We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution, Level 3
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"Left Wing Manifesto" (1919)

The "Left Wing Manifesto" was a document by Benjamin Gitlow, used as the basis for his prosecution on anarchy charges by the state of New York. While the U.S. Supreme Court upheld his conviction, its opinion held for the first time that the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause protected personal rights from infringement by the states.

A Modell of Christian Charity ("City Upon a Hill" sermon)--John Winthrop, 1630

Believed to be written and delivered en route to Massachusetts, Rev. Winthrop warned his Puritan colonists that their new community would be a "city upon a hill," watched by the world.

Association of the Sons of Liberty of New York, 1773

A publication of an organization of American colonists formed in 1765 to oppose the Stamp Act.

Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

From Wikipedia: Civil Disobedience (Resistance to Civil Government) is an essay by Henry David Thoreau first published in 1849. It argues that people should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that people have a duty to avoid letting the government make them the agents of injustice.

Discourses on Livy--Niccolo Machiavelli

Machiavelli's early work on the benefits and structure of a republican government.

Emile, or On Education by Rousseau

From Wikipedia: Emile, or On Education is a treatise on the nature of education but also on the nature of man, written by Rousseau. It tackles fundamental political and philosophical questions about the relationship between the individual and society.

Federal Register

The Federal Register is the official journal of the U.S. federal government, and contains unclassified public notices from federal agencies.

New Atlantis--Francis Bacon, 1627

From Wikipedia: Released in English in 1627, this utopian novel was Bacon's creation of an ideal land where "generosity and enlightenment, dignity and splendor, piety and public spirit" were the commonly held qualities of its inhabitants.

Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences--Luther, 1517

Luther used these theses to display his displeasure with some of the Roman Catholic clergy's abuses, most notably the sale of indulgences; this ultimately gave birth to Protestantism.

Of Commerce--David Hume, 1752

Hume's essay on the ways politics and economics overlap.

Some Thoughts Concerning Education by John Locke (1693)

Some Thoughts Concerning Education is a 1693 treatise on education written by the English philosopher John Locke.

The Fallacies of the Freeman Detected by a [Pennsylvania] Farmer

A discussion arguing that the proposed constitution does not form a federal government but a consolidated one, and questioning whether the benefits of the proposed constitution are worth surrendering states' rights.

The Federalist Papers

A collection of eighty-five essays advocating the ratification of the constitution proposed at the Philadelphia Convention, properly called The Federalist, written between October, 1787 and May, 1788 by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay.

The Prince by Machiavelli

From Wikipedia: The Prince is a political treatise by the Italian public servant and political theorist Niccolo Machiavelli. It was originally written in 1513, but not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death. The Prince was one of the first works of modern philosophy, in which pragmatic ends, opposed to teleological concepts, are the purpose.

The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved--James Otis Jr., 1764

In the wake of the Seven Years' War, as relations between the colonies and Britain worsened, Otis wrote this pamphlet asserting that divine right existed not in single men, but in all people.

The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right--Rousseau, 1762

In this book, Rousseau examines the nature of legitimate authority and political community with regard to man's place in the state of nature.

Thoughts on Government, Applicable to the Present State of the American Colonies--John Adams, 1776

From Wikipedia: This was written in response to a resolution of the North Carolina Provincial Congress, giving suggestions on the establishment of a new government and the drafting of a constitution.

Two Treatises of Government--John Locke, 1689

From Wikipedia: The Two Treatises of Government was published anonymously in 1689 by John Locke. The First Treatise attacks the patriotic state, and the Second Treatise outlines his thoughts on civil society based on natural rights and contract theory.

A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North-America, Now Met in Congress at Philadelphia, Setting Forth the Causes and Necessity of Their Taking Up Arms

From Wikipedia: The Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms was a document issued by the Second Continental Congress on July 6, 1775, to explain why the thirteen colonies had taken up arms in what had become the Revolutionary War.

A resolution of House of Commons, 1669

A resolution of the House of Commons in 1669 guaranteeing the right to petition the lower house of Parliament.

Abolition of Star Chamber

The Star Chamber was a court that heard criminal and civil cases against prominent Englishmen, who, it was believed, would not receive a fair trial in the regular courts. In 1641, it was abolished by Parliament after controversial incidents with religious dissenters.

Act of Supremacy 1533

From Wikipedia: The first Act of Supremacy granted King Henry VIII of England Royal Supremacy which is still the legal authority of the Sovereign of the United Kingdom. Royal Supremacy is specifically used to describe the legal sovereignty of the civil laws over religious ones, which validated Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn.

