Library of Congress

Text and Commentaries

  • Constitution of the United States of America as Amended: Unratified Amendments, Analytical Index (U.S. House of Representatives, via GPO Access) July 5, 2007; H.Doc. 110-50
  • Constitution of the United States, Analysis and Interpretation: Annotations of Cases Decided by the Supreme Court of the United States (Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, via GPO Access) 2002 edition (S.Doc. 108-17) with June 26, 2008 supplement (S.Doc. 110-17)
  • U.S. Constitution (Library of Congress, National Digital Library Program) from Annals of Congress, volume 1
  • U.S. Constitution (National Archives and Records Administration) links to amendments which amend the Constitution; provides images of the original document
  • U.S. Constitution (U.S. House of Representatives) 1787 full text; HTML; with footnotes and links to documents
  • U.S. Constitution (Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute) HTML; without annotations
  • U.S. Constitution (Emory University School of Law, Founding Documents)
  • United States Index (University of Wuerzburg, International Constitutional Law project) HTML, with Background Note, and a key number system to located parts; links to other editions
  • Constitution du 17 septembre 1787 (Juristisches Internetprojeket Saarbruken) in French
  • United States of America: Constitutions / Constituciones (Georgetown University Political Database of the Americas) in English and Spanish

Constitution Day

  • Constitution Day: Selective Resources (Law Library of Congress)
  • Constitution Day Resources (Library of Congress. THOMAS)
  • Constitution Day (U.S. Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts)
  • Constitution Day (U.S. Dept. of Education)
  • Constitution Day (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration)
  • Constitution Day Initiative (U.S. Office of Personnel Management)
  • Constitution Day (U.S. Senate)
  • Constitution Day (Bill of Rights Institute)
  • Constitution Day: Lessons September 17 (Center for Civic Education)
  • Constitution Day (National Endowment for the Humanities)
  • Constitution Day (National Constitution Center)
  • Constitution Day (Annenberg Foundation)
  • Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005, Pub.L. 108-447, 118 Stat. 2809 (Dec. 8, 2004; H.R. 4818); see Section 111(c) of Division J, pages 3344-45 or the following direct PDF options:

Historical Texts

The Federalist (1788), and various other historical documents such as Magna Carta (1215), are sometimes credited with having influenced the content of the Constitution of the United States or its initial Amendments (the Bill or Rights), or, in the case of the Constitution of the Confederate States of America, with having been influenced by the U.S. Constitution although it radically attempted to change its effect.

Articles of Confederation (1781) (The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy) 

Documents of the Confederate States of America (1861)  (The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy) Includes the Constitution of Confederate States of America, and other Confederate legal documents.

Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention (U.S. Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress)

CONTINENTAL CONGRESS: Journals of the Continental Congress; Eliot’s The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of  the Federal Constitution; and Farrand’s The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 (U.S. Library of Congress, National Digital Law Library Program)

Declaration of Independence, including Jefferson’s draft  (Emory University School of Law’s U.S. Founding Documents) Provides the text of the Declaration of Independence of 1776 along with a scanned images of the original document as well as of the four pages of a Thomas Jefferson’s draft of the document.

Declaration of Independence in text and images images (National Archives and Records Administration) Includes the text and scanned images of the original and the initial stone engraving of the documents as well as useful commentaries. See also Declaration of Independence: Right to Institute New Government (Library of Congress) 

U.S. Founding Documents: The Federalist Papers (Emory University School of Law) The Federalist (also known as “The Federalist Papers“) issued as a series of highly influential essays in support of the proposed United States Constitution, most of which appeared initially in New York newspapers under the pen name “Publius” during 1787 and 1788. The actual authors were Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison. See also the copies at University of Oklahoma Law Center’s The Federalist Papers and Yale’s Avalon Project

Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776 (National Archives and Records Administration) The immensely influential Virginia Declaration of Rights, written by George Mason, was adopted by the colonial convention June 12, 1776. The opening of the Declaration of Independence (adopted a few weeks) borrowed from this document, and the U.S. Bill of Rights was adopted directly from this version of the natural rights of man as previously proclaimed in the English Bill of Rights of 1689 (see below) and philosophers such as John Locke. See also the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776 (Avalon Project)


FRANCE: Declaration of the Rights of Man, 1789 in English (The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy) French counterpart to the American “Bill of Rights” drafted by Lafayette with the assistance of  Thomas Jefferson, and approved by the National Assembly of France August 26, 1789.  See also Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen de 1789 (Assemblée Nationale) – in French

ENGLAND: [English] Bill of Rights of 1689: An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown (The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy) Provided specific inspiration for American “Bill of Rights” made into law almost a century later.

ENGLAND: Exhibit: Magna Carta  (National Archives and Records Administration) The “Great Charter” version of 1297, which despite its original limited application has long been regarded as a foundation for the development of English liberties and political rights. Although King John of England was pressured into signing the first version, in 1215, (see below), and he violated its terms almost immediately, later kings repeatedly were compelled to confirm the limits Magna Carta set on royal powers, and the document proved immensely important hundreds of years after it was initially ignored. Portions are even reflected closely in the U.S. Bill of Rights. A translation of the text of the version of 1297, used to confirm its continuing effect at the coronation of Edward I, is offered at this site along with images of this original document, and commentaries.

ENGLAND: Magna Carta, 1215 (The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy) Translated from Latin to English of what is believed to be the first version (from 1215) of the “Great Charter.” Includes glossary.

GREECE: Athenian Constitution by Aristotle (in English) Sir Frederic G. Kenyon’s translation of Aristotle on the political structure (or constitution) of the ancient city-state of Athens, which is usually considered a prime inspiration for the form of government chosen for the United States.

IROQUOIS: Iroquois Constitution / The Great Binding Law Gayanshagowa (Indigenous Peoples Literature) The English version of the historic Great Binding Law (“Gayanshagowa”) of the Iroqouis’ Five Nations Confederacy, which is as much a social document as a legal document.

Judicial Decisions

RECENT DECISIONS: Supreme Court Syllabi Search (Cornell LII, Supreme Court Collection) Elsewhere, topics are listed by amendment topic and number; i.e. First Amendment; see Decisions by Topic, 1990 to Present

SUPREME COURT DECISIONS: Guide to Law Online: U.S. Federal Courts and Decisions (Law Library of Congress) Includes other links to Supreme Court cases.

Legal Guides