Today, a day that hasn't warranted a 'Google Doodle', is the 234th birthday of the United States Constitution. Peruse it or lose it... and the liberty it was written to preserve.
What was signed as completed upon this day, two hundred and thirty-three years ago, September 17th, 1787, by thirty-nine of the fifty-five Framers, was the Constitution of the United States of America
, and whether you stand in respect for, or disrespectfully turn away from, the Flag, the National Anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance, you do so in reference to that document which is the oldest existing instrument of its kind, still in operation.
Is it simply a list of rules for governing by? Is it nothing more than a favorite fossil of 'white people
'? A document of oppression? Frederick Douglass once thought so, but because he was a thinker, in order to understand what was true, he didn't stop with answers that were given to him by others, but continued on thinking upon the matter, and so discovered the Truth which such vile falsehoods seek to smother
But today I'm really not much concerned with your answers to those 'points', but am only interested in whether or not you are familiar with the ideas, principles and purposes which animated the writing of it - are you? And if not... what worth can your opinion on it - pro or con - have for me, or for anyone else?
Whether you mouth its praises, or make showy protests against it, without understanding what it is you are referencing - your praises and protestations fail to even rise to the level of being wrong, they are but verbal dust to be brushed away, meaningless and of no consequence. But if you are one of that thoughtless many, you may take comfort in the knowledge that you are in the happy company of millions of such Pavlovian 'Conservatives', Pro-Regressive Leftists and Libertarians, for whom the United States Constitution is little more than a paper bell which they bark at.
But for those of you who do see it as more than a mere object of ink upon paper; for those of you who don't insult the memory of those who strove to produce it as having been anything other than men of flesh and blood; for you who understand that it was written so as to give physical form to, enable, and implement of some of the greatest political ideas of Western Civilization:
- that Individual Rights result from the nature of being human("...are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..."),
- that men who understand that are capable of self governance,
- that well ordered argument can lead to a self-correcting means of governance,
- that such a system, established by such a people, can enable lives lived in liberty while in society with others, so long as the beast of Power is bound down and limited by laws whose purpose is to uphold and defend the Individual Rights of every person
, for such a people as that, intellectually armed through a document such as this, Liberty is
But it is only
possible for those who understand it.
For those intemperate folk who simply wish to sing the praises of, or rain curses down upon, that which they know little or nothing of, so that they can 'do what they will
', as they want, because
to... well for them, as Edmund Burke said in the face of the debut of Fascism
“It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”
Whether you are 'for or against it
', especially on this day, in our
day, you'd be wise to consider what would happen if we should lose the last vestiges of it, and those protections it uniquely extends to both sides.
For those of you who already do, or who are at least willing to make the effort to understand those ideas which animated the framing of this document, those of you who understand that such principles and ideas as these cannot be owned by any race or culture, but can only be discovered by some for the benefit of all, then by virtue of that understanding, you and I are unified through these thoughts which were so well formed, written down, and 'completed' (and not to forget the first debate on amending
its completion), on 'the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven'
What is it that we celebrate today, Constitution
Day, but the efforts of our Founding Fathers, 234 years ago, to harness the pursuit of power, and force it to serve the pursuit of happiness? It is simply the greatest achievement in history, to date, to enable men to live in liberty, with one another, while disagreeing with each other
, under the protection of the Rule of Law.
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, 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 America."
It's worth noting that our Founding Generation found the efforts of the Framers of the Constitution... wanting.
They very nearly refused to ratify the document, not
because it wasn't an elegant solution to the harnessing of power, but because they felt it didn't go far enough in securing our Individual Rights.
But, in the end, they took a risk that politicians could be trusted to provide the lacking Bill of Rights afterwards, and though those politicians almost reneged, James Madison insisted that their word be kept, and though he disliked the idea of a Bill of Rights, he submitted a series of amendments
which, after vigorous debate, became the original Ten Amendments to the Constitution that we know today as the Bill of Rights
, which were amended to the Constitution for the purpose of restraining the power which the Constitution harnessed into the hands of men:
"Begun and held at the City of New York, on Wednesday, the 4th of March, 1789.
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;--"
Madison didn't dislike the idea of a Bill of Rights because he didn't want to secure our Rights, but because he feared that any list of Rights, in the hands of politicians, would serve as snares and loopholes to all of our Rights, limiting them to only those words written upon parchment. But in the process of writing his amendments, he hit upon the ideas that would become our 9th and 10th Amendments, reserving all those Rights and Powers not listed, to the people and those powers not listed, to the states.
We have recently come through a tumultuous election, followed by a series of events that are "testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.
