C O N S T I T U T I O N
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
WE, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect
union, establish justice, ensure 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.
1. All legislative powers herein granted, shall be vested in a congress of
the United States, which shall consist of a senate and house of
1. 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.
2. 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.
xviii THE CONSTITUTION.
3. 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 choose
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.
4. When vacancies happen in the representation from any state, the
executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such
5. The house of representatives shall choose their speaker and other
officers; and shall have the sole power of impeachment.
1. 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.
2. 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
THE CONSTITUTION. xix
of any state, the executive thereof may make temporary appointments until
the next meeting of the legislature, which shall then fill such vacancies.
3. No person shall be a senator who shall not have attained to the age of
thirty years, and been nine years a citizen or the United States, and who
shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state for which he shall
4. The vice-president of the United States shall be president of the
senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.
5. The senate shall choose 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.
6. 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.
7. Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to
removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of
honour, 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.
1. 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 choosing senators.
2. 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.
xx THE CONSTITUTION.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
1. 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.
2. 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 increased during such time; and no person holding any office under the
United States, shall be a member of either house during his continuance in
THE CONSTITUTION. xxi
1. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the house of
representatives; but the senate may propose or concur with amendments as on
2. 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.
3. 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 re-passed by two-thirds of the senate and
house of representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed
in the case of a bill.
The congress shall have power
1. To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the
debts and provide for the common defence and gen-
xxii THE CONSTITUTION.
eral welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts, and excises,
shall be uniform throughout the United States:
2. To borrow money on the credit of the United States:
3. To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several
states, and with the Indian tribes:
4. To establish an uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the
subject of bankruptcies through out the United States:
5. To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix
the standard of weights and measures:
6. To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and
current coin of the United States:
7. To establish post-offices and post-roads:
8. To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing, for
limited times, to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their
respective writings and discoveries:
9. To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court:
10. To define and punish piracies, and felonies, committed on the high
seas, and offences against the law of nations:
11. To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules
concerning captures on land and water:
12. To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use
shall be for a longer term than two years:
13. To provide and maintain a navy:
14. To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval
15. To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the
Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions:
16. To provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the militia, 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:
17. To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such
district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular
states, and acceptance of congress,
THE CONSTITUTION. xxiii
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
18. 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 thereof.
1. 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
2. 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
3. No bill of attainder or ex post facto law shall be passed.
4. No capitation, or other direct tax shall be laid, unless in proportion
to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.
5. No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state. 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.
6. 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
7. 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
xxvi THE CONSTITUTION.
1. 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 nobility.
2. No state shall, without the consent of the congress, lay any imposts or
duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for
executing its 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 control 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.
SECTION 1 .
l. 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
2. 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 an elector.
3. 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
THE CONSTITUTION. xxv
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 choose 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 choose the
president. But in choosing 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
choose from them by ballot the vice-president.
4. The congress may determine the time of choosing the electors, and the
day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same
throughout the United States.
5. 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.
6. 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 pres-
xxvi THE CONSTITUTION.
ident, and such officer shall act accordingly, until the disability be
removed, or a president shall be elected.
7. The president shall, at stated times, receive for his services, a
compensation, which shall neither be increased 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
8. Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the
following oath or affirmation:
9. " 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
l. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
THE CONSTITUTION. xxvii
1. He shall from time to time give to the congress information or 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.
1. 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.
SECTION 1 .
l. 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.
1. 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,
xxviii THE CONSTITUTION.
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.
2. In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and
consuls, and those in which a state shall be a 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
3. 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 have directed.
1. 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 open court.
2. 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.
1. 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.
1. The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and
immunities of citizens in the several states.
THE CONSTITUTION. xxix
2. 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.
3. 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 be
1. 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.
2. 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 state.
1. 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.
1. 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 or the several states, shall
call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be
valid to all intents and
xxx THE CONSTITUTION.
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 its equal suffrage
in the senate.
1. All debts contracted and engagements entered into, before the adoption
of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under
this Constitution, as under the confederation.
2. 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 thins in
the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.
3. 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
1. 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 CONSTITUTION. xxxi
AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION.
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
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;
xxxii THE CONSTITUTION.
be compelled, in any criminal case, to be a witness against himself, not 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 favour; 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 reexamined 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 inflicted.
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 CONSTITUTION. xxxiii
The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend
to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the
United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of
any foreign state.
l. The electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot
for president and vice-president, one of whom, at least, shall not be an
inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their
ballots the person voted for as president, and in distinct ballots the
person voted for as vice-president; and they shall make distinct lists of
all persons voted for as president, and of all persons voted for as
vicepresident, and of the number of votes for each, which lists 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 for president,
shall be the president, if such number be a majority of the whole number of
electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the
persons having the highest numbers, not exceeding three, on the list of
those voted for as president, the house of representatives shall choose
immediately, by ballot, the president. But in choosing 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. And if the house of representatives shall not
choose a president whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them,
before the fourth day of March next following, then the vice-president
shall act as president, as in the case of the death or other constitutional
disability of the president.
xxxiv THE CONSTITUTION.
2. The person having the greatest number of votes as vicepresident, shall
be the vice-president, if such number be a majority of the whole number of
electors appointed; and if no person have a majority, then from the two
highest numbers on the list, the senate shall choose the vice-president: a
quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of
senators, a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice.
3. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of president,
shall be eligible to that of vice-president of the United States.