On September 17, 1787, forty-two of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention held their final meeting. Only one item of business was on the agenda that day, to sign the Constitution of the United States of America.
Constitution Day (September 17th) commemorates that date in 1787 that the Constitutional Convention adjourned from its long months of difficult work at the State House in Philadelphia known as Independence Hall, after having completed the historic task of writing the United States Constitution. In just four hand-written pages, the Constitution gives us the owners' manual to the greatest form of government the world has ever known.
Department of Social Studies
Mr. Robert Kurtz, Director of Humanities
US Constitution Web Sites
Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention (Library of Congress)
The Library of Congress Continental Congress Broadside Collection (256 titles) and the Constitutional Convention Broadside Collection (21 titles) contain 277 documents relating to the work of Congress and the drafting and ratification of the Constitution. Items include extracts of the journals of Congress, resolutions, proclamations, committee reports, treaties, and early printed versions of the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. There are two special presentations: To Form a More Perfect Union and The Work of the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention. There is also a timeline and essay. See also these Library of Congress Web Guides to related primary and secondary sources:
- Declaration of Independence
- U.S. Constitution
- The Bill of Rights
- The Federalist Papers
- Transcription of the Introduction and the U.S. Constitution from the First Volume of the Annals of Congress
- Notes of the Founding Fathers Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789
NARA Exhibit Hall: The Charters of Freedom
The National Archives offers a copy of the U.S. Constitution and biographies of the document's fifty-five framers. The article "A More Perfect Union" is an in-depth look at the Constitutional Convention and the ratification process. "Questions and Answers Pertaining to the Constitution" presents dozens of fascinating facts about the Constitution.
The Avalon Project: The American Constitution - A Documentary Record
The Avalon Project at Yale Law School: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy offers a varied array of primary source documents. The American Constitution - A Documentary Record offers documents on The Roots of the Constitution, Revolution and Independence, Credentials of the Members of the Federal Convention, The Constitutional Convention, and Ratification and Formation of the Government.
National Constitution Center: Education
The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia is a non-partisan and non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of, and appreciation for, the Constitution and its history and contemporary relevance. Its Education section includes biographies of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and full text of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence It also offers offers lesson plans and resource guides and the opportunity to explore the Constitution through online games and interactives.
- Interactive Constitution
This section enables visitors to search the Constitution by keyword, topic, or Supreme Court case.
- Centuries of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline
This interactive timeline highlights key dates and events of the key dates and events from more than 200 years of American constitutional history.
Alexander Hamilton on the Web
On this site you will find biographies, Hamilton's writing - including the complete Federalist Papers, images of Hamilton, reviews and excerpts from some of the recent books about Hamilton, essays on the Hamilton/Burr duel, and more.
The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden
This Smithsonian site explores the history and operation of the American presidency. The exhibit displays more than 375 images of documents, paintings, photographs, buttons, posters, paraphernalia, and objects along with short texts explaining their significance.
ConstitutionFacts.com provides the entire text of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence - and more. Of note are the insights into the men who wrote the Constitution, how it was created, and how the Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution in the two centuries. The interactive quizzes and games are fun. You can test your constitution IQ with an interactive quiz and see how you scored against others in your state and nationally, see which founding father you'd vote for, determine which founding father you're like, and test your knowledge with the "Real or Fake?" interactive quiz.
This website is geared toward teaching the history of the American presidency, primarily to high school students. The Presidency in History contains detailed biographies of each of the 43 past and present Presidents and First Ladies. The site also contains biographies of Cabinet members, staff, and advisers; timelines detailing significant events during each administration; and multimedia galleries to explore. The Presidency in Action delves into the function and responsibilities of the modern presidency. Here you will find detailed descriptions of the areas of presidential responsibility, updated organization charts, staff listings, and biographies of past and present staff and advisers. Brought to you by the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs.
Africans in America; The Terrible Transformation, 1750-1805
Part of PBS's African-American Journey site, here you'll find part one of a rich collection of resources -- images, documents, stories, biographies, commentaries -- on the experience of slavery in America. There is also a useful teacher's guide and activities for students. See Part 2: Revolution: 1750-1805.
Archiving Early America
A worthwhile commercial site for links to historical documents, biographies, and even on-line books on 18th century America. These archival materials are displayed in their original formats so they can be read and examined close-up and in detail. Of special interest is the Maryland Gazette containing George Washington's Journal of his historic trip to the Ohio Valley. It is the only original copy privately held. Materials are free for personal use.
