Constitution 101 Curriculum

Constitution Center

William Jackson

Last Update 6 months ago

Learn the Constitution from the Apollo AI Bot

What is State Sovereignty?

There are Bible Studies. Why not Constitution Studies?

The first module will introduces you to the Constitution’s text and to the skills necessary to engage in constitutional conversations. As you explore the Constitution throughout this course, it’s essential to separate your constitutional views from your political views and, in turn, to think about how the Constitution defines or limits the powers of the government. That is how constitutional lawyers, scholars, and judges read, interpret, and apply the Constitution.

"All Political Power is Inherent in the People"

97th Congress Joint Resolution

Public Law No. 97-21

July 9, 1981

95 STAT. 105

PREAMBLE TO THE CONSTITUTION


Preamble

The famous first 52 words of the Constitution introduce the articles and amendments that follow. "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."


Articles

The seven articles make up the structural constitution, signed on September 17, 1787, and ratified on June 21, 1788.


Article I

Legislative Branch


Article II

Executive Branch


Article III

Judicial Branch


Article IV

States, Citizenship, New States


Article V

Amendment Process


Article VI

Debts, Supremacy, Oaths, Religious Tests


Article VII

Ratification

Amendments

There have been 27 amendments to the Constitution, beginning with the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments, ratified December 15, 1791 and they make up the Bill of Rights document we will learn more about later.


AMENDMENTS


The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. These amendments guarantee essential rights and civil liberties, such as the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, the right to freedom of the press, the right to redress your government for grievances, the right to bear arms, trial by jury, and more, as well as reserving rights to the people and the states. After the Constitutional Convention, the absence of a bill of rights emerged as a central part of the ratification debates. Anti-Federalists, who opposed ratification, pointed to the missing bill of rights as a fatal flaw. Several states ratified the Constitution on the condition that a bill of rights be promptly added.


BILL OF RIGHTS


First Amendment

Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, and Petition


Second Amendment

Right to Bear Arms


Third Amendment

Quartering of Soldiers


Fourth Amendment

Search and Seizure


Fifth Amendment

Grand Jury, Double Jeopardy, Self Incrimination, Due Process, Takings


Sixth Amendment

Right to Speedy Trial by Jury, Witnesses, Counsel


Seventh Amendment

Jury Trial in Civil Lawsuits


Eighth Amendment

Excessive Fines, Cruel and Unusual Punishment


Ninth Amendment

Non-Enumerated Rights Retained by People


10th Amendment

Rights Reserved to States or People

POST BILL OF RIGHTS


11th Amendment

Suits Against States


12th Amendment

Election of President and Vice President

RECONSTRUCTION AMENDMENTS


13th Amendment

Abolition of Slavery


14th Amendment

Citizenship Rights, Equal Protection, Apportionment, Civil War Debt


15th Amendment

Right to Vote Not Denied by Race

POST RECONSTRUCTION AMENDMENTS


16th Amendment

Income Tax


17th Amendment

Popular Election of Senators


18th Amendment

Prohibition of Liquor


19th Amendment

Women’s Right to Vote


20th Amendment

Presidential Term and Succession, Assembly of Congress


21st Amendment

Repeal of Prohibition


22nd Amendment

Two-Term Limit on Presidency


23rd Amendment

Presidential Vote for D.C.


24th Amendment

Abolition of Poll Taxes


25th Amendment

Presidential Disability and Succession


26th Amendment

Right to Vote at Age 18


27th Amendment

Congressional Compensation

The Foundations of Law

Year of the Bible

97th Congress Joint Resolution

Public Law No. 97-280

October 4, 1982

96 STAT. 1211


"Public Law 97-280 Declares The Bible To Be The Word Of God."


101st Congress Joint Resolution

Public Law No. 101-209

December 7, 1989

103 STAT. 1838


"Public Law 101-209 Declares International Year of Bible Reading."


Join or Die

JOIN or DIE


Benjamin Franklin popularized the concept of a political union in his famous "Join, Or Die" cartoon in 1754. A generation later, the concept of unity became a reality. Thomas Jefferson is credited as being the first person to come up with the name, which he used while drafting the Declaration of Independence. In June 1776, Jefferson’s draft version of the Declaration started with the following sentence: “A Declaration of the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress assembled.” The final version of the Declaration starts with the date July 4, 1776 and the following statement: “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America.”


LEE RESOLUTION


On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia, introduced this resolution in the Second Continental Congress proposing independence.


The Lee Resolution is where the "American Experiment" began. Richard Henry Lee of Virginia had used the name “United Colonies” in a June resolution to Congress: "Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved,” Lee wrote. The Lee Resolution was passed by Congress. This was a call for the Declaration of Independence as we know it today. 


So, the 1686 Bill of Rights in England, also called the English Bill of Rights, gave the settlers permission from the king to petition. This allowed for the Lee Resolution to come into existence. Then the Lee Resolution gave us the Declaration of Independence (a petition to the king), and then the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as we know it today.

Transcript

LEE RESOLUTION TRANSCRIPT


Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.


That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.


That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.


Source archives.gov/milestone-documents/lee-resolution


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