Adam Smith--Wealth of Nations, 1776

Adam Smith's view on the state of economics during the Industrial Revolution as well as his thoughts on free market economies.

Agreement of the Settlers at Exeter in New Hampshire 1639

A petition to King Charles I seeking permission to found and settle the town of Exeter, New Hampshire.

Airline Passenger Bill of Rights

An airline passenger bill of rights would guarantee that certain conditions are met at various stages of airline travel.

Alabama Literacy test in 1965

Alabama's Literacy Test in 1965. Such tests were used as a requirement to register to vote until restrictions in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 made them all but illegal.

Albany Plan of Union 1754

From Wikipedia: Benjamin Franklin's early attempt at forming a union of the colonies "under one government as far as might be necessary for defense and other general important purposes."

Alexander Hamilton, The Examination #12

Hamilton's thoughts on Article 3, Section 1 of the Constitution: "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."

An Apology for Printers by Benjamin Franklin (1731)

Franklin believed in the trade of printing as indispensable to his highest goals for society: the spread of knowledge and ideas necessary to self-governance. He laid out these views in his essay "An Apology for Printers."

An Old Whig No. 2

Anti-Federalist paper questioning the power that the necessary and proper clause gives to the federal government under the proposed constitution.

Annapolis Convention Report

The report of the Annapolis Convention of 1786, noting that delegates were unable to make sufficient progress toward a resolution, and called for a meeting the following May, which would be known as the Philadelphia Convention.

Aristotle--Politics, 350 BCE

Aristotle's work on such topics as the political community, economics, property rights, citizenship, leadership, constitutions and the ideal state.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution

Article V of the Constitution states the process by which the Constitution may be altered.

Articles of Association 1774

The First Continental Congress drafted the Articles of Association in 1774 to implement a trade boycott against Britain without severing allegiance to the crown.

Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation were, in effect, the first constitution of the United States. Drafted in 1777 by the same Continental Congress that passed the Declaration of Independence, the articles established a "firm league of friendship" between and among the 13 states.

Articles of Impeachment Against William J. Clinton

From Wikipedia: President Bill Clinton, was impeached by the House of Representatives on December 19, 1998. The House drafted a total of four articles of impeachment related to the Paula Jones lawsuit and Monica Lewinsky scandal. It was only the second impeachment of a president in American history, following the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in 1868.

Atlantic Charter, 1941

From Wikipedia: The Atlantic Charter was the blueprint for the world after World War II, and is the foundation for many of the international treaties and organizations that currently shape the world.

Bacon's Declaration 1676

The declaration of grievances issued to Governor William Berkeley by wealthy planter Nathaniel Bacon and his army.

Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, 1949

From Wikipedia: The Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany serves as the constitution of Germany. It was formally approved on May 8, 1949, and, with the signature of the Allies, came into effect on May 23, 1949, as the constitution of West Germany.

Benjamin Franklin's Speech to the Constitutional Convention

Franklin's speech, delivered by James Wilson, in favor of the new Constitution, despite its possible faults.

Bill of Rights (1791): The original 12 proposed amendments

James Madison originally submitted 17 amendments to become the Bill of RIghts. All were passed by the House of Representatives, but only 12 were passed by the Senate and the states ratified 10 of them.

Bill of Rights, as submitted for ratification

The Bill of Rights as it was submitted to the states for ratification. It included a preamble and ten proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Blackstone Commentaries on the Laws of England

From Wikipedia: The Commentaries on the Laws of England are an influential 18th century treatise on the common law of England by Sir William Blackstone, originally published by the Clarendon Press at Oxford, 1765-1769.

Boston Port Act, 1774

An act of British Parliament in response to the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Port Act blockaded the Port of Boston, preventing the loading or shipping of any goods until restitutions were made for loss of customs duties to the crown and damages to the East India Company.

Brutus No. 1

Anti-Federalist argument for a federal republic with authority resting in the state governments.

Brutus No. 2

An Anti-Federalist paper arguing in favor of a bill of rights.

Brutus No. 7

An argument against a strong national government in favor of more power resting in the states. Brutus speaks specifically to the idea of taxation and government debt to fund protection and defense.

Centinel No. 11

Anti-Federalist paper published in the Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer and Philadelphia Freeman's Journal, arguing that people a fear or anarchy is not enough reason to justify ratifying the Constitution.

Centinel No. 5

Anti-Federalist paper questioning the power that the necessary and proper clause gives to the federal government under the proposed constitution.

Charter for the Province of Pennsylvania 1861

Official permission from King Charles II for settlers to "have, hold, possess, and enjoy" the land in Pennsylvania for the purpose of expanding the British Empire.

