The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States (Bantam Classic)
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The Declaration of Independence was the promise of a representative government; the Constitution was the fulfillment of that promise.
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress issued a unanimous declaration: the thirteen North American colonies would be the thirteen United States of America, free and independent of Great Britain. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration set forth the terms of a new form of government with the following words: "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
Framed in 1787 and in effect since March 1789, the Constitution of the United States of America fulfilled the promise of the Declaration by establishing a republican form of government with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, became part of the Constitution on December 15, 1791. Among the rights guaranteed by these amendments are freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and the right to trial by jury. Written so that it could be adapted to endure for years to come, the Constitution has been amended only seventeen times since 1791 and has lasted longer than any other written form of government.
senators and representatives could take effect only after an election intervened. The ten became, in December 1791, the federal Bill of Rights, a bare-bones lawyer’s list of rights with two additional provisions: the Ninth Amendment declared that the previous statement of rights “shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people” the Tenth Amendment said that powers which the Constitution did not delegate to the United States or prohibit to the states were “reserved to the
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
and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States. AMENDMENT XIII.**14 Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this
the paragraph went on, “for light & transient causes.” But “when a long train of abuse & usurpations” revealed a settled design to subject them to absolute rule, it was not just the people’s right but also their duty to “throw off such government, & to provide new guards for their future security.” The Declaration then asserted that George III was guilty of protracted “injuries and usurpations” that revealed his intention to establish an “absolute tyranny” over the American states. The document
1786, when only five delegations appeared at a convention called to discuss trade problems. Rather than simply dissolve, the runt meeting (remembered as the Annapolis Convention or Conference) decided to invite the states to send delegates to another convention, which would meet at Philadelphia on the second Monday of May 1787, to “take into consideration the situation of the United States,” and “to devise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the constitution of the