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Know Your Rights: The United States Constitution

Know Your Rights: The United States Constitution

The United States Constitution is the supreme law in the United States of America. It is also the oldest written constitution in the world. The U.S. Constitution creates a federal government and state governments. It grants each of these governments certain powers that are separate from one another, and it details the process these governments must follow to implement them. The Constitution also guarantees certain rights to all citizens of the United States.

In the late 1700s, the country's first government was failing due to financial problems. In February of 1787, Congress convened in Philadelphia to discuss a plan of law for the country. They began drafting the Constitution, which was adopted by the United States in September of the same year. The drafting and acceptance of the Constitution was a significant event in history because it created a national law that all citizens had to respect. It also guaranteed rights and equality to all people.

Today, the Constitution's law is still the highest in the United States. The United States Supreme Court still bases all of its decisions on the laws laid out in this document. In addition, every new law passed in the United States must not contradict any part of the Constitution. If laws already in existence are found to contradict this document, they will be declared unconstitutional.

Events Surrounding the Constitution

Creating the United States Exhibition: This is the website of an exhibition at the Library of Congress that includes an exhibit related to the creation of the Constitution.

Centuries of Citizenship: This online exhibit highlights the key events that led to the development of the Constitution, as well as events that occurred after it was created.

Creating the United States Article: This article discusses the creation and ratification of the Constitution.

Creating the United States Word Search: This is an interactive word search with terms related to the Constitution.

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: This page includes links to some of the most significant documents involved in the development of the Constitution.

Fathers of the Constitution

America's Founding Fathers: This is a site with biographical information for each of the country's Founding Fathers.

Declaration of Independence - The Signer's Gallery: This site contains information and trivia about the people who signed the Declaration of Independence.

The Founder's Constitution: This online book contains in-depth information about the creation of the Constitution and its interpretations in government.

The Thomas Jefferson Papers: This is the website of the Thomas Jefferson Papers collection, which consists of 27,000 historical documents. 

The James Madison Papers: This is the website of the James Madison Papers, which include financial documents, correspondences, personal notes, and an autobiography.

About the Founding Fathers: This page contains biographical information about the Founding Fathers.

The Founding Fathers: This is an index of the Founding Fathers organized by state.

Primary Sources

Constitution of the United States: This page contains an image of the original document, along with a description.

Constitution of the United States: This page includes a transcript of the Constitution, an image, and a description.

The Constitution of the United States of America: This page includes the text of the Constitution in its original spelling.

Interactive Constitution: This site has interactive features that allow the user to search the Constitution by topic and keyword.

A Documentary Record: This site includes links to many of the documents that led to the development of the Constitution.

Creating the Constitution: This interactive site that allows the user to explore the historical documents used to form the Constitution.

Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention: This site includes links to hundreds of historical documents from the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention.

Bill of Rights and Amendments

Creating the Bill of Rights: This interactive site that allows users to explore documents used in the creation of the Bill of Rights. 

Amendments 11-27: This page contains the text from Amendments 11 through 27 of the Constitution.

Bill of Rights: This page contains the text from the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights: This page contains information about the Bill of Rights and links to related historical documents.

Bill of Rights: This page has an interactive image of the Bill of Rights, as well as information about the document.

Thirteenth Amendment: This page includes an interactive image of the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery. It also has information about its creation.

Fourteenth Amendment: This page has information about the 14th Amendment and an interactive image. The 14th Amendment was related to civil rights.

Fifteenth Amendment: This page contains information about the 15th Amendment, which gave voting rights to African Americans.

Platt Amendment: This page provides an explanation and image of the Platt Amendment, which was an agreement made between the United States and Cuba to protect Cuba from foreign interventions.

Sixteenth Amendment: This page explains the 16th Amendment, which imposed federal income tax on United States citizens.

Seventeenth Amendment: This page depicts and explains the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, which mandated the direct election of Senators.

Nineteenth Amendment: This page explains the 19th Amendment, which gave voting rights to women.

Social Security Act Amendments: This page describes and depicts the Social Security Act Amendments, which created Medicare.

Educational Resources

U.S. Constitution Resources for Teachers: This page contains links to multiple resources teachers can use to teach students about the Constitution.

Teaching with Documents - U.S. Constitution Workshop: This is a lesson plan that requires students to analyze constitutional documents and evaluate their significance.

The New Nation: This is an online lesson that teaches the history and relevance of the Constitution.

Constitution Primary Source Set: This page contains images of primary sources related to the Constitution.

Drafting a More Perfect Union: This is a lesson plan in which students must read and analyze different drafts of the Constitution.

Debating the Amendments: This is a lesson plan that requires students to analyze the Bill of Rights and engage in a debate.

Counter Revolution or National Salvation: This is a lesson plan that requires students to reenact the Constitutional debates.

Continuity and Change in the Governing of the United States: This is a lesson plan that requires students to analyze source documents and explore the development of the Bill of Rights and Constitution.

Teaching with Documents - Separation of Powers: This is a lesson that uses source documents to teach students about the Constitution's mandate for Separation of Powers.

James Madison - From Father of the Constitution to President: This is a lesson that teaches students about James Madison's place in history and contributions to the Constitution.

For Kids

James Madison's Contribution to the Constitution: This article explains James Madison's role in developing the Constitution.
The Articles of the Confederation Were Adopted November 15, 1777: This article explains the significance and history of the Articles of Confederation.

The New United States of America Adopted the Bill of Rights: This article describes the Bill of Rights and its implications for U.S. citizens.

Center for Civic Education: This is the website of a nonprofit organization that seeks to teach people about the principles of democracy.

Constitution Facts: This is an interactive quiz about the Constitution.

Which Founder Are You?: This is an interactive quiz that allows students to discover which Founding Father is most like them.

Constitution: This is a lesson plan designed to teach children about the Constitution.

Preamble for Kids: This site teaches children about the preamble, which is the first part of the Constitution.


Lawyer Resources