Charter of Georgia, 1732

Document by King George II establishing a colony for the "poor people" of Britain to relocate to Georgia.

Cicero--De re publica (The Republic or On The Commonwealth), 54-51BC

Cicero's theories of constitutions, education, and citizenship.

Circular Letter of the Boston Committee of Correspondence

A letter written by Samuel Adams in response to the Boston Port Act, which closed all trade in and out of Boston Harbor in response to the Boston Tea Party.

Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-1769), by William Blackstone

William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England divides the history of English common law into four categories: rights of persons, rights of things, private wrongs (torts), and public wrongs (crimes). Written to be understood by non-lawyers, this work became an important source of legal information for the American colonists.

Complete Works, by Montesquieu

Montesquieu (Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brede et de Montesquieu) was a French nobleman and lawyer, recognized as one of greatest thinkers of Enlightenment. He first gained fame for a satire, the Persian Letters, in 1721, pointing out absurdities of modern European, especially French, life. He also published Considerations of the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and of their Decline (anonymously) in 1734. His masterpiece, The Spirit of the Laws, published 1748, was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books by Catholic Church because of "liberal" views.

Constitution of May 3, 1791 (Constitution of Poland), 1791

From Wikipedia: The Constitution of May 3, 1791 is generally regarded as Europe's first and the world's second modern codified national constitution, following the 1788 ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

Constitution of Pennsylvania 1776

A highly democratic early constitution, creating a unicameral legislature, a council of censors, a legislatively elected judiciary and a legislatively elected president.

Constitution of South Africa

From WIkipedia: The Constitution of South Africa is the supreme law of the country of South Africa. It provides the legal foundation for the existence of the Republic of South Africa, sets out the rights and duties of the citizens of South Africa, and defines the structure of the Government of South Africa.

Constitution of the Confederate States of America, 1861

The text of the Constitution of the Confederate States of America in 1861.

Constitution of the Iroquois League

The Iroquois nations' political union and democratic government has been credited as one of the influences on the Articles of Confederation and the United States Constitution.

Constitution of the State of Alaska 1956

The Constitution of the State of Alaska is the basic governing document of the State of Alaska, which was ratified in 1956 and took effect in 1959 when Alaska became the 50th state to join the United States.

Contract For Quarrying & Dressing Stone, 1248

Contract between two parties regarding stone quarrying work.

Contract with America

An agenda to reform many aspects of American national government championed by Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Credentials of the Members of the Federal Convention : State of New Hampshire; June 27, 1787

The act appointing New Hampshire's delegates to the Constitutional Convention.

Credentials of the Members of the Federal Convention. Commonwealth of Massachusetts; April 9, 1787

An act for appointing Massachusetts delegates to the Constitutional Convention.

Credentials of the State of Connecticut 1787

An act for appointing Connecticut's delegates to the Constitutional Convention.

Daniel Shays to Selectment of South Hadley, October 23, 1786

Shays's notice to his troops to be ready to fight within a minute's notice.

David Hume--A Treatise of Human Nature, 1739

Hume's seminal work, including his theories on morals, origins of government, laws of nations, political legitimacy, justice, and property.

De Libellis Famosis (1606)

From Wikipedia: The crime of seditious libel was defined and established in England during the 1606 case De Libellis Famosis by the Star Chamber. The case defined seditious libel as criticism of public persons, the government, or King.

De Officiis (On Moral Duties), by Marcus Tullius Cicero

Cicero's De Officiis is a profound meditation on morality and moral duty, including moral principles as applied to public life. The book has deeply influenced Western civilization since its writing in 44 BC. De Officiis was so influential that when the printing press was invented, it was the second book to be printed after the Bible.

Debate between Justices Scalia and Breyer, 2005

The 2005 debate between Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer largely centered around the examination of foreign case law in interpreting U.S. cases.

Declaration of Independence (1776)

The Declaration of Independence is a proclamation passed by Congress on July 2, 1776, and issued on July 4, announcing the separation of the "United Colonies" from Britain and the formation of a new nation, the United States of America. The document listed reasons for the separation and a philosophical argument in defense of the action.

Declaration of Independence 1776

From Wikipedia: The United States Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American Colonies then at war with Great Britain were now independent states, and thus no longer a part of the British Empire.

Declaration of Rights and Grievances of the First Congress of the American Colonies, 1765

The Declaration of Rights from the Stamp Act Congress declared that, as loyal British subjects, taxes imposed upon colonies without formal consent were unconstitutional.

Declaratory Act of 1766

The Declaratory Act was an act of the British Parliament in 1766, stating that Parliament had the right to make laws for the colonies in all matters.

