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U.S. Constitution

A Guide to Selected Information

The web version of this guide includes links to web resources.

U.S. Constitution
Constitution of the United States PDF

This online version of the U.S. Constitution is searchable and includes discussion and analysis of each section, including how the wording evolved from its inception to its final form, and how it has been interpreted by the courts since its ratification.

Constitution of the United States of America

This annotated version of the U.S. Constitution is the hardcopy edition of the online searchable database described above.
Y 1.1/3:112-09

Charters of Freedom

This website from NARA includes links to images of our founding documents as well as articles about them.

Constitutional Amendments, 1789 to the Present

Each Amendment is discussed at length, with relevant court cases and historical information included to broaden the readers understanding of constitutional issues.
LEGLREF.KF 4557 .C665 2000

The Complete Bill of Rights: the Drafts, Debates, Sources, and Origins

Organized by Amendment, this book follows each one from its origin to its final version and delivers informative content useful in debating the original meaning and intent of the Bill of Rights.
LEGLREF.KF 4744 .C63 1997

The Writing of the Constitution
Farrand's Records: The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787

This is the most complete record of the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention and is indispensable to students of early American history. Much of it contains the notes kept (and revised) by James Madison, along with the official proceedings.

Journal of the Federal Convention

This journal, kept by James Madison, is an account of the proceedings of the convention of deputies formed to write the U.S. Constitution. It reads like a (somewhat paraphrased) transcript of the convention and offers profound insights into the drafting of the Constitution.
PR 4.2:M 26/v.1-2/WIU

To Form a More Perfect Union: the Work of the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention

This online presentation from the American Memory collection on the Library of Congress website is a good starting point for researching this era.

The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution

This as-yet incomplete multi-volume set, arranged by state, follows the ratification of the Constitution in detail, and includes letters, newspaper articles and commentaries from the time period.
LEGLREF.KF 4502 .D63

The Debates in the Several State Conventions, on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution as Recommended by the General Convention at Philadelphia, in 1787. Together with the Journal of the Federal Convention, Luther Martin's Letter, Yates's Minutes, Congressional Opinions, Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of '98-99 and other Illustrations of the Constitution. Second Edition, with Considerable Additions

Otherwise known as Elliot's Debates, this five volume set includes relevant political history of the Colonies from 1606 and follows the path to independence from the Declaration through to the ratification of the Constitution in the states. 1901 (orig. 1836)
GOVSTORAGE.X.02/Z 2.1:EL 5/vols. 1-5 (ask at 4th floor desk)

The Ratification of the Constitution

This is the "cliff notes" version of the ratification; it is interesting, nonetheless.
GOVPUBS.D114.2:R 18

Our Founding Fathers
America's Founding Fathers: Delegates to the Constitutional Convention

View short biographies of all the delegates.

Education of the Founding Fathers of the Republic; Scholasticism in the Colonial Colleges; a Neglected Chapter in the History of American Education

This book describes the education of many of the authors and signers of the Declaration and the Constitution, and the influence this education had on our founding documents.
Main Books.LA 226 .W3

Essential Works of the Founding Fathers

Writings that brought about the Revolution to writings in support of the Constitution, including Thomas Paine's Common Sense and some of the Federalist Papers.
Main Books.E 173 .K7

The Political Depravity of the Founding Fathers; Studies in the History of the United States

A collection of nine essays, by noted historian John Bach McMaster, concerning early American politics.
Main Books.E 173 .M16 1964

Power, Morals, and the Founding Fathers; Essays in the Interpretation of the American Enlightenment

Focusing on Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, and Madison, this book explores the philosophies and agendas that underscored their contributions in forming our government.
Main Books.E 175.9 .K9 1961

Science and the Founding Fathers: Science in the Political Thought of Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, and Madison

The author explores the extensive scientific education of several of our Founding Fathers and the impact this education had on their political thought.
Main Books.E 302.5 .C62 1995

The Men Who Made the Nation

An intimate look into the lives and deaths of some of our Founders starting in 1781 through the death of Hamilton.
Main Books.E 302.1 .D6

Speeches of the Founding Fathers


John Adams:

Passionate Sage: the Character and Legacy of John Adams. Main Books.E 321 .E45 1993
The Works of John Adams. Main Books.E 302 .A263 (10 vols.)

