Constitution of the United States of America
The first three Articles of the Constitution establish the rules and separate powers of the three branches of the federal government: a legislature, the bicameral Congress; an executive branch led by the President; and a federal judiciary headed by the Supreme Court. The last four Articles frame the principle of federalism. The Tenth Amendment confirms its federal characteristics.
The Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and ratified by conventions in eleven states. It went into effect on March 4, 1789.
The first ten constitutional amendments ratified by three-fourths of the states in 1791 are known as the Bill of Rights. The Constitution has been amended seventeen additional times (for a total of 27 amendments) and its principles are applied in courts of law.
The links below represent our ever growing collection of books and source documents designed to tell the tale of the Constitution of the Unites States of America without the filter of either the public education system or the media.
An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution by Noah Webster – This treatise, originally published anonymously, was second only to the Federalist Papers in influencing ratification of the Constitution and indirectly expounds on Noah Webster’s view of Congressional power in regards to the General Welfare.
Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States – Abridged Version by Joseph Story – Each section is very carefully laid out, and the entire book is constructed to explain the Constitution passage by passage. The logical order and a good index make this book essential for Constitutional scholars and provide ease of use for the casual historian.
Elementary Catechism of the Constitution by Arthur J. Stansbury – In order to help parents train their children in the principles of freedom and liberty, a famous little book was published in 1828. It was designed specifically for the schools but was also read widely by many adults who felt the need to know more about the mechanics of our system of self-government as designed for a free American society.
Essays on the Constitution of the United States Edited By Paul Leicester Ford – From an examination of over forty files of newspapers and many thousand separate issues, scattered in various public and private libraries, from Boston to Charleston, the editor has selected a series of these essays, and reprinted them in this volume.
Jefferson and Madison’s Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Constitution” by J. David Gowdy – This publication is intended to assist teachers, students, parents, and citizens in understanding and appreciating the Constitution of the United States of America. It is designed as a handbook for studying the Constitution in the tradition of the founders, using the source documents and writings identified by them as the “best guides” to its principles and meaning.
Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 by James Madison – Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 was James Madison’s record of the daily debates held by delegates at the Philadelphia Convention, which resulted in the drafting of the current United States Constitution.
Notes of the Secret Debates of the Federal Convention of 1787 by Robert Yates – This document is one of two primary sources of the debates in the Constitutional Convention. The author is also well known as the presumed author of the anti-federalist essays published in 1787 and 1788 under the pseudonyms “Brutus” and “Sydney”.
Principles of Constitutional Interpretation – Constitutional interpretation, or constitutional construction, the term more often used by the Founders, is the process by which legal decisions are made that are justified by a constitution.
The Anti-Federalist Papers Special Edition – The arguments against ratification appeared in various forms, by various authors, most of whom used a pseudonym. Collectively, these writings have become known as the Anti-Federalist Papers.
The Constitution of the United States – The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America
The Essential Anti-Federalist Papers – To make these important documents easy to access we went through all 85 essays and pulled out the most important passages from 85 or the best and most well read of these papers and organized them sequentially.
The Essential Federalist Papers – To make these important documents easy to access we went through all 85 essays and pulled out the most important passages from 85 or the best and most well read of these papers and organized them by topic.
The Federalist Papers by Hamilton, Madison and Jay – The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 articles or essays advocating the ratification of the United States Constitution.
The Federalist System by John Spencer Bassett – THE winter of 1788-1789 saw the dissolution in the United States of an inefficient form of government and the inauguration in its stead of a stronger union.
The Philadelphia Convention – A Play For Many Readers” by Catherine McGrew Jaime – This play is divided into acts and scenes since it is so long. You may want to read aloud only selected scenes, depending on your schedule. You could still assign your students the remaining portions for independent reading, since it is written as a very accurate look at the important work of the Constitutional Convention.