Detente with the USSR 1969-1980

Detente with the USSR policy from 1969-1980.

Edmund Burke's Speech to the Electors at Bristol, 1774

Edmund Burke's acceptance speech after being elected to represent Bristol, in which he defends the principles of representative democracy.

English Bill of Rights 1689

Act passed by the British Parliament in 1689 enumerating rights of British subjects and residents.

English Translation of Magna Carta

English translation of Magna Carta

Equal Access Act of 1984

From Wikipedia: The Equal Access Act is a U.S. federal law passed in 1984 to compel federally-funded secondary schools to provide equal access to extracurricular clubs.

Federal Farmer No. 11

Anti-Federalist paper suggesting improvements to the proposed organization of the legislative branch to increase representation and representativeness.

Federal Farmer No. 15

Anti-Federalist paper suggesting improvements to the proposed organization of the judicial branch.

Federal Farmer No. 17

An argument for a federal republic over what the author calls "consolidated government." The Federal Farmer claims that the proposed constitution would make all citizens subjects of the legislature.

Federal Farmer No. 18

An Anti-Federalist paper addressing the powers of state militias and federal armed forces, the relationship between bankruptcy and government seizures of property, and of a town that houses the government but is not part of any of the 13 states.

Federal Farmer No. 4

Anti-Federalist paper questioning the proposed constitution in the areas of the necessary and proper clause, taxation, the office of the vice president, popular sovereignty and the need for a bill of rights.

Federal Farmer No. 7

An Anti-Federalist essay, criticizing the proposed constitution and outlining the Federal Farmer's goals for future letters.

Federal Farmer No. 8

An Anti-Federalist argument for a federal republic with authority resting in the state governments.

Federalist No. 1

From WIkipedia: Federalist No. 1 is an essay by Alexander Hamilton and the first of the Federalist Papers, a preface in broad terms of the forthcoming arguments in favor of the proposed constitution.

Federalist No. 10

From Wikipedia: Federalist No. 10 is an essay by James Madison arguing for the ratification of the United States Constitution. It addresses the question of how to guard against "factions" with interests contrary to the rights of others or the interests of the whole community.

Federalist No. 14

From Wikipedia: Federalist No. 14 is an essay titled, "Objections to the Proposed Constitution From Extent of Territory Answered" by James Madison addressing a major objection of the Anti-Federalists to the proposed Constitution: that the sheer size of the United States would make it impossible to govern justly as a single country.

Federalist No. 33

Hamilton's arguments in favor of the necessary and proper clause and the supremacy clause.

Federalist No. 34

From Wikipedia: Hamilton's aim is to demonstrate that a government must have unlimited power of taxation for such circumstances as war and natural disaster.

Federalist No. 37

From Wikipedia: Federalist No. 37 is an essay by James Madison, published on January 11, 1788 discussing some of the political questions raised at the Constitutional Convention, such as the question of the authority of the state versus the liberty of the people.

Federalist No. 39

From Wikipedia: In No. 39, James Madison argues that the operation of the government will be republican but the principles of that operation will be democratic.

Federalist No. 42

From Wikipedia: Federalist No. 42 is an essay by James Madison, contending that the grant of specific powers to the federal government actually operates to limit the power of the federal government to act with respect to the states.

Federalist No. 43

Federalist No. 43, written by James Madison and titled, ""The Same Subject Continued: The Powers Conferred by the Constitution Further Considered," continues Federalist No. 42 on ratification.

Federalist No. 45

Federalist No. 45 was written by James Madison and published January 26, 1788 and addresses the concern of balancing the power between federal and state governments.

Federalist No. 47

Federalist No. 47 was written by James Madison and addresses concerns that the proposed constitution did not provide enough separation of powers.

Federalist No. 48

From Wikipedia: Federalist No. 48 is an essay by James Madison, building on Federalist No. 47 in which Madison argued for separation of powers; in this one he argues that the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government must not be totally divided.

Federalist No. 51

From Wikipedia: Federalist No. 51 is an essay by James Madison, published on February 6, 1788. No. 51 addresses means by which appropriate checks and balances can be created in government.

Federalist No. 68

Federalist No. 68 was written by Alexander Hamilton and discusses the process of electing the president and vice president.

Federalist No. 70

Federalist No. 70 was written by Alexander Hamilton and examines the question of a plural executive, arguing that having multiple presidents introduces conflict and difference of opinion.

Federalist No. 71

From Wikipedia: Federalist No. 71 is an essay by Alexander Hamilton, titled, "The Duration in Office of the Executive," published on March 18, 1788. It is the fifth in a series of 11 essays discussing the powers and limitations of the executive branch.

