The Library of Congress is home to many of the most important documents in American history. This Web site provides links to materials digitized from the collections of the Library of Congress that supplement and enhance the study of these crucial documents.
Provided by the National Archives, view digitized images and transcript of the Constitution as well as research its meaning and history. The National Archives also allows you to download high resolution images of the Constitution and the Amendments.
Chronicling America is a collection of over 600 newspapers from 30 states published between 1690-present, and it continues to grow. Backed by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, these newspapers are all freely available. Although each state on the previous page indicates if Chronicling America includes newspapers from it, this site also allows you to search all Chronicling America newspapers simultaneously.
An extensive compilation of presidential papers, documents, correspondences, messages, and more. Besides the collection of presidential documents, you can also search data on presidents and presidential elections, and videos of the president.
Finding Secondary Sources
A Leap in the Dark by John Ferling
Call Number: E195.F47 2003
Publication Date: 2003-06-12
It was an age of fascinating leaders and difficult choices, of grand ideas eloquently expressed and of epic conflicts bitterly fought. Now comes a brilliant portrait of the American Revolution, one that is compelling in its prose, fascinating in its details, and provocative in its fresh interpretations.In A Leap in the Dark, John Ferling offers a magisterial new history that surges from the first rumblings of colonial protest to the volcanic election of 1800.
Selected Writings of James Madison by James Madison; Ralph Ketcham (Editor, Introduction by)
Call Number: E302.M192 2006
Publication Date: 2006-06-15
The writings collected here reflect the Madison who emerges from the best scholarship of the last thirty years--scholarship to which Ralph Ketcham, as editor of The Papers of James Madison and in many other ways, has made stunning contributions. Ketcham's Introduction, a brief chronology, the text of the Constitution, and an index further distinguish this collection.
The Founding Fathers Reconsidered by R. B. Bernstein
Call Number: E302.5.B47 2009
Publication Date: 2009-05-05
Here is a concise, scholarly, yet accessible overview of the brilliant, flawed, and quarrelsome group of lawyers, politicians, merchants, military men, and clergy known as "the Founding Fathers" - who got as close to the ideal of the Platonic "philosopher-kings" as American or world history has ever seen.In The Founding Fathers Reconsidered, R. B. Bernstein reveals Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, and the other founders not as shining demigods but as imperfect human beings - people much like us - who nevertheless achieved political greatness.
Law in American History by G. Edward White
Call Number: KF352.W48 2012
Publication Date: 2012-02-20
In the first of the three volumes of his projected comprehensive narrative history of the role of law in America from the colonial years through the twentieth century, G. Edward White takes up the central themes of American legal history from the earliest European settlements through the Civil War. Included in the coverage of this volume are the interactions between European and Amerindian legal systems in the years of colonial settlement; the crucial role of Anglo-American theories of sovereignty and imperial governance in facilitating the separation of the American colonies from the British Empire in the late eighteenth century; the American "experiment" with federated republican constitutionalism in the founding period; the major importance of agricultural house holding, in the form of slave plantations as well as farms featuring wage labor, in helping to shape the development of American law in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; the emergence of the Supreme Court of the United States as an authoritative force in American law and politics in the early nineteenth century; the interactions between law, westward expansion, and transformative developments in transportation and communication in the antebellum years; the contributions of American legal institutions to the dissolution of the Union of American states in the three decades after 1830; and the often-overlooked legal history of the Confederacy and Union governments during the Civil War.
Where did the American democratic tradition begin? From ancient civilizations in Greece and Rome to the Enlightenment in Europe, democratic ideas throughout time have influenced the development of democracy in the United States. In The U.S. Constitution: Discover How Democracy Works, children ages 9 through 12 learn about the foundation of democracy and how the documents crafted hundreds of years ago still have an impact on our country today. They explore the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, among others. These documents provide a framework with which we make the laws and processes that help keep democracy a vital paradigm. Through hands-on projects, which include analyzing how the promises made in the Preamble of the Constitution were put into practice and investigating how to balance the freedom of speech in the digital age, students investigate how American democracy operates. With colorful illustrations, interesting sidebars, and links to online primary sources, this book asks readers to consider the effect of technology on democracy and make predictions about future documents that will be important to the preservation of democracy around the world.
Here is what the Framers of the Constitution thought about economic rights. To the current debate over constitutional interpretation, this book adds a dispassionate examination of our beginnings. It focuses on the philosophical, political, and social currents that influenced the thought and behavior of the Framers. What was the relationship between property rights and liberty? How important to the Framers was the protection of economic liberties? In what ways does the Constitution protect these liberties? Was the Constitution a document forged with the intent of securing what would later be called a capitalist system? Or were the Framers primarily concerned with promoting a society based upon civic virtue? These are a few of the major themes that the authors of this volume address.
In the spring of 1789, within weeks of the establishment of the new federal government based on the U.S. Constitution, the Senate and House of Representatives fell into dispute regarding how to address the president. Congress, the press, and individuals debated more than thirty titles, many of which had royal associations and some of which were clearly monarchical. For Fear of an Elective King is Kathleen Bartoloni-Tuazon's rich account of the title controversy and its meanings. The short, intense legislative phase and the prolonged, equally intense public phase animated and shaped the new nation's broadening political community. Rather than simply reflecting an obsession with etiquette, the question challenged Americans to find an acceptable balance between power and the people's sovereignty while assuring the country's place in the Atlantic world. Bartoloni-Tuazon argues that the resolution of the controversy in favor of the modest title of "President" established the importance of recognition of the people's views by the president and evidence of modesty in the presidency, an approach to leadership that fledged the presidency's power by not flaunting it. How the country titled the president reflected the views of everyday people, as well as the recognition by social and political elites of the irony that authority rested with acquiescence to egalitarian principles. The controversy's outcome affirmed the republican character of the country's new president and government, even as the conflict was the opening volley in increasingly partisan struggles over executive power. As such, the dispute is as relevant today as in 1789.
In this fascinating debunking of judicial supremacy, Devins and Fisher argue that nonjudicial contributions to constitutional interpretation make the Constitution more stable, more consistent with constitutional principles, and more protective of individual and minority rights. This highlyreadable narrative of how the Court and elected officials work in concert with the American people to shape constitutional values is an impressive affirmation of public participation in the political process.