Declaration of Independence
by Thomas Jefferson
Hypertext Meanings and Commentaries
from the Encyclopedia of the Self
by Mark Zimmerman

The Declaration of Independence of The United States of America  
  
  
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for  
one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected  
them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the earth,  
the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and  
of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions  
of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which  
impel them to the separation.
  
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,  
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,  
that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,  
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,  
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends,  
it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute  
new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing  
its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect  
their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments  
long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;  
and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed  
to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing  
the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and  
usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce  
them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw  
off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now  
the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated  
injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment  
of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts  
be submitted to a candid world.
  
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary  
for the public good.
  
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate  
and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation  
till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended,  
he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of  
large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish  
the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right  
inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
  
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual,  
uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their  
Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them  
into compliance with his measures.
  
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing  
with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
  
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions,  
to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers,  
incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large  
for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed  
to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
  
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States;  
for that purpose obstructing the Laws of Naturalization of Foreigners;  
refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither,  
and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
  
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent  
to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
  
He has made judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure  
of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of  
Officers to harass our People, and eat out their substance.
  
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies  
without the Consent of our legislatures.
  
He has affected to render the Military independent of  
and superior to the Civil Power.
  
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction  
foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws;  
giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended legislation:
  
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
  
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders  
which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
  
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
  
For imposing taxes on us without our Consent:
  
For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
  
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
  
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring  
Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government,  
and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once  
an example and fit instrument for introducing the same  
absolute rule into these Colonies:
  
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws,  
and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
  
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves  
invested with Power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
  
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection  
and waging War against us.
  
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns,  
and destroyed the lives of our people.
  
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries  
to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun  
with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the  
most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the Head of a civilized nation.
  
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas  
to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of  
their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
  
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has  
endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers,  
the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare,  
is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
  
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress  
in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered  
only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked  
by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler  
of a free People.
  
Nor have We been wanting in attention to our British brethren.
We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their  
legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.
We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and  
settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice  
and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our  
common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably  
interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been  
deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore,  
acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them,  
as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
  
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America,  
in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of  
the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name,  
and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies,  
solemnly publish and declare, 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;  
and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to  
levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce,  
and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may  
of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm  
reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge  
to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

          The End

The United States Bill of Rights.
  
The Ten Original Amendments to the Constitution of the United States  
Passed by Congress September 25, 1789  
Ratified December 15, 1791  
  
  
  
I  
  
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,  
or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,  
or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,  
and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
  
  
II  
  
A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,  
the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
  
  
III  
No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house,  
without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war,  
but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
  
  
IV  
  
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers,  
and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,  
and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath  
or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched,  
and the persons or things to be seized.
  
  
V  
  
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime,  
unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising  
in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service  
in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for  
the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb;  
nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,  
nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;  
nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.
  
  
VI  
  
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a  
speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district  
wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have  
been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature  
and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him;  
to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor,  
and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
  
  
VII  
  
In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed  
twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved,  
and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any court  
of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
  
  
VIII  
  
Excessive bail shall not be required nor excessive fines imposed,  
nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
  
  
IX  
  
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights,  
shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
   
X  
  
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution,  
nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively,  
or to the people.

          The End

JFK's Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961, 12:11 EST  
  
  
We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom. . .
symbolizing an end as well as a beginning. . .signifying renewal  
as well as change for I have sworn before you and Almighty God  
the same solemn oath our forbears prescribed nearly a century  
and three-quarters ago.
  
The world is very different now, for man holds in his mortal hands  
the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.
And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forbears fought  
are still at issue around the globe. . .the belief that the rights of man  
come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.
We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution.
  
Let the word go forth from this time and place. . .to friend and foe alike. . .
that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans. . .
born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace,  
proud of our ancient heritage. . .and unwilling to witness or permit the slow  
undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed,  
and to which we are committed today. . .at home and around the world.
  
Let every nation know. . .whether it wishes us well or ill. . .
that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship,  
support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and  
the success of liberty. This much we pledge. . .and more.
  
To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share:
we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United. . .there is  
little we cannot do in a host of co-operative ventures.
Divided. . .there is little we can do. . .for we dare not meet  
a powerful challenge, at odds, and split asunder.
To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free:
we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not  
have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny.
We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view.
But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their  
own freedom. . .and to remember that. . .in the past. . .those who  
foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.
To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe  
struggling to break the bonds of mass misery: we pledge