Federalist No. 78

From Wikipedia: The essay was published May 28, 1788 and was written to explicate and justify the structure of the judiciary under the proposed Constitution; it is the first of six essays by Hamilton on this issue. In particular, it addresses concerns by the Anti-Federalists over the scope and power of the federal judiciary, which would have comprised unelected, politically insulated judges that would be appointed for life.

Federalist No. 8

From Wikipedia: In this paper, Hamilton argues for the utility of the Union to the well-being of Americans, specifically addressing the negative consequences if the Union were to collapse and conflict arise between the states. It is titled, "Consequences of Hostilities Between the States."

Federalist No. 80

From Wikipedia: Federalist No. 80 is an essay by Alexander Hamilton. Its title is "Powers of the Judiciary," and is the third in a series of six essays discussing the powers and limitations of the judicial branch.

Federalist No. 84

From Wikipedia: Federalist No. 84, titled, "Certain General and Miscellaneous Objections to the Constitution Considered and Answered," was written by Alexander Hamilton and asserted that the Bill of RIghts was not a necessary component of the proposed constitution.

Fisher Ames, Speech at the Massachusetts Ratifying Convention

At the Massachusetts state convention of 1788, Ames's persuasive oratory was influential in obtaining ratification of the federal Constitution.


Franklin's Plan of July 1775

French Constitution of 1791

From Wikipedia; The short-lived French Constitution of 1791 was the first written constitution of France. One of the basic precepts of the revolution was adopting constitutionality and establishing popular sovereignty, following the steps of the U.S.

Governor Berkeley's Response to Bacon's Declaration 1676

Governor Berkeley's response to the allegations against him enumerated in Bacon's Declaration.

Governor Bowdoin's Proclamation, 1786

Governor Bowdoin issued this strongly worded proclamation after hundreds of Regulators prevented the Court of Common Pleas from opening in Northampton on August 29, 1786.

Grant of a Gild to the Tanners of Rouen, 1170

A contract between King Henry II of England and the tanners of Rouen.

Habeas Corpus Act 1679

The Habeas Corpus Act 1679 is an act of the English Parliament defining and strengthening habeas corpus, by which a detainee who has appealed to the judiciary must either be set free or have a charge brought against him.

Hamilton Plan for a National Government

Alexander Hamilton introduced a plan for a national government at the Philadelphia Convention on June 18, 1787. Hamilton's plan consisted of eleven resolutions. It advocated three branches for the national government: the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The Convention adjourned without discussion of his plan.

Hamilton's response to Jefferson's message to Congress, Dec. 17, 1801

Hamilton's response to Jefferson's message to Congress on Dec. 17, 1801 in which he criticizes the requirement of Congressional approval to declare war.

History of the Peloponnesian War

The History of the Peloponnesian War, by Greek historian Thucydides in 431 BCE.

Impeachment Proceedings of Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 after removing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton from office and replacing him with Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas in violation of the Tenure of Office Act, a law that limited the president's ability to remove or appoint cabinet members without Senate approval. Johnson was charged with 11 articles of impeachment but was acquitted in the Senate.

Indenture Contract of Richard Lowther, 1627

An indenture contract promising labor in exchange for transportation, food and drink and 50 acres of land.

Indenture Contract of William Buckland 1755

The agreement between William Buckland and Thomas Mason granting Buckland would work for Mason in Virginia in exchange for transportation, food and drink, washing and lodging, as well as a salary of 20 pounds per year.

International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights 1976

From Wikipedia: The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from March 23, 1976. It commits parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial.

International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1976)

From Wikipedia: The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from January 3, 1976. It commits parties to work toward the granting of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) to individuals, including labor rights and rights to health, education, and an adequate standard of living.

James Madison - Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments

James Madison's thoughts on the separation of church and state.

James Madison Speech to Congress on the Proposed Bill of Rights

Madison's speech proposing a Bill of Rights and the text of the proposed rights.

James Madison's Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787

Madison's day-by-day journals on the proceedings at the Constitutional Convention.

James Madison's Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787

Madison's notes on the debate over properly representing states in the proposed legislature.

James Madison's Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787

Madison's notes on the debate over bicameralism in the proposed legislature.


Jefferson's message to Congress informing them that his authority was limited because of lack of a declaration of war.

Jefferson to Edmund Pendleton 1776

A letter from Thomas Jefferson to Virginia Convention president Edmund Pendleton on August 26, 1776.

