vermont, January 10, 1791.
In May 1785, a committee of Congress made a report recommending an
alteration in the Articles of Confederation, but no action was
taken on it, and it was left to the State Legislatures to proceed
in the matter. In January 1786, the Legislature of Virginia passed
a resolution providing for the appointment of five commissioners,
who, or any three of them, should meet such commissioners as might
be appointed in the other States of the Union, at a time and place
to be agreed upon, to take into consideration the trade of the
United States; to consider how far a uniform system in their
commercial regulations may be necessary to their common interest
and their permanent harmony; and to report to the several States
such an act, relative to this great object, as, when ratified by
them, will enable the United States in Congress effectually to
provide for the same. The Virginia commissioners, after some
correspondence, fixed the first Monday in September as the time,
and the city of Annapolis as the place for the meeting, but only
four other States were represented, viz: Delaware, New York, New
Jersey, and Pennsylvania; the commissioners appointed by
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Rhode Island
failed to attend. Under the circumstances of so partial a
representation, the commissioners present agreed upon a report,
(drawn by Mr. Hamilton, of New York,) expressing their unanimous
conviction that it might essentially tend to advance the interests
of the Union if the States by which they were respectively
delegated would concur, and use their endeavors to procure the
concurrence of the other States, in the appointment of
commissioners to meet at Philadelphia on the Second Monday of May
following, to take into consideration the situation of the United
States; to devise such further provisions as should appear to them
necessary to render the Constitution of the Federal Government
adequate to the exigencies of the Union; and to report such an act
for that purpose to the United States in Congress assembled as,
when agreed to by them and afterwards confirmed by the
Legislatures of every State, would effectually provide for the
Congress, on the 21st of February, 1787, adopted a resolution in
favor of a convention, and the Legislatures of those States which
had not already done so (with the exception of Rhode Island)
promptly appointed delegates. On the 25th of May, seven States
having convened, George Washington, of Virginia, was unanimously
elected President, and the consideration of the proposed
constitution was commenced. On the 17th of September, 1787, the
Constitution as engrossed and agreed upon was signed by all the
members present, except Mr. Gerry of Massachusetts, and Messrs.
Mason and Randolph, of Virginia. The president of the convention
transmitted it to Congress, with a resolution stating how the
proposed Federal Government should be put in operation, and an
explanatory letter. Congress, on the 28th of September, 1787,
directed the Constitution so framed, with the resolutions and
letter concerning the same, to "be transmitted to the several
Legislatures in order to be submitted to a convention of delegates
chosen in each State by the people thereof, in conformity to the
resolves of the convention."
On the 4th of March, 1789, the day which had been fixed for
commencing the operations of Government under the new
Constitution, it had been ratified by the conventions chosen in
each State to consider it, as follows: Delaware, December 7, 1787;
Pennsylvania, December 12, 1787; New Jersey, December 18, 1787;
Georgia, January 2, 1788; Connecticut, January 9, 1788;
Massachusetts, February 6, 1788; Maryland, April 28, 1788; South
Carolina, May 23, 1788; New Hampshire, June 21, 1788; Virginia,
June 25, 1788; and New York, July 26, 1788.
The President informed Congress, on the 28th of January, 1790,
that North Carolina had ratified the Constitution November 21,
1789; and he informed Congress on the 1st of June, 1790, that
Rhode Island had ratified the Constitution May 29, 1790. Vermont,
in convention, ratified the Constitution January 10, 1791, and
was, by an act of Congress approved February 18, 1791,
"received and admitted into this Union as a new and entire
member of the United States."
Note 2: The part of this Clause relating to the mode of
apportionment of representatives among the several States has been
affected by Section 2 of amendment XIV, and as to taxes on incomes
without apportionment by amendment XVI.
Note 3: This Clause has been affected by Clause 1 of
Note 4: This Clause has been affected by Clause 2 of
Note 5: This Clause has been affected by amendment XX.
Note 6: This Clause has been affected by amendment XXVII.
Note 7: This Clause has been affected by amendment XVI.
Note 8: This Clause has been superseded by amendment XII.
Note 9: This Clause has been affected by amendment XXV.
Note 10: This Clause has been affected by amendment XI.
Note 11: This Clause has been affected by amendment XIII.