Aaron Burr:

Memoirs of Aaron Burr,.... Main Books.E 302.6.B9 A34 1836 1970R
Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the Future of America.
Main Books.E 302.6 .H2 F56 1999

Benjamin Franklin:

The Papers of Benjamin Franklin. Main Books.E 302 .F82 1959 (37 vols.)
The Benjamin Franklin Papers. Main Books.E 302 .F83 1962
The Writings of Benjamin Franklin. Main Books.E 302 .F82 S6 (10 vols.)
The New England Courant: A Selection of Certain Issues Containing the Writings of Benjamin Franklin.

Elbridge Gerry:

Elbridge Gerry, Founding Father and Republican Statesman. Main Books.E 302.6 .G37 B54

Alexander Hamilton:

The Works of Alexander Hamilton. Main Books.E 302 .H242 (12 vols.)
The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. Main Books.E 302 .H247 (26 vols.)
Alexander Hamilton and the Founding of the Nation. Main Books.E 302 .H2573
Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the Future of America.
Main Books.E 302.6 .H2 F56 1999

Thomas Jefferson:

In Pursuit of Reason: the Life of Thomas Jefferson. Main Books.E 332 .C95 1987
The Thomas Jefferson Papers. Main Books.E 302 .J4632
The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. Main Books.E 302 .J463 (19 vols.)
Jefferson and the Rights of Man. Main Books.E 332 .M25 v.2
Jefferson and Madison: the Great Collaboration. Main Books.E 332 .K58 1950

James Madison:

James Madison: the Founding Father. E342 .R88 1987
James Madison, a Biography in his own Words. Main Books.E 342 .P4
Jefferson and Madison: the Great Collaboration. Main Books.E 332 .K58 1950

Gouverneur Morris:

Gentleman Revolutionary: Gouverneur Morris--the Rake Who Wrote the Constitution.
Main Books.E 302.6 .M7 B76 2003

Charles Pinckney:

Forgotten Founder: The Life and Times of Charles Pinckney. Main Books.E 302.6 .P54 M38 2004

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney:

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Founding Father. Main Books.E 302.6 .P55 Z3

George Washington:

George Washington; a Biography in his own Words. Main Books.E 312 .W33 1972
The George Washington Papers. Main Books.E 312.72 1964
Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington. Main Books.E 312 .B85 1996
The Papers of George Washington, the Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793-1797.
Main Books.E 312.8 1793-1797

James Wilson:

James Wilson, Founding Father. 1742-1798. Main Books.E 302.6 .W64 S6

Federalism and Early American Politics
The Federalist Papers

These eighty-five papers, written to further the cause of a stronger central government, were written under the pseudonym "Publius" by three of our Founding Fathers in 1787-88 and published originally in New York Newspapers in an attempt to persuade the state of New York to ratify the new Constitution. Today, they offer insight into the thought and intentions of the Framers.

The Age of Federalism: the Early American Republic, 1788-1800

The author covers both sides of various issues present at the founding of the United States, and the problems encountered by the first administrations.
Main Books.E 310 .E45 1995

American Politics in the Early Republic: the New Nation in Crisis

Starting with the inauguration of President Washington, this book explores early American political ideologies and the events that played key roles in forming them.
Main Books.E 310 .S48 1993

The American Founding: Politics, Statesmanship, and the Constitution

Focusing on the political thought of a few of the Founding Fathers, the author looks at the men and the ideas that shaped the Constitution.
Main Books.JK 116 .A43

The Federalists: Realists or Idealogues

In its investigation of the failure of the Federalists, this book aims to classify the early Federalists into two categories and show how their actions brought about the end of their political party.
Main Books.E 310 .B56