Jefferson's Original Draft of the Declaration of Independence

Jefferson's Original Draft of the Declaration of Independence

Jefferson's letter to James Madison on January 30, 1787

Jefferson's letter to James Madison on January 30, 1787, expressing aloofness and justification for the series of protests led by Daniel Shays and a group of 1,200 farmers.

John Locke's Second Treatise of Government (1690)

John Locke's Second Treatise of Government (1690) was widely read by the colonists. Important ideas found in it (as well as in the works of English republican writers) are also to be found in the Declaration of Independence, especially his theories of natural rights and defense of violent revolution after "a long train of abuses" of power by rulers. Two verbatim phrases of Locke's are found in the Declaration.


President Johnson's speech to the full Congress asking for their support to pass a voting rights bill guaranteeing that right to African Americans.


John F. Kennedy's famous speech on church and state given in Texas while he was campaigning for president.

Land Ordinance of 1785

The goal of this ordinance was to raise money by selling land in the western part of the continent and to organize this area politically.

Letter from Birmingham Jail -- Martin Luther King Jr.

From Wikipedia: The Letter from Birmingham Jail or Letter from Birmingham City Jail, is an open letter written on April 16, 1963, by Martin Luther King Jr., written from the city jail in Birmingham, Alabama, where he was confined after being arrested for his part in the Birmingham campaign.

Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes

Leviathan argues that humans without government live in a "state of nature," which is a "state of war" against all. Life in such conditions is "solitary, poore, nasty brutish, and short." Thus in a state of nature, all fear violent death; and violent death is what people fear most. To avoid violent death, they agree to set up a state with strict authority and the power to protect life. People agree to leave this state of nature through "social contract" and to give all power to the Leviathan state, which Hobbes characterized as a "mortal god." Hobbes was accused of atheism for the views he expressed in Leviathan, where Hobbes pilloried various theological ideas. The English Parliament asserted that Leviathan helped cause the plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of 1666. The book was placed on the Index of Forbidden Books by the Catholic Church because it undermined the theory of divine right of kings.

Lincoln's First Inaugural Address

Lincoln delivered his first inaugural address after seven states had seceded, inaugurated their own president and rose their own flag.

Luther Martin's Speech to the Maryland House of Delegates 1789

Martin's argument that it is against the Articles of Confederation to create a new government.

Luther Martin: Address No. 4

Martin's letter to the citizens of Maryland warning of entrusting too much power to the government.

Luther Martin: Genuine Information No. 12 (1788)

Martin's extensive criticism of the Philadelphia Convention, its methods and its work.

Madison's Letter to Washington, April 16, 1787

James Madison's thoughts on federal versus consolidated government, relative voting power of states, national supremacy and the executive.

Magna Carta

From Wikipedia: Magna Carta, is an English legal charter, originally issued in 1215. Magna Carta required King John to proclaim certain rights, respect certain legal procedures, and accept that his will could be restricted by the law.

Map of U.S. Courts of Appeals, or circuit courts

A map showing the geographical jurisdiction of all twelve of the United States courts of appeals, or circuit courts.

Marshall Plan, 1947

The Marshall Plan, officially the European Recovery Program, was the U.S. policy of granting large amounts of aid to western European countries following World War II.

Maryland Toleration Act, 1649

The Maryland Toleration Act, passed by the assembly of the Maryland colony, mandated tolerance for Christians who did not practice Anglican Christianity.

Massachusetts Body of Liberties, 1641

From Wikipedia: The Massachusetts Body of Liberties was the first legal code to be established by European colonists in New England.

Massachusetts Government Act, 1774

This act of British Parliament abolished the Massachusetts charter and brought the colony's government under British control.

Mayflower Compact, November 11, 1620

The Mayflower Compact was the first governing document of the Plymouth Colony.

Miranda Warning

From Wikipedia: A Miranda warning is a warning given by police in the U.S. to criminal suspects in police custody, or in a custodial situation, before they are interrogated.

Mississippi Black Codes of 1865

The Mississippi Black Code is one of many Black Codes adopted at state and local levels in southern states to limit the newly acquired rights of African Americans.

Monroe Doctrine, 1823

From Wikipedia: The Monroe Doctrine was a U.S. policy introduced on December 2, 1823, which said that further efforts by European governments to colonize land or interfere with states in the Americas would be viewed by the United States as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention. In return, the United States would not interfere with existing European colonies nor in the internal concerns of European countries.

Montesquieu--The Spirit of Laws, 1748

In this political treatise Montesquieu advocates the idea that political and legal institutions ought to reflect the social and geographical character of each particular community, that governments need not be permanent.

