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The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of the United States.

It is the foundation and source of the legal authority underlying the existence of the United States of America and the federal government of the United States. It provides the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government to the states to citizens and to all people within the United States. The Constitution defines the three !ranches of the national government" a legislature the !icameral Congress# an executive !ranch led !y the $resident# and a %udicial !ranch headed !y the Supreme Court. The Constitution specifies the powers and duties of each !ranch. The Constitution reserves all unenumerated powers for the respective states and the people there!y esta!lishing the federal system of government. The United States Constitution was adopted on Septem!er &' &'(' !y the Constitutional Convention in $hiladelphia $ennsylvania and ratified !y conventions in each U.S. state in the name of )The $eople). The Constitution has !eenamended twenty*seven times# the first ten amendments are known as the +ill of ,ights.-&.-/. The United States Constitution is the shortest and oldest written constitution still in use !y any nation in the world today.-0. The Constitution has a central place in United States law and political culture.-1. The handwritten original document penned !y 2aco! Shallus is on display at the 3ational Archives and ,ecords Administration in 4ashington 5.C.

The United States 5eclaration of Independence is a statement adopted !y the Continental Congress on 2uly 1 &''6 which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with 7reat +ritain were now independent states and thus no longer a part of the +ritish 8mpire. 4ritten primarily !y Thomas 2efferson the 5eclaration is a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on 2uly / to declare independence from 7reat +ritain more than a year after the out!reak of theAmerican ,evolutionary 4ar. The !irthday of the United States of America9Independence 5ay9is cele!rated on 2uly 1 the day the wording of the 5eclaration was approved !y Congress. After finalizing the text on 2uly 1 Congress issued the 5eclaration of Independence in several forms. It was initially pu!lished as a printed !roadside that was widely distri!uted and read to the pu!lic. The most famous version of the 5eclaration a signed copy that is usually regarded as the 5eclaration of Independence is on display at the 3ational Archives in 4ashington 5.C. Although the wording of the 5eclaration was approved on 2uly 1 the date of its signing has !een disputed. :ost historians have concluded that it was signed nearly a month after its adoption on August / &''6 and not on 2uly 1 as is commonly !elieved. The sources and interpretation of the 5eclaration have !een the su!%ect of much scholarly in;uiry. The 5eclaration %ustified the independence of the United States !y listing colonial grievances against <ing 7eorge III and !y asserting certain natural rights including a right of revolution. =aving served its original purpose in announcing independence the text of the 5eclaration was initially ignored after the American ,evolution. Its stature grew over the years particularly the second sentence a sweeping statement of human rights" 4e hold these truths to !e self*evident that all men are created e;ual that they are endowed !y their Creator with certain unaliena!le ,ights that among these are >ife >i!erty and the pursuit of =appiness. This sentence has !een called )one of the !est*known sentences in the 8nglish language) -/. and )the most potent and conse;uential words in American history). -0. The passage has often !een used to promote the rights of marginalized groups and came to represent for many people a moral standard for which the United States should strive. This view was greatly influenced !y A!raham >incoln who considered the 5eclaration to !e the foundation of his political philosophy -1. and promoted the idea that the 5eclaration is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should !e interpreted.

The +ill of ,ights is the name !y which the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution are known.-&. They were introduced !y 2ames :adison to the ?irst United States Congress in &'(@ as a series of articles and came into effect on 5ecem!er &A &'@& when they had !een ratified !y three*fourths of the States. An agreement to create the +ill of ,ights helped to secure ratification of the Constitution itself. -/. Thomas 2efferson was a supporter of the +ill of ,ights.-0. The +ill of ,ights prohi!its Congress from making any law respecting an esta!lishment of religion or prohi!iting the free exercise thereof guarantees free speech free press free assem!ly and association and the right to petition government for redress for!ids infringement of )...the right of the people to keep and !ear Arms...) and prohi!its the federal government from depriving any person of life li!erty or property without due process of law. In federal criminal cases it re;uires indictment !y a grand %ury for any capital or )infamous crime) guarantees a speedy pu!lic trial with an impartial %ury composed of mem!ers of the state or %udicial district in which the crime occurred and prohi!its dou!le %eopardy. In addition the +ill of ,ights states that )the enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not !e construed to deny or disparage others retained !y the people ) -1. and reserves all powers not specifically granted to the federal government to the people or the States. :ost of these restrictions were later applied to the states !y a series of decisions applying the due process clause of the ?ourteenth Amendment which was ratified in &(6( after the American Civil 4ar.

