Historical Documents

The Magna Carta
On June 15, 1215, an assembly of barons confronted a tyrannical King John, demanding that traditional rights be recognized, written down, confirmed with the royal seal, and sent to each of the counties to be read to all freemen. The result was the Magna Carta, and it became an inspiration for the American colonists.

The Signing of the Magna Carta

The Iroquois Constitution
For hundreds of years, a confederation of Iroquois nations existed under a democratic form of government that served as a model for our own.

The Mayflower Compact
Drawn up on board the Mayflower, this document established the first foundation in the New World for written laws.

The Signing of the Mayflower Compact

The Declaration of Independence
With a historical precedent in the Magna Carta, the colonists drafted a document that listed specific grievances against King George III of England as grounds for the dissolution of their ties to British Empire.

The Signing of the Declaration of Independence

The Articles of Confederation
The newly-liberated colonists wanted a formal document that spelled out the importance of unifying the individual states. The result was the Articles of Confederation which served as the first working constitution of the United States of America.

The Constitution of the United States of America
Many of the founders wanted a stronger centralized government while at the same time maintaining the independence of the various states. They cited several weaknesses in the Articles of Confederation, among them being the fact that it did not authorize Congress to raise money by taxation, did not empower Congress to regulate trade among the states, did not give the federal government the sole power to coin money, and required the unanimous approval of all 13 states in order for the document to be amended.

The Signing of the Constitution

The Federalist Papers
These were written under the pen name "Publius" by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay to garner support for the proposed Constitution that was to replace the Articles of Confederation.

The Anti-Federalist Papers
Despite popular support for the new Constitution, many were concerned that it would not provide adequate protection against the tyranny of a strong federal government. The Anti-Federalist Papers were written to express those concerns.

Anti-Federalists Patrick Henry, George Mason, and Richard Henry Lee

The Constitution of the Confederate States of America
When the southern states seceded from the Union, they believed they were fighting to preserve federalism and the constitutional vision of our forefathers. As you can see, almost the entire document was copied word for word from the U.S. Constitution.

The Signing of the Louisiana Ordinance of Secession