If you have not considered what rests at the core of our Constitution, the balancing of powers against powers, and forcing ambition to serve liberty... you must realize that it is not an easy task. As Madison put it in Federalist #51
"But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack..Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions."
We've passed through an election with charges of fraud, we've ended our longest war in utter chaos and left Americans behind in enemy territory, we have politicians, generals, media and individuals, behaving as if they have no understanding of, concern for, or interest in this document which alone can serve to bind the fearsome power of government down with laws. It is up to you, We The People
, to consider whether or not that power is balanced against anything at all, so as to serve your liberty - or to extinguish it.
Our Constitution was devised so as to put Government at the service of your
ability to live your own life. Is it still serving that function, or imperiling it? That's a question you'd better consider, because it will determine the direction that this government turns towards, or turns forever away from, either enabling you, your children and your children's children, to live their own lives - or not.
One final point, whether you are an old hand with, or relatively new to, this document and its ideas, I take it as an obvious point that your reading of it can be greatly improved and informed by those arguments for, and against it, that were in the minds of those who debated the writing and ratifying of it. One of the best tools I've ever found for considering and reflecting upon the whole or particular parts of the Constitution, is the University of Chicago's site "The Founders Constitution
". Scroll down on the contents page and you'll find that it goes through the Constitution clause by clause, and that each is supplied with a list of links to those relevant portions of not only the Federalist
Papers, but to documents which the Founders had in mind when writing the Constitution, to what the Anti-Federalists objected to (this is particularly helpful in understanding the arguments for
the Constitution which the Federalist Papers make), as well as early Supreme Court opinions and judgments that were relevant to that clause being acted upon, as well as the commentaries by early Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story (which are fantastic).
Without further ado:
Constitution of the United States and the First Twelve Amendments 1787--1804
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 America.
. 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.
. 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.
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 chosen.
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. 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.
When vacancies happen in the Representation from any
State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of
Election to fill such Vacancies.
The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker
and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
. The Senate of the United States shall be
composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the
Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall
have one Vote.
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.
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.
The Vice President of the United States shall be President
of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be
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.
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.
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 to Law.
. 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 Senators.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year,
and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December,
unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.
. 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.
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.
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 Journal.
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.
. 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.
They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach
of the Peace, be privileged 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.
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.
. 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.
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 Law.
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
. 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;
To borrow Money
on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce
with foreign Nations, and
among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization
uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies
the United States;
To coin Money
, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign
Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment
of counterfeiting the Securities
and current Coin of the United States;
To establish Post Offices
and post Roads;
To promote the progress of Science and useful Arts
securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the
exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
To constitute Tribunals
inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies
on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal
and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies
, but no Appropriation of
Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two
To provide and maintain a Navy
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation
the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia
to execute the
Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the
, 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;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever
over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may,
by Cession 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
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
. 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.
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.
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law
No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid
in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before
directed to be taken.
No Tax or Duty
shall be laid on Articles exported from
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.
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
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
. 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
No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress
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.
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.
. 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
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
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 chuse 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 chuse
the President. But in chusing 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 chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.
The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the
Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes;
which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
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.
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, 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 be elected.
The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services,
a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased
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
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 United States."
. 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.
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 Departments.
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 Session.
. 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 Misdemeanors.
. 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 Behaviour,
and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a
Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their
Continuance in Office.
. 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;--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 Subjects.
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.
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
. 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
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 Person attainted.
. 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 thereof.
. The Citizens of each State shall be entitled
to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several
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.
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
. 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 the Congress.
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
. 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 domestic Violence.
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 it's
equal Suffrage in the Senate.
All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into
the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid
against the United States under this Constitution, as under
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
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.
The Word, "the," being interlined between the
seventh and eighth Lines of the first Page, The
Word "Thirty" being partly written on an Erazure
in the fifteenth Line of the first Page, The Words
"is tried" being interlined between the thirty second
and thirty third Lines of the first Page and
the Word "the" being interlined between the forty
third and forty fourth Lines of the second Page.
Attest William Jackson Secretary
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 Independance of the United States of
America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto
subscribed our Names,
--Presidt. and deputy from Virginia
||Wm. Saml. Johnson
Gunning Bedford jun
Dan of St Thos. Jenifer
James Madison Jr.
Richd. Dobbs Spaight.
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Congress of the United States;
Begun and held at the City of New York, on Wednesday, the 4th of March, 1789.
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;--
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 be seized.
- 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 compensation
- 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.
- 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.
- Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments
- The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people
- 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.
The Founders' Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 1, Document 9
The University of Chicago Press
Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States
. Edited by Charles C. Tansill. 69th Cong., 1st sess. House Doc. No. 398. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1927.