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American Writers: a journey through history is a permanent archive for educators, researchers and every one interested in the writers featured in the  C‑SPAN series.



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The Declaration of Independence was approved by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, and outlined the reasons why the colonies were seeking independence from Great Britain. The document was written by Thomas Jefferson at the suggestion of the
Declaration of Independence
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other members of the Continental Congress. He wrote the draft in June of 1776, and his fellow committee members made changes in wording and added additional charges against King George III of England. The document listed the "self-evident truths" and "unalienable rights" of Americans that Thomas Jefferson based on the philosophy of John Locke, and it provided the reasons why the colonies are seeking independence.

The Constitution was written in 1787 and ratified by the 13 states in March of 1789. The Constitution served as the fundamental law of the United States and established the foundation for a republican form of government with three separate branches: the judicial, executive and legislative. The Constitution was influenced by the United States' experience under the Articles of Confederation which was the country's first written constitution. Individual states had been granted too many rights, weakening the federal government. The Constitution strengthened the central government while still maintaining individual liberties. The first ten amendments to the constitution are known as the Bill of Rights, and they became part of the Constitution on December 15, 1791. The Bill of Rights guarantees Americans the rights to freedom of speech, assembly and religion, among others.


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National Archives and Records Administration Declaration Page
National Archives and Records Administration Constitution Page
Read an excerpt from The Federalist

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