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Constitution of the United States


1787


WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, in order to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common
defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty
to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution
for the United States of America.

ARTICLE I

Section 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a
Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House
of Representatives.

Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members
chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the
Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for
Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the
age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United
States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State
in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several
States which may be included within this Union, according to their
respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole
Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of
Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other
Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after
the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every
subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law
direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every
thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative;
and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire
shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and
Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey
four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten,
North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the
Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such
Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other
Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Section 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two
Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six
Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first
Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes.
The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the
Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of
the fourth Year, and the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth
Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if
Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the
Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary
Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then
fill such Vacancies.

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of
thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States and who
shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he
shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the
Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro
tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise
the Office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When
sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the
President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall
preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two
thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to
removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office
of Honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party
convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial,
Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Section 4. The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for
Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the
Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or
alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such
Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by
Law appoint a different Day.

Section 5. Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and
Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall
constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn
from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of
absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House
may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its
Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two
thirds, expel a Member. Each House shall keep a Journal of its
Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such
Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of
the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one
fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the
Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other
Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section 6. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation
for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the
Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason,
Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their
Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to
and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either
House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was
elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the
United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof
shall have been encreased during such time: and no Person holding any
Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during
his Continuance in Office.

Section 7. All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of
Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as
on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the
Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of
the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall
return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have
originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal,
and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds
of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together
with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be
reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall
become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be
determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and
against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House
respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within
ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him,
the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless
the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it
shall not be a Section Law. Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which
the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be
necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to
the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take
Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be
repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives,
according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.
Section 8. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes,
Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common
Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties,
Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several
States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on
the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and
fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and
current Coin of the United States;
To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for
limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their
respective Writings and Discoveries;
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas,
and Offenses against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules
concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use
shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval
Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the
Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and
for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of
the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the
Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia
according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such
District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of
particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of
the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority
over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the
State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts,
Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into
Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this
Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any
Department or Officer thereof.

Section 9. The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the
States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited
by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight,
but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten
dollars for each Person.

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended,
unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may
require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion
to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to
the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound
to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear or pay Duties in
another.

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of
Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of
Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from
time to time.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no
Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without
the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office,
or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
Section 10. No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or
Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit
Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in
Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law
impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or
Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary
for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties
and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the
Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be
subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of
Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any
Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or
engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as
will not admit of delay.

ARTICLE II

Section 1. The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the
United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of
four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same
Term, be elected, as follows:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may
direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and
Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but
no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or
Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot
for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the
same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the
Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they
shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the
Government of the United States, directed to the President of the
Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate
and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes
shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes
shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number
of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such
Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of
Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for
President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest
on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But
in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the
Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this
Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the
States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice.
In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the
greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President.
But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate
shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day
on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same
throughout the United States. No Person except a natural born Citizen,
or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this
Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither
shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained
to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident
within the United States.

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death,
Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said
Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress
may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or
Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what
Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act
accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be
elected.

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a
Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the
Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive
within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of
them.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the
following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I
will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States,
and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the
Constitution of the United States."

Section 2. The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and
Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States,
when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require
the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the
executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their
respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and
Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of
Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by 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 by and with the Advice and Consent of the
Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls,
Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United
States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and
which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the
Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the
President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen
during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall
expire at the End of their next Session.

Section 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information
of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such
Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on
extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in
Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of
Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper;
he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take
Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the
Officers of the United States.

Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the
United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and
Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

ARTICLE III

Section 1. The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in
one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from
time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and
inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and
shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation,
which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.
Section 2. The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and
Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States,
and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;
to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and
Consuls;
to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;
to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;
to Controversies between two or more States;
between a State and Citizens of another State;
between Citizens of different States;
between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of
different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and
foreign States, Citizens or Subjects. In all Cases affecting
Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a
State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original
Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme
Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with
such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall
make.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by
Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes
shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the
Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have
directed.

Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in
levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them
Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the
Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in
open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but
no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture
except during the Life of the Person attainted.

ARTICLE IV

Section 1. Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the
public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And
the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such
Acts, Records, and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.
Section 2. The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all
Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who
shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand
of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered
up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.
No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws
thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or
Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall
be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may
be due.

Section 3. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union;
but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of
any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more
States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of
the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules
and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to
the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so
construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any
particular State.

Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this
Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them
against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the
Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic
Violence.

ARTICLE V

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it
necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the
Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States,
shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case,
shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this
Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the
several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one
or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;
Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One
thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first
and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that
no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage
in the Senate.

ARTICLE VI

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption
of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under
this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made
in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made,
under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of
the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any
Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary
notwith-standing.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of
the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers,
both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by
Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test
shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust
under the United States.

ARTICLE VII

The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient
for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so
ratifying the Same.

Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the
Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven
hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of
America the Twelfth. In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our
Names,

George Washington - President and deputy from Virginia
New Hampshire: John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman
Massachusetts: Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King
Connecticut: William Samuel Johnson, Roger Sherman
New York: Alexander Hamilton
New Jersey: William Livingston, David Brearly, William Paterson, Jonathan
Dayton
Pennsylvania: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Mifflin, Robert Morris, George
Clymer, Thomas FitzSimons, Jared Ingersoll, James Wilson, Gouverneur Morris
Delaware: George Read, Gunning Bedford, Jr., John Dickinson, Richard
Bassett, Jacob Broom
Maryland: James McHenry, Daniel of Saint Thomas Jenifer, Daniel Carroll
Virginia: John Blair, James Madison, Jr.
North Carolina: William Blount, Richard Dobbs Spaight, Hugh Williamson
South Carolina: John Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles
Pinckney, Pierce Butler
Georgia: William Few, Abraham Baldwin
.




 

Promoting the Freedom, Sovereignty, & Independence of America