United States Constitution
The members of the Constitutional Convention signed the United
States Constitution on September 17, 1787 in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. The Constitutional Convention convened in response
to dissatisfaction with the Articles of Confederation and
the need for a strong centralized government. After four months
of secret debate and many compromises, the proposed Constitution
was submitted to the states for approval. Although the vote
was close in some states, the Constitution was eventually
ratified and the new Federal government came into existence
in 1789. The Constitution established the U.S. government
as it exists today.
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Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional
Documents and Debates, 1774-1875
This collection contains congressional publications from 1774 to 1875, including debates, bills, laws, and journals.
Debates is a five-volume collection compiled by Jonathan
Elliot in the mid-nineteenth century. The volumes remain
the best source for materials about the national government's
transitional period between the closing of the Constitutional
Convention in September 1787 and the opening of the First
Federal Congress in March 1789.
Records gathered the documentary records of the
Constitutional Convention into four volumes, three
of which are included in this online collection,
containing the materials necessary to study the workings
of the Constitutional Convention. The notes taken
at that time by James Madison, and later revised
by him, form the largest single block of material
other than the official proceedings. The three volumes
also include notes and letters by many other participants,
as well as the various constitutional plans proposed
during the convention such as the Virginia
Making of the U.S. Constitution is a special presentation
that provides a brief history of the making of the Constitution
followed by the text of the Constitution as originally
from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention,
1774 to 1789
This collection contains 277 documents relating to the work of Congress and the drafting and ratification of the Constitution. Items include extracts of the journals of Congress, resolutions, proclamations, committee reports, treaties, and early printed versions of the United States Constitution.
The Constitutional Convention Broadside Collection (21 titles) dates from 1786 to 1789 and includes documents relating to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, extracts of proceedings of state assemblies and conventions relating to the ratification of the Constitution, and several essays on ratification. Most of the items in the collections are composed of a single sheet, meeting the classic definition of a broadside. Some items, however, range in length to twenty-eight pages. Search
on the word "Constitution" to find these broadsides.
This collection also contains an essay titled To
Form a More Perfect Union that examines American history
from 1774 to 1789, including the work of the Constitutional
The complete George Washington Papers collection from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 65,000 documents.
this collection using the words Constitution or Constitutional Convention to find additional
James Madison Papers, 1723 to 1859
The James Madison Papers consists of approximately 12,000
items that document the life of the man who came to be
known as the “Father of the Constitution.”
Includes an essay on Madison's role in the Constitutional
this collection to locate additional documents related
to the Constitution.
Printed Ephemera: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera
The Printed Ephemera collection comprises 28,000 primary-source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present and encompasses key events and eras in American history. Search
this collection to locate additional printed ephemera
related to the Constitution.
- Constitution of the United States of America.. [With] Ratification of the constitution of the United States by the convention of the state of Rhode Island and Providence plantations ... In Convention, May 29, 1790
- Poughkeepsie, July 2, 1788. Just arrived by express, The ratification of the new constitution by the Convention of the State of Virginia, on Wednesday the 25th June, by a majority of 10; 88 agreeing, and 78 dissenting to its adoption
- Richmond, State of Virginia. In Convention, Wednesday the 25th of June, 1788. The Convention, according to the order of the day resolved itself into a committee of the whole convention to take into farther consideration the proposed constitution
- Supplement to the Independent Journal, New-York, July 2, 1788. In our Independent Journal of this morning, we announced the ratification of the new constitution by the convention of Virginia
- To the people of Maryland. The following facts, disclosing the conduct of the late convention of Maryland is submitted to the serious consideration of the citizens of the state ... [n. p. 1788]
Thomas Jefferson Papers, 1606 to 1827
The complete Thomas Jefferson Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 27,000 documents.
- Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, December 20, 1787. Jefferson received a copy of the Constitution
in November, 1787, while living in France. Beginning on
the second page of this letter to James Madison, Jefferson expressed his opinions on the
new Constitution, including his belief that a Bill of
Rights was needed.
- Alexander Hamilton, June 18, 1787, Proposals for United States Constitutional Convention
- Thomas Jefferson, 1788, Notes on the United States Constitution
this collection using the words "Constitution"
or "Constitutional Convention" to find additional
documents on this topic.
and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating
the Manuscript Division's First 100 Years
In honor of the Manuscript Division's centennial, its staff has selected for online display approximately ninety representative documents spanning from the fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.
Back in Time: The New United States of America Adopted the
Bill of Rights
December 15, 1791
Amazing Americans: James Madison's Contribution to the Constitution
Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation
The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation (popularly known as the Constitution Annotated) contains legal analysis and interpretation of the United States Constitution, based primarily on Supreme Court case law. This regularly updated resource is especially useful when researching the constitutional implications of a specific issue or topic.