Further Reading:
  • The Opposition Press of the Federalist Period. Main books.E 310 .S8
  • The Origins of the American Party System; Three Esssays. Main Books.E 310 .C5
  • The Authority of Publius: a Reading of the Federalist Papers. Main Books.JK 155 .F87 1984
  • The Essential Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers. New Books.KF 4515 .F45 1976
  • The Federalist Papers; Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay. Main Books.JK 154 1961C
  • Federalists Reconsidered. Main Books.E 310 .F43 1998
  • Launching the "Extended Republic:" the Federalist era. Main Books.E 310 .L38 1996
  • The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America, 1788-1828. Main Books.E 310 .C79 1999
  • The Federalist Era, 1789-1801. Main Books.E 310 .M5
  • The Critical Period of American History. Main Books.E 303 .F54
  • The Federalists. Main Books.E 303 .K8
  • Beyond Confederation. Main Books.E 303 .B49 1987
  • The Federalist. Main Books.JK 154 1961b c.2
  • The Essential AntiFederalist. Main Books.JK 155 .E84 1985
  • The Antifederalists. Main Books.JK 116 .M2
  • Federalists in Dissent: Imagery and Ideology in Jeffersonian America. Main Books.JK 116 .K45
  • The Young Republic, 1789-1815. Main Books.E 301 .M5
  • A More Perfect Union: the Making of the United States Constitution. Main Books.KF 4520 .P48 1987
  • Toward a More Perfect Union. Main Books.E 301 .M48
  • The Early National Period. Main Books.E 301 .P87 2004
  • The Cartoon History of the American Revolution. Main Books.OVERSIZE.E 298 .W95
  • Early Years of the Republic: from the End of the Revolution to the First Administration of Washington (1783-1793). Main Books.E 303 .A67
  • The American Revolution of 1800. Main Books.E 310 .S57 1974
  • The American Constitution, For and Against: The Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers. Main Books.KF 4515 .A44 1987
The Constitution and the Supreme Court
  • The First Hundred Years, 1789-1888 LEGLREF.KF 4550 .C87 1985
  • The Second Century, 1888-1986 LEGLREF.KF 4550 .C873 1990
  • Civil Liberties in American History. LEGLREF.KF 4749 .A2 C495 1987
  • Supreme Court Cases on Gender and Sexual Equality, 1787-2001. LEGLREF.KF 4758 .A7 A96 2002
  • Race Relations and the Law in American History. LEGLREF.KF 4757 .A5 R28 1987
  • Constitutional Debates on Freedom of Religion. LEGLREF.KF 4783 .C66 1999
  • Religious Freedom. LEGLREF.KF 4783 .A7 N664 2001
  • Supreme Court Decisions and Women's Rights. LEGLREF.KF 4758 .A7 S87 2001
  • The First Amendment, 1791-1991. LEGLREF.KF 4770 .L4 1991
  • Equal Protection. LEGLREF.KF 4764 .A7 M33 1995
  • Sexual Orientation and the Law. LEGLREF.KF 4754.5 .S492 1990
  • Landmark Supreme Court Cases. LEGLREF.KF 4549 .L58 1999
  • We the Students. LEGLREF.KF 4150 .A7 R37 2000
  • Student's Rights: a Reference Handbook. LEGLREF.KF 4150 .H56 2001
  • The Unfinished Constitution: Philosophy and Constitutional Practice. LEGLREF.KF 4749 .A78 1989
State Constitutions
State Constitutions of the United States

As the title implies, this is an alphabetized compilation of the current constitutions of the states which includes cursory historical information on the constitutions, as well.
LEGLREF.KF 4530 .M33 1998

Illinois Constitution

This online version of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 also contains proposed amendments.

Related Documents and Miscellanea
Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789

This multi-volume set published between 1904 and 1937 chronicles the proceedings of the First and Second Continental Congresses, starting prior to the Declaration of Independence through the Revolutionary War and on to the ratification of the Constitution.
GOVPUBS.LC 4.5:(vols.)

Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789

This twenty-six volume set aims to make available all the documents written by delegates that bear directly upon their work during their years of actual service in the First and Second Continental Congresses. Included along with the correspondence of the delegates are diaries, public papers, essays and other documents.
GOVPUBS.LC 1.34:(vols.)

Declaration of Independence

Read the text or download high-resolution images of the Declaration on the Charters of Freedom website.

Articles of Confederation

Here you can view images of or read America's first Constitution.

The Bill of Rights and the Constitutional Order

This small pamphlet has some interesting background and quotes from our Founding Fathers on the subject.
Y 3.B 47/2:2 C 68/991

The American Constitution: Its Global Heritage

This is a compilation of essays by the staff of the law library of the Library of Congress on the Constitutional Bicentennial which explores the influence of the U.S. Constitution on various foreign constitutions.
GOVPUBS.LC 42.2:C 76/4

United States History, 1600-1987

Produced by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to introduce prospective new Americans to our nation's history.
GOVPUBS.J 21.2:H 62/(levels 1 and 2)

Subject Guides