Note 12: The first ten amendments to the Constitution of
the United States (and two others, one of which failed of
ratification and the other which later became the 27th amendment)
were proposed to the legislatures of the several States by the
First Congress on September 25, 1789. The first ten amendments
were ratified by the following States, and the notifications of
ratification by the Governors thereof were successively
communicated by the President to Congress: New Jersey, November
20, 1789; Maryland, December 19, 1789; North Carolina, December
22, 1789; South Carolina, January 19, 1790; New Hampshire, January
25, 1790; Delaware, January 28, 1790; New York, February 24, 1790;
Pennsylvania, March 10, 1790; Rhode Island, June 7, 1790; Vermont,
November 3, 1791; and Virginia, December 15, 1791.
Ratification was completed on December 15, 1791.
The amendments were subsequently ratified by the legislatures of
Massachusetts, March 2, 1939; Georgia, March 18, 1939; and
Connecticut, April 19, 1939.
Note 13: Only the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th articles of
amendment had numbers assigned to them at the time of
Note 14: This sentence has been superseded by section 3 of
Note 15: See amendment XIX and section 1 of amendment XXVI.
Note 16: Repealed by section 1 of amendment XXI.
= = = =
= = =
= = =
= = = =
= = = =
= = = =
= = = =
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
Action of Second Continental Congress, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America
WHEN in the Course of human Events,
it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political
Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among
the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which
the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent
Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should
declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.
WE hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the
Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments
are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the
Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government
becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People
to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying
its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in
such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their
Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that
Governments long established should not be changed for light and
transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that
Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable,
than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are
accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations,
pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce
them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their
Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for
their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of
these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains
them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of
the present King of Great- Britain is a History of repeated
Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the
Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove
this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.
HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and
necessary for the public Good.
HE has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and
pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his
Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly
neglected to attend to them.
HE has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large
Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the
Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to
them, and formidable to Tyrants only.
HE has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual,
uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public
Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance
with his Measures.
HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing
with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.
HE has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause
others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of
the Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their
exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the
Dangers of Invasion from without, and the Convulsions within.
HE has endeavored to prevent the Population of these States; for
that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of
Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations
hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his
Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of
their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.
HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms
of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.
HE has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without
the consent of our Legislatures.
HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior
to the Civil Power.
HE has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction
foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws;
giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us;
FOR protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any
Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these
FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:
FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
FOR depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:
FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended
FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring
Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and
enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example
and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rules into
FOR taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws,
and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
FOR suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves
invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.
HE has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his
Protection and waging War against us.
HE has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns,
and destroyed the Lives of our People.
HE is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign
Mercenaries to complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and
Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy,
scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally
unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.
HE has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high
Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the
Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves
by their Hands.
HE has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has
endeavored to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the
merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an
undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.
IN every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress
in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been
answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is
thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be
the Ruler of a free People.
NOR have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We
have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their
Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We
have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and
Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and
Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common
Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably
interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been
deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must,
therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our
Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies
in War, in Peace, Friends.
WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATED OF
AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme
Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the
Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies,
solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and
of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are
absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all
political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain,
is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND
INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude
Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other
Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do. And for
the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the
Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other
our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
= = = =
= = =
= = =
= = = =
= = = =
= = = =
= = = =
bill of rights
THE United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday the Fourth of
March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.
THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of
their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to
prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further
declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as
extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will
best insure the beneficent ends of its institution
RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both
Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the
Legislatures of the several States, as Amendments to the
Constitution of the United States, all or any of which Articles,
when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be
valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said
ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution
of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and
ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to
the fifth Article of the original Constitution.
Article the first [Not Ratified]
After the first enumeration required by the first Article of the
Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty
thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after
which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there
shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than
one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the
number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred; after which
the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall
not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one
Representative for every fifty thousand persons.
Article the second [Amendment XXVII - Ratified 1992]
No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators
and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of
Representatives shall have intervened.
Article the third [Amendment I]
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging
the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people
peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a
redress of grievances.
Article the fourth [Amendment II]
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a
free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall
not be infringed.
Article the fifth [Amendment III]
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house,
without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a
manner to be prescribed by law.
Article the sixth [Amendment IV]
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,
shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon
probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly
describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to
Article the seventh [Amendment V]
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise
infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand
Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in
the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public
danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be
twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in
any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived
of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor
shall private property be taken for public use, without just
Article the eighth [Amendment VI]
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to
a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and
district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which
district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be
informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be
confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory
process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the
Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Article the ninth [Amendment VII]
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall
exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be
preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise
re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to
the rules of the common law.
Article the tenth [Amendment VIII]
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed,
nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Article the eleventh [Amendment IX]
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not
be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Article the twelfth [Amendment X]
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution,
nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States
respectively, or to the people.
ATTEST: Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, Speaker of the House of