New Jersey Plan (1787)

The New Jersey Plan was presented by William Paterson of New Jersey to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on June 15, 1787. It called for a one-house national legislature, in which each state would have equal representation. This arrangement would favor small states. The New Jersey Plan followed the framework of the Articles of Confederation and favored a weak national government.

Nixon's statement about Congressional action on the Philadelphia Plan, 1969

President Nixon's statement commending Congress on its action to allow the continuation of the Philadelphia Plan.

Notes of Ancient and Modern Confederacies

One of the documents James Madison wrote in preparation for the Constitutional Convention.

Ohio Constitution of 1803

From Wikipedia: The Ohio Constitution is the basic governing document of the State of Ohio, which in 1803 became the 17th state to join the United States.

Olive Branch Petition

A document attempting to reconcile with King George III, stating that the colonists were merely seeking to regulate taxes and trade with Great Britain.

Oregon Death with Dignity Act 1994

Oregon enacted in 1994 the Death with Dignity Act, which allows terminally-ill citizens of that state to end their lives by requesting a lethal dose of medication from their doctor.

Patient's Bill of Rights

From Wikipedia: A patient's bill of rights is a statement of the rights to which patients are entitled as recipients of medical care.

Patrick Henry

Patrick Henry's warning to the Virginia ratifying committee against voting in favor of the proposed constitution.

Pericles' Funeral Oration

Pericles' speech given at the annual public funeral for fallen soldiers, as told in Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, which extols the virtues and accomplishments of Athens.

Petition for a Charter of New England, March 3, 1619

A petition by the Northern Company of Adventurers to create a new settlement and local government in the area they designate as New England.

Petition of Right

From Wikipedia: The Petition of Right is a major English constitutional document, which sets out specific liberties of the subject that the king is prohibited from infringing.

Plato--"Ring of Gyges"

Story contained within Plato's Republic, which examines morality as a social construct.

Proposed Articles of Impeachment Against Richard Nixon

After the 1972-1973 Watergate scandal, articles of impeachment were drafted in 1974 against President Nixon. He resigned before the articles were enacted.

Quartering Act of 1765

This act, passed by the British Parliament, required colonies to house and provide food for British soldiers.

Quartering Act of 1774

This act amended the Quartering Act of 1765 and was part of the group of acts of Parliament known as the Intolerable Acts.

Quebec Act

The act enlarged the boundaries of the Province of Quebec and instituted reforms generally favorable to the French Catholic inhabitants of the region, although denying them an elected legislative assembly.

Ratification of the Constitution by the state of North Carolina

The North Carolina Convention met from July 21 through August 4, 1788, but after debate agreed only to neither ratify or reject the Constitution, but did adopt a resolution containing a Declaration of Rights and a list of proposed Amendments to the Constitution on August 2, 1788. After the Constitution had been ratified by a sufficient number of states, the members of the convention reconvened and, apparently without further debate, ratified the Constitution November 21, 1789, and announced the linked declaration, which includes the resolution of August 2, 1788.

Redesigned Naturalization Test Questions

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Cervices (USCIS) redesigned its naturalization test in 2008, concentrating on wider civic concepts rather than facts. Applicants must correctly answer six of ten questions drawn from a pool of 100.

Royal Proclamation of 1763

From Wikipedia: The purpose of the proclamation was to organize Great Britain's new North American empire after the French and Indian War and to stabilize relations with the Native Americans through regulation of trade, settlement, and land purchases on the western frontier.

South Carolina Declaration of Causes (1852)

South Carolina Declaration of Causes (1852).

Stamp Act of 1765

From Wikipedia: The Stamp Act of 1765 was a tax imposed by the British Parliament on the American colonists requiring that many printed materials in the colonies carry a tax stamp in order to help pay for troops stationed in North America following the Seven Years' War.

State Constitution

A link to each states' Constitution.

The Administration of Justice Act

This act of Parliament allowed the trials of royal officials to be moved to other colonies or back to Britain if it was thought that the official could not receive a fair trial in the original jurisdiction.

The Charter for Rhode Island and Providence Plantations July 15, 1663

Notice from King Charles II, establishing the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in New England.

The Combination of the Inhabitants Upon the Piscataqua River for Government, 1641

A letter to King Charles I, seeking permission to create a local government along the Piscataqua River.

The Constitution of Massachusetts 1780

The Massachusetts Constitution provided the framework followed by the United States Constitution.

The constitution of the Pennsylvania Society, for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, and the Relief of Free Negroes, Unlawfully Held in Bondage

The guiding document of what is now commonly called the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, the first such society in the nation's history.

