OF OUR LIBERTIES
The Constitution of the
United States of America
Note: The following text is a transcription of the
Constitution in its original form. Items in bold have since been amended or superseded.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more
perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the
common defense, 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.
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.
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
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.
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
The Vice President of the United States shall be
President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
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.
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.
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.
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 a Bill.
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
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among
the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies
throughout 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, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right
to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish
Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal,
and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer
Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
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 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;
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 thereof.
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.
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.
Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the
Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.
Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.
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.
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 time.
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 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.
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 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:
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.
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
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
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 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 them.
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."
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in
the several States.
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.
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 due.
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 State.
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.
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 its equal Suffrage
in the Senate.
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
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 notwithstanding.
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.
of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of
this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.
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.
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 Independence of
the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed
Presidt and deputy from Virginia
Gunning Bedford jun
Dan of St Thos. Jenifer
James Madison Jr.
Richd. Dobbs Spaight
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
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the Bill of Rights
the remaining amendments to the Constitution
Declaration of Independence
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