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Guide to Law Online: U.S. Federal

United States Constitution

The Constitution of the United States (1789) is the written charter of government for the United States of America. It currently consists of a Preamble, seven Articles, and 27 Amendments (Amendments 1-10 are known as the Bill of Rights). The authority to amend or change the Constitution is described within the Constitution.

Carol M. Highsmith, photographer. The dimly lit hall at the National Archive where the Charters of Freedom, the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence, are displayed. Washington, D.C. [Between 1980 and 2006]. Carol M. Highsmith Archive. Prints and Photographs Division Library of Congress.

Below, find links to government and non-government websites that provide access to free online legal resources related to the Constitution of the United States.

U.S. Constitution: Text, Commentaries, Judicial Decisions, Influences

The Federalist Papers (1788) and various other historical documents, such as Magna Carta (1215), are sometimes credited with having influenced the content of the Constitution of the United States or its initial Amendments (the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

Below, please find free resources regarding the texts that influenced the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, arranged by country or group of origin:





U.S. Constitution: Constitution Day and Citizenship Day

Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is observed each year on September 17 to commemorate the signing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787, and “recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.”

This commemoration had its origin in 1940, when Congress passed a joint resolution authorizing and requesting the President to issue annually a proclamation setting aside the third Sunday in May for the public recognition of all who had attained the status of American citizenship. The designation for this day was “I Am An American Day.”

In 1952, Congress repealed this joint resolution and passed a new law moving the date to September 17 to commemorate “the formation and signing, on September 17, 1787, of the Constitution of the United States.” The day was still designated as “Citizenship Day” and retained its original purpose of recognizing all those who had attained American citizenship. This law urged civil and educational authorities of states, counties, cities, and towns to make plans for the proper observance of the day and “for the complete instruction of citizens in their responsibilities and opportunities as citizens of the United States and of the State and locality in which they reside.”

In 2004, under Senator Byrd's urging, Congress changed the designation of this day to "Constitution Day and Citizenship Day" and added two new requirements in the commemoration of this day. First, the head of every federal agency is directed to provide each employee with educational and training materials concerning the Constitution on September 17th. Second, each educational institution that receives Federal funds should hold a program for students every September 17th.

U.S. Constitution: Legal Guides