Founding and Founders

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Founding Documents

  1. HTML
            Version Constitution for the United States Correct version, local to this site, with annotations and links to other pages on this and other sites.
  2. HTML Version Text Version Zipped WordPerfect Constitution for the United States Correct version, local to this site, with minimal annotations and no local links other than among this document set, for portability across multiple platforms and browsers. This one can be downloaded and used at your site.
  3. HTML Version  Constitution for the United States Color-coded to indicate passages violated or not properly implemented, with links to Reed-Kellogg digrams of some of the clauses.
  4. MS Word Version Zipped WordPerfect Constitution for the United States Formatted to print on two sides of one letter-size sheet of paper.
  5. PDF Version Founding-Era Translations of the United States Constitution The Constitution was translated from English into German and Dutch at ratification, for the substantial number of people in Pennsylvania and New York who did not speak English. This document sets out the different texts and translations alongside one another.
  6. HTML Version Text Version Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, by James Madison. These are the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia. an essential guide to interpreting the intent of the Framers. Also see the mirror site at TeamInfinity.
  7. Scanned images of the original pages of U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. See also the Charters of Freedom collection at the National Archives and Records Adminstration.
    Grey Color Document
    Image Version Image Version U.S. Constitution, page 1
    Image Version Image Version U.S. Constitution, page 2
    Image Version Image Version U.S. Constitution, page 3
    Image Version Image Version U.S. Constitution, page 4

    Image Version Letter of Transmittal
    Image Version
    Bill of Rights
  8. Remote
            Link - HTML U.S. Constitution Official but incorrect version you will often see.
  9. Remote Link - HTML The Annotated Constitution GPO, CRS [ASCII, PDF], 2444p. Project of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and Government Printing Office (GPO). Annotated references to Supreme Court decisions arranged by provision and amendment. Acrobat reader needed for PDF files can be downloaded from here. Some very large files.
  10. Remote Link - HTML The U.S. Constitution Annotated Findlaw rendition. Links to case files on their site.
  11. Remote Link - HTML The Founders' Constitution Online documentation from the University of Chicago.
  12. HTML
            Version Text
            Version Adobe PDF Image
            Version U.S. Declaration of Independence Original capitalization.
  13. HTML
            Version Text
            Version U.S. Declaration of Independence Modernized capitalization.
  14. HTML version Text version Original Rough Draught of the Declaration of Independence
  15. HTML Version Text Version The Federalist Papers, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay. Also see the versions from Rob Knautz, Liberty Online, Perfect Union Project, and the gopher site: Wiretap.
  16. HTML
            Version Anti-Federalist Papers Various essays criticizing the proposed Constitution and urging changes. See the collections at Iahushua and Logoplex.
  17. Submenu The Debates in the Several Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Jonathan Elliot (1836) A collection of documents, including proceedings of the ratifying state conventions.
  18. Submenu Documentary History of the Bill of Rights From the English Bill of Rights through the proposed amendments of the state ratifying conventions to the drafts debated in Congress before adopting the final version.
  19. Submenu Early State Constitutions State constitutions in use from independence through adoption of the U.S. Constitution, for which they served as models.
  20. HTML Version Remote Link - HTML Primary Sources Extensive collection of links and documents from Rick Gardiner.
  21. HTML Version Text Version Constitutional Quotes Some quotes that enlighten understanding of the Constitution.
  22. HTML Version History & Economics Related to Constitutional Matters Articles on facts and conjectures.
  23. HTML Version The Athenian Constitution, Aristotle (350 BC). Also see the site at MIT.
  24. HTML Version Text Version Constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy.
  25. HTML Version Text Version Image
            Version Magna Carta.
  26. HTML
            Version Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (Marquis de Lafayette, Thomas Jefferson, 1789) Manifesto of the French Revolution, expressing its ideals.
  27. HTML Version Text Version Principles of Constitutional Interpretation, Jon Roland
  28. HTML Version Text Version Intent of the Fourteenth Amendment was to Protect All Rights, Jon Roland
  29. HTML
            Version Text
            Version How to render documents Short manual on scanning printed documents and converting them into web pages.
  30. HTML Version Text Version Only half would vote for Constitution Why it is so important to support efforts like this site.
  31. HTML Version Bouvier Law Dictionary. Also available as two self-extracting executables: Part 1 and Part 2.
  32. HTML Version Landmark Court Decisions Local archive, with commentaries on the rulings and the opinions.
  33. Remote Link - HTML Supreme Court Decisions Findlaw collection.
  34. Remote Link - HTML Supreme Court Decisions Cornell collection. Only has recent ones.
  35. Remote Link - HTML U.S. Constitutional Law Cornell archive.
  36. Remote Link - HTML Avalon Project at Yale Law School Documents in law, history and diplomacy.
  37. Remote Link - HTML Farrand's Records Library of Congress collection.
  38. Remote Link - HTML Elliot's Debates Library of Congress collection.
  39. Remote Link - HTML U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates Library of Congress collection.
  40. Remote Link - HTML Letters of Delegates to Congress Library of Congress collection.
  41. Remote Link - HTML Journals of the Continental Congress Library of Congress collection.
  42. Remote Link - HTML R. Carter Pittman Constitutionalist, and scholar of George Mason, a major contributor to the Virginia Declaration of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights. Collection of his writings.
  43. Remote Link - HTML National Constitution Center Mainly a bricks and mortar museum, but has online materials.
  44. Remote Link - HTML U.S. Government Starting point for U.S. Government Hypertexts.
  45. Remote Link - HTML U.S. Historical Documents Collection at the University of Oklahoma.
  46. Remote Link - HTML Ancient Legal Sourcebook Collection of documents and links at Fordham University.
  47. Remote Link - HTML Medieval Legal Sourcebook Collection of documents and links at Fordham University.
  48. Remote Link - HTML Pirate Code (Articles of Agreement) Pirates often had written constitutions, too, and many pre-dated those of the United States.
  49. Local Link - HTML Dead links Please help us find replacements.
The Constitution is a written instrument. As such, its meaning does not alter. That which it meant when it was adopted, it means now.
South Carolina v. United States, 199 U.S. 437, 448 (1905)


  1. Remote Link - HTML Vindicating the Founders, Thomas G. West Defense of the Founders' views and actions on slavery, women's rights, property rights, voting rights, and other controversial issues.
  2. Remote Link - HTML Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress
  3. Remote Link - HTML University of Virginia, Electronic Text Center Have writings of Thomas Jefferson.
  4. Remote Link - HTML Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Government Things Thomas Jefferson wrote.
  5. Remote Link - HTML James Madison Legacy Archive of James Madison University.
  6. Remote Link - HTML Franklin Institute Benjamin Franklin archive The Founder who contributed most to the concepts of federalism.
  7. Remote Link - HTML George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress Complete collection
  8. Remote Link - HTML The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799 Complete collection at the University of Virginia.
  9. Remote Link - HTML First in Peace: George Washington Celebration of the indispensible man of the second millenium of the common era.

Sources for pocket editions of the U.S. Constitution and other documents

Other nations

Student Government The principles of constitutional republican government also apply, with some adaptations, to this formative experience of future constitutionalists.

Constitutionalism Sometimes equated with the "Rule of Law", holds that government can and should be legally limited in its powers, and that its authority depends on enforcing those limitations.

Also see our links to Books and Publishers for things like prints of documents.

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Maintained: Jon Roland of the Constitution Society