The Constitution of the United States of America (1787)

The Constitution is the supreme law of the United States that provides the framework for the government. The Constitution outlines the nation's institutions of government and the most important rights of the people. The document was created in 1787 during the Philadelphia Convention. The government created by the Constitution took effect on March 4, 1789.

The Declaration of Sentiments, Seneca Falls Conference 1848

From Wikipedia: The Declaration of Sentiments, is a women's rights document authored by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, and demanded equal rights for women, including the right to vote.

The First Charter of Virginia, 1606

From Wikipedia: Document in which King James I of England grants land rights to the Virginia Company for the stated purpose of spreading Christianity in the New World.

The Fundamental Constitutions for the Province of East New Jersey in America, 1683

An early constitution, creating a governing council and providing a limited enumeration of rights.

The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina 1669

From Wikipedia: Constitution adopted in 1669 for the area between Virginia and Georgia, written largely by John Locke. This document was very unpopular and mostly abandoned by 1700.

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, 1639

The Fundamental Orders describe the government to be established by the Connecticut Colony as a self-governed entity.

The Habeas Corpus Act of 1641

From Wikipedia: Ac Act of the Parliament of England that was passed by the Long Parliament shortly after the impeachment and execution of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford in 1641 and before the English Civil War. The writ was amended by the Habeas Corpus Act 1679.

The Meriam Report (1928)

The Meriam Report was a survey of conditions on Indian reservations in 23 states. Titled The Problem of Indian Administration, the report was called the most important treatise on Indian affairs since Helen Hunt Jackson's Century of Dishonor (1881).

The Statistical Abstract of the United States

The Statistical Abstract of the United States is an annual publication of the U.S. Census Bureau, describing social and economic aspects of the United States.

The Text of Pinckney

The Text of Pinckney's Plan

The Truman Doctrine

From Wikipedia: The Truman Doctrine is a set of principles of U.S. inland policy created on March 12, 1947 by President Truman. In his speech to Congress, Truman declared that the United States, as "leader of the free world," must support democracy worldwide and fight against communism.

The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 1969

The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties standardizes conventional understandings of the making and enforcement of treaties between nations.

The Virginia Plan (1787)

The Virginia Plan was presented by Virginia delegate Edmund Randolph to the Philadelphia Convention on May 29, 1787. It provided for a national government composed of three branches. It proposed a Congress of two houses, both of which would be based on proportional representation. The Virginia Plan favored a strong national government.at the Philadelphia Convention that provided for a national government composed of three branches. It proposed a Congress of two houses, both of which would be based on proportional representation. The Virginia Plan favored a strong national government.

Thomas Hobbes--Leviathan, 1651

In Leviathan, Hobbes set out his doctrine of the foundation of states and legitimate governments--based on social contract theories.

Thomas Paine--Common Sense, 1776

Common Sense is a pamphlet, written anonymously by Thomas Paine, giving arguments for American independence from Britain.

Three-fifths Compromise

The Three-fifths Clause of Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution.

Tocqueville--Democracy in America, 1835, 1840

A review of American representational government in the 1830s, focusing on the reasons for success in America versus attempts and failures in other places.

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

From Wikipedia: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is the treaty that ended the Mexican-American war. The treaty provided for the Mexican Cession in which Mexico gave up 1.36 million square kilometers of its pre-war territory to the U.S.

Treaty of Paris

From Wikipedia: The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ratified by the Congress of the Confederation on January 14, 1784 and by the King of Great Britain on April 9, 1784, formally ended the American Revolutionary War.

Treaty of Paris (1783)

The Treaty of Paris is an agreement signed on September 3, 1783, between Great Britain and the United States that ended the Revolutionary War. With the treaty, Great Britain recognized the independence of the United States. Also called the Peace of Paris.

United States Bill of Rights

From Wikipedia: In the United States, the Bill of Rights is the name by which the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution are known. They were introduced by James Madison to the First United States Congress in 1789 as a series of articles, and came into effect on December 15, 1791, when they had been ratified by three quarters of the states.

United States Constitution

The supreme law of the United States that provides the framework for the government. The Constitution outlines the nation's institutions of government and the most important rights of the people. The document was created in 1787 during the Philadelphia Convention. The government created by the Constitution took effect on March 4, 1789.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

From Wikipedia: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The Declaration arose directly from the experience of World War II and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are respectfully entitled.

Vices of the Political System of the United States—James Madison, 1787

Madison's working paper outlining an agenda for the Constitutional Convention.

Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom

From Wikipedia: The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was written in 1779 by Thomas Jefferson to place a separation between church and state. In 1786, the Virginia General Assembly enacted the statute into the state's law.

Virginia Declaration of Rights

Virginia Declaration of Rights

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