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Articles of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights

Page history last edited by Robert W. Maloy 4 years, 6 months ago

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States, Howard Chandler Christy (1939)  

Image from the Architect of the Capitol



Topics on the Page


The Articles of the Constitution


The Bill of Rights


Amendments to the Constitution


Many people think that the Constitution was adopted July 4th, 1776. However, that was the date the Declaration of Independence was signed.


  • Before the Constitution, the United States used the Articles of Confederation as the law of the land.


  • When it became clear that the Articles were failing, a convention was called in Philadelphia to design a new system for the United States.


  • The Constitution of the United States was officially adopted and ratified on March 4, 1789.


  • The most important function of the Constitution was to set up how the government would be run. This meant developing a system of separation of powers and checks and balances.


Preamble to the Constitution

Click here to see SchoolHouse Rock video called Constitution Preamble




The Articles of the Constitution



Article I:  Legislative Branch, from National Constitution Center


Article II:  Executive Branch


Article III:  Judicial Branch


Article IV:  States, Citizenship, New States


Article V:  Amendments


Article VI:  Debts, Supremacy, Oaths, Religious Tests


Article VII:  Ratification


Overview of The Articles of the Constitution from Scholastic



Link to Captain Kirk's Constitution Speech from Star Trek episode, The Omega Glory (1968)




Japan's Postwar Constitution, Constitutional Rights Foundation





Link to page on The Bill of Rights


Bill of Rights Car.  Image on Wikimedia Commons by fusion-of-horizons



Topics on the Bill of Rights Page


Summary of the Bill of Rights

Passage of the Bill of Rights

  • Franklin Roosevelt's Economic Bill of Rights (1944)
    • Patients Bill of Rights (adopted 1995) 


The influence of the British concept of limited government

  • English Bill of Rights


The particular ways in which the Bill of Rights protects basic freedoms, restricts government power, and ensures rights to persons accused of crimes.

  • LGBTQ Rights in the United States
  • LGBTQ Rights Around the World
  • Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage
  • Debates over the Amendments



Amendments to the Constitution


The Constitution has only been amended 17 times since the Bill of Rights, and one of those amendments (the 21st) was done just to repeal another (the 18th, known as Prohibition).

  • Five amendments have dealt with presidential succession, elections or terms in office.


  • A flurry of amendments after the Civil War abolished slavery, guaranteed equal protection under the law and banned racial discrimination. A successor amendment in the 1960s banned the poll tax, often used to keep African-Americans from voting in states that once had slavery.


    • Amendments have granted women the right to vote (19th), lowered the voting age to 18 from 21 (26th), imposed the income tax (16th) and provided for the direct election of senators by the voters rather than by state legislatures (17th).


      • 27th Amendment, most recently added, dealt with Congressional pay raises



Right to Literacy and Education


Is There a Constitutional Right to Literacy Education?


  • While the US Constitution does not clearly establish a right to education, state constitutions frequently do.



Students Argue Literacy Is a Right in a Lawsuit, NPR (July 26, 2018)


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