The ;uestion of including a +ill of ,ights in the !ody of the Constitution was discussed at the $hiladelphia Convention on Septem!er &/ &'('. 7eorge :ason )wished the plan -the Constitution. had !een prefaced with a +ill of ,ights. 8l!ridge 7erry of :assachusetts )concurred in the idea B moved for a Committee to prepare a +ill of ,ights.) :r Sherman argued against a +ill of ,ights stating that the )State 5eclarations of ,ights are not repealed !y this Constitution.) :ason then stated )The >aws of the U. S. are to !e paramount to State +ills of ,ights.) The motion was defeated with &C*3ays &*A!sent and 3o*Deas. -A. :adison proposed the +ill of ,ights while ideological conflict !etween ?ederalists and anti*?ederalists dating from the &'('$hiladelphia Convention threatened the final ratification of the new national Constitution. It largely responded to the ConstitutionEs influential opponents including prominent ?ounding ?athers who argued that the Constitution should not !e ratified !ecause it failed to protect the fundamental principles of human li!erty. The +ill was influenced !y 7eorge :asonEs &''6 Firginia 5eclaration of ,ights the &6(@ 8nglish +ill of ,ights works of the Age of 8nlightenment pertaining to natural rights and earlier 8nglish political documents such as :agna Carta G&/&AH. Two other articles were proposed to the States# only the last ten articles were ratified contemporaneously. They correspond to the ?irst through Tenth Amendments to the Constitution. The proposed first Article dealing with the num!er and apportionment of U.S. ,epresentatives never !ecame part of the Constitution. The second Article limiting the power of Congress to increase the salaries of its mem!ers was ratified two centuries later as the /'th Amendment. Though they are incorporated into :adisonEs document known as the )+ill of ,ights) neither article esta!lishes a right as that term is used today. ?or that reason and also !ecause the term had !een applied to the first ten amendments long !efore the /'th Amendment was ratified the term )+ill of ,ights) in modern U.S. usage means only the ten amendments ratified in &'@&. The +ill of ,ights plays a key role in American law and government and remains a vital sym!ol of the freedoms and culture of the nation. Ine of the first fourteen copies of the +ill of ,ights is on pu!lic display at the 3ational Archives in 4ashington 5.C.

4e the $eople of the United States in Irder to form a more perfect Union esta!lish 2ustice insure domestic Tran;uility provide for the common defence promote the general 4elfare and secure the +lessings of >i!erty to ourselves and our $osterity do ordain and esta!lish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Te 8xecutive !ranch. Article II * The 8xecutive +ranch Note Section & * The $resident Note1 Note2 The executive $ower shall !e vested in a $resident of the United States of America. =e shall hold his Iffice during the Term of four Dears and together with the Fice*$resident chosen for the same Term !e elected as follows" 8ach State shall appoint in such :anner as the >egislature thereof may direct a 3um!er of 8lectors e;ual to the whole 3um!er of Senators and ,epresentatives to which the State may !e entitled in the Congress" !ut no Senator or ,epresentative or $erson holding an Iffice of Trust or $rofit under the United States shall !e appointed an 8lector. (The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not lie an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. nd they shall ma!e a "ist of all the #ersons voted for, and of the N$mber of %otes for each& which "ist they shall si'n and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the (overnment of the )nited States, directed to the #resident of the Senate. The #resident of the Senate shall, in the #resence of the Senate and *o$se of +epresentatives, open all the ,ertificates, and the %otes shall then be co$nted. The #erson havin' the 'reatest N$mber of %otes shall be the #resident, if s$ch N$mber be a -a.ority of the whole N$mber of Electors appointed& and if there be more than one who have s$ch -a.ority, and have an e/$al N$mber of %otes, then the *o$se of +epresentatives shall immediately ch$se by Ballot one of them for #resident& and if no #erson have a -a.ority, then from the five hi'hest on the "ist the said *o$se shall in li!e -anner ch$se the #resident. B$t in ch$sin' the #resident, the %otes shall be ta!en by States, the +epresentation from each State havin' one %ote& a /$or$m for this #$rpose shall consist of a -ember or -embers from two0thirds of the States, and a -a.ority of all the States shall be necessary to a ,hoice. In every ,ase, after the ,hoice of the #resident, the #erson havin' the 'reatest N$mber of %otes of the Electors shall be the %ice #resident. B$t if there sho$ld remain two or more who have e/$al %otes, the Senate shall ch$se from them by Ballot the %ice0#resident.1 GThis clause in parentheses was superseded !y the &/th Amendment.H The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the 8lectors and the 5ay on which they shall give their Fotes# which 5ay shall !e the same throughout the United States.

3o person except a natural !orn Citizen or a Citizen of the United States at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution shall !e eligi!le to the Iffice of $resident# neither shall any $erson !e eligi!le to that Iffice who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty* five Dears and !een fourteen Dears a ,esident within the United States. (In ,ase of the +emoval of the #resident from 2ffice, or of his 3eath, +esi'nation, or Inability to dischar'e the #owers and 3$ties of the said 2ffice, the same shall devolve on the %ice #resident, and the ,on'ress may by "aw provide for the ,ase of +emoval, 3eath, +esi'nation or Inability, both of the #resident and %ice #resident, declarin' what 2fficer shall then act as #resident, and s$ch 2fficer shall act accordin'ly, $ntil the 3isability be removed, or a #resident shall be elected.1 GThis clause in parentheses has !een modified !y the /Cth and /Ath Amendments.H The $resident shall at stated Times receive for his Services a Compensation which shall neither !e increased nor diminished during the $eriod for which he shall have !een elected and he shall not receive within that $eriod any other 8molument from the United States or any of them. +efore he enter on the 8xecution of his Iffice he shall take the following Iath or Affirmation" )I do solemnly swear Gor affirmH that I will faithfully execute the Iffice of $resident of the United States and will to the !est of my A!ility preserve protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.) Section / * Civilian $ower over :ilitary Ca!inet $ardon $ower Appointments The $resident shall !e Commander in Chief of the Army and 3avy of the United States and of the :ilitia of the several States when called into the actual Service of the United States# he may re;uire the Ipinion in writing of the principal Ifficer in each of the executive 5epartments upon any su!%ect relating to the 5uties of their respective Iffices and he shall have $ower to 7rant ,eprieves and $ardons for Iffenses against the United States except in Cases of Impeachment. =e shall have $ower !y and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate to make Treaties provided two thirds of the Senators present concur# and he shall nominate and !y and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate shall appoint Am!assadors other pu!lic :inisters and Consuls 2udges of the supreme Court and all other Ifficers of the United States whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for and which shall !e esta!lished !y >aw" !ut the Congress may !y >aw vest the Appointment of such inferior Ifficers as they think proper in the $resident alone in the Courts of >aw or in the =eads of 5epartments. The $resident shall have $ower to fill up all Facancies that may happen during the ,ecess of the Senate !y granting Commissions which shall expire at the 8nd of their next Session. Section 0 * State of the Union Convening Congress =e shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such :easures as he shall %udge necessary and expedient# he may on extraordinary Iccasions convene !oth =ouses or either of them and in Case of 5isagreement !etween them with ,espect to the Time of Ad%ournment he may ad%ourn them to such Time as he shall think proper# he shall receive Am!assadors and other pu!lic :inisters# he shall take Care that the >aws !e faithfully executed and shall Commission all the Ifficers of the United States. Section 1 * 5is;ualification The $resident Fice $resident and all civil Ifficers of the United States shall !e removed from Iffice on Impeachment for and Conviction of Treason +ri!ery or other high Crimes and :isdemeanors.