Treasures of the Library of Congress - Report of the Committee
On July 24, 1787, the Federal Convention appointed a
five-man Committee of Detail, chaired by John Rutledge
of South Carolina, to prepare a draft constitution that
encompassed the results of deliberations up to that point.
Treasures of the Library of Congress - Report of the Committee
During the Constitutional Convention, the Committee of
Style was appointed "to revise the style of, and
arrange, the articles which have been agreed to by the
House." On September 12, 1787, the Convention ordered
copies printed and distributed to the delegates. This
copy belonged to James Madison.
Creating the United States
This online exhibition offers insights into how the
founding documents were forged and the role that imagination
and vision played in the unprecedented creative act of
forming a self–governing country. The exhibition
contains a section on creating
the United States Constitution.
Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor
This exhibition commemorates the 800th anniversary of the creation of Magna Carta, the charter of liberties that England’s King John granted to his barons in 1215 in order to halt their rebellion and restore their allegiance to his throne. The exhibition contains a section on the Magna Carta and the U.S. Constitution.
Memory Timeline: The United States Constitution
Discusses the Constitutional Convention and links to
Constitution Day Teacher Resources
In celebration of Constitution Day, the Library of Congress has compiled a variety of materials from across its collections related to the U.S. Constitution.
Source Set: The Constitution
This Primary Source Set includes images, documents, maps,
sound files and analysis tools to help teach about the
United States Constitution.
Members of the Constitutional Convention signed the final
draft of the Constitution on September 17, 1787.
Known as the Federalist Papers, the first in a series
of eighty-five essays by "Publius," the pen
name of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay,
appeared in the New York Independent
Journal on October 27, 1787.
On December 12, 1787, delegates to the Pennsylvania ratifying
convention meeting at the Pennsylvania State House voted
to ratify the Constitution.
The New Jersey ratifying caucus approved the Constitution
on December 18, 1787.
On January 9, 1788, Connecticut ratified the Constitution,
becoming the fifth state in the Union.
On July 26, 1788, the Convention of the State of New
York, meeting in Poughkeepsie, voted to ratify the Constitution.
The new United States of America adopted the Bill of
Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution,
confirming the fundamental rights of its citizens on December
Award-winning author and journalist Linda
R. Monk discussed her book, The
Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution
(Hyperion, 2003), at the Library of Congress on April 14,
American Constitution - A Documentary Record, The
Avalon Project at Yale Law School
America's Founding Documents: Constitution of the United States, National
Archives and Records Administration
Documentary Resources, Center for the Study of the American Constitution
Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation, Government Printing Office
Founders' Constitution, University of Chicago Press
and the Liberty Fund
Constitution, National Constitution Center
Documents, Constitution of the United States, National
Archives and Records Administration
Amar, Akhil Reed. America’s
Constitution: A Biography. New York: Random House,
Bowen, Catherine Drinker. Miracle
at Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention,
May to September, 1787. Boston: Little, Brown, 1986.
Collier, Christopher, and James Lincoln Collier. Decision
in Philadelphia: The Constitutional Convention of 1787.
New York: Random House, 1986. [Catalog
Maddex, Robert L., The U.S. Constitution
A to Z. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2008. [Catalog
Maier, Pauline. Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010. [Catalog
Monk, Linda R. The Words We Live
By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution.
New York: Hyperion, 2003. [Catalog
Rakove, Jack N. Original Meanings:
Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution.
New York: A.A. Knopf, 1996. [Catalog
Stewart, David O. The Summer of 1787:
The Men Who Invented the Constitution. New York:
Simon & Schuster, 2007.
Vile, John R. The Constitutional Convention of 1787: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of America's Founding. 2 vols. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2005. [Catalog
-----. The Men Who Made the Constitution: Lives of the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2013. [Catalog Record]
Banks, Joan. The U.S. Constitution.
Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2001. [Catalog
Bjornlund, Lydia D. The Constitution
and the Founding of America. San Diego, Calif.: Lucent
Books, 2000. [Catalog
Collier, Christopher, and James Lincoln Collier. Creating
the Constitution, 1787. New York: Benchmark Books,
Faber, Doris, and Harold Faber. We
the People: The Story of the United States Constitution
Since 1787. New York: Scribner's, 1987. [Catalog
Fritz, Jean. Shh! We're Writing the
Constitution. New York: Putnam, 1987. [Catalog
Orr, Tamra. The Story of the Constitution. Hockessin, Del.: Mitchell Lane Publishers, 2012. [Catalog
Shea, Therese. The United States Constitution. New York: Gareth Stevens Publishing, 2014. [Catalog
Sonneborn, Liz. The United States Constitution. Chicago: Heinemann Library, 2013. [Catalog Record]