The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States (Bantam Classic)
The Declaration of Independence was the promise of a representative government; the Constitution was the fulfillment of that promise.
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress issued a unanimous declaration: the thirteen North American colonies would be the thirteen United States of America, free and independent of Great Britain. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration set forth the terms of a new form of government with the following words: "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
Framed in 1787 and in effect since March 1789, the Constitution of the United States of America fulfilled the promise of the Declaration by establishing a republican form of government with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, became part of the Constitution on December 15, 1791. Among the rights guaranteed by these amendments are freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and the right to trial by jury. Written so that it could be adapted to endure for years to come, the Constitution has been amended only seventeen times since 1791 and has lasted longer than any other written form of government.
Constitution said nothing) to the legislature. Finally, on September 28, 1789, after Madison’s proposal was revised by the House, the Senate, and a conference committee, Congress sent to the states for ratification twelve proposed amendments. They would be listed at the end of the Constitution because Representative Roger Sherman of Connecticut insisted that Congress could not alter the body of the Constitution, which had been ratified by the people. Congress, with the consent of three-quarters
later made its way to the altar in the National Archives.49 The story of the Americans’ “founding documents” is not a simple one: documents once lost were later rediscovered. The Constitution’s importance was never in doubt, but the Declaration of Independence underwent a massive redefinition and rise in importance in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. And the Bill of Rights in particular piggybacked its way to prominence on the Declaration of Independence, or, more
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,
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
executive and a national judiciary, and the national legislature would have substantially greater power—including the powers to tax and to regulate commerce. The legislature under the New Jersey Plan would be unicameral, not bicameral, as Virginia suggested, and each state would have one vote, as under the Articles of Confederation. But the laws of Congress and treaties ratified under the power of the United States would become “the supreme law of the respective States” and the federal executive