Early America's Digital Archives
The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities has produced a searchable collection of electronic texts written in or about the Americas from 1492 to approximately 1820. The Archive also features a collection of links to early American texts on the Internet. Open to the public for research and teaching purposes.
The American Colonist's Library
A massive collection of the historical works that contributed to the formation of American politics, culture, and ideals. Arranged in chronological sequence (500 B.C.-1800 A.D.). Go to Eighteenth Century Sources Which Profoundly Impacted American History. Very helpful collection of primary sources.
George Washington Resources
This electronic collection of papers by and for George Washington contains a staggering 17,400 letters and documents. Search keyword "Constitution" and you'll find letters Washington wrote to James Madison about the Constitution.
Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture (OIEAHC)
The College of William and Mary and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation founded the Institute of Early American History and Culture in 1943 and still jointly sponsor its work. The Institute's full-time professional and support staff is responsible for a variety of valuable research and publication programs for scholars. Most services are fee-based but Uncommon Sense is a free online journal on early American history. Important site for serious scholars.
The Thomas Jefferson Digital Archive
Though not present at the Constitutional Convention, Jefferson followed the proceedings closely. The Thomas Jefferson Digital Archive provides more than 1,700 texts written by or to Thomas Jefferson. The site also includes a biography of Jefferson and The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia, which organizes more than 9,000 quotes according to theme and other categories.
The Constitution Society
The Constitution Society is a private non-profit organization dedicated to research and public education on the principles of constitutional republican government. It publishes documentation, engages in litigation, and organizes local citizens groups to work for reform. It offers a Liberty Library of Constitutional Classics, a Constitutional Weblog, and a Constitutional Examination.
ConSource.org explores the history of the United States Constitution and its Amendments and provides an indexed online library of constitutional sources, including the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and more. Yet, much is under construction and several key sections have little information or resources.
Biographies of the Founding Fathers
Colonial Hall provides bios of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The sketches of America's founding fathers are taken from the 1829 book, Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence, by the Rev. Charles A. Goodrich.
The Independence Hall Association in Philadelphia has produced this fun and engaging site where you can enjoy a virtual tour of Philadelphia and visit Betsy Ross' House. You can also learn why Pennsylvania is misspelled on the Liberty Bell and the story of the crack. There are several section that deal with the revolutionary war and you can learn about The President's House in Philadelphia, Executive Mansion of the United States from 1790 to 1800 during Philadelphia's tenure as the national capital.
Constitution Primary Set & Teacher's Guide
This Library of Congress teaching set includes 18 primary sources accompanied by historical context, teaching suggestions, links to online resources, graphic organizer, and an analysis tool.
Teacher Lesson Plan: Created Equal?
This Library of Congress lesson focuses on a few key concepts of the Declaration of Independence, beginning with the phrase "All men are created equal." Students gain an appreciation of Thomas Jefferson's efforts to deal with the complex issues of equality and slavery in the Declaration of Independence. Recommended for High school students.
The Constitution: Counter Revolution or National Salvation?
This LOC lesson plan encourages students to make critical observations on the nature of the U.S. Constitution. It is presented by the Library of Congress and includes multiple online resources for students. Intended for grade 11.
Using letters from the Library of Congress collection "George Washington Papers, 1741-1799," three units are designed to allow students to examine Washington's leadership during pivotal events in early American history: the French and Indian War, the Federal Convention, and Washington's presidency. A main goal is to understand both Washington's role in early America and the reasons for his rise to prominence. Featuring pre-selected letters from LOC collections and focus questions to evaluate each document, the lesson promotes careful explication of the meaning and implications of primary sources. Designed for grades 8 to 12.
Debating the Constitution
This WGBH Teachers Domain activity for grades 5 -12 prompts students to explore how delegates to the U.S. Constitutional Convention in 1787 addressed slavery in the Constitution. This multimedia rich activity features video clips and interactive exercises.
C-Span U.S. Constitution Page
C-Span's U.S. Constitution page provides a series of video clips related to constitutional issues. C-SPAN Teacher Fellow Joe Karb demonstrates how to access and use C-SPAN Classroom's Constitution Clips teacher resources. Select offerings:
- Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer explains the workings of the judiciary
- Pauline Maier presents a history of the ratification process of the U.S. Constitution
- Mark Dimunation talks about The Federalist Papers
- A panel discussion about the Bill of Rights, the Constitution
- Chief Justice John Roberts discusses the role of the Constitution in American politics