Research: U.S. Founding Documents

Last week for a research blog I posted the West Virginia Constitution. This week I decided to cover the United States Founding Documents. These include: United States Constitution, Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights.

Using the Library of Congress Website, below you will find scans of the ACTUAL documents and for each document: Digital Collections, Related Online Resources, External Websites and Print Resources.

United States Constitution

Written in 1787, ratified in 1788, and in operation since 1789, the U.S. Constitution is the world’s longest surviving written charter of government.

The members of the Constitutional Convention signed the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Constitutional Convention convened in response to dissatisfaction with the Articles of Confederation and the need for a strong centralized government. After four months of secret debate and many compromises, the proposed Constitution was submitted to the states for approval. Although the vote was close in some states, the Constitution was eventually ratified and the new Federal government came into existence in 1789. The Constitution established the U.S. government as it exists today.

We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union …

George Washington Papers, Series 4, General Correspondence: Constitution, Printed, with Marginal Notes by George Washington, September 12, 1787

Constitution of the United States of America.. [With] Ratification of the constitution of the United States by the convention of the state of Rhode Island and Providence plantations … In Convention, May 29, 1790

Digital Collections

Related Online Resources

External Websites

Print Resources

Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. This guide provides access to digital materials at the Library of Congress, links to related external websites, and a print bibliography.

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, announcing the colonies’ separation from Great Britain.

Use the navigation menu on the left to access sections of this guide on digital collections, related online resources, external websites, and a bibliography of books providing more information on the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Jefferson, June 1776, Rough Draft of the Declaration of Independence

In Congress, July 4, 1776, a declaration by the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled.

n Congress, July 4, 1776. The unanimous declaration of the thirteen United States of America.

Digital Collections

Related Online Resources

External Websites

Print Resources

Bill of Rights

Ratified on December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights comprises the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. This guide provides access to digital materials at the Library of Congress, links to related external websites, and a print bibliography.

On September 25, 1789, the First Federal Congress of the United States proposed to the state legislatures twelve amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The first two, concerning the number of constituents for each Representative and the compensation of Congressmen, were not ratified.* Articles three through twelve—known as the Bill of Rights—were ratified by the states on December 15, 1791, and became the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Bill of Rights contains guarantees of essential rights and liberties omitted in the crafting of the original Constitution.

Use the navigation menu on the left to access sections of this guide on digital collections, related online resources, external websites, and a bibliography of books providing more information on the Bill of Rights.

Digital Collection

Related Online Resources

External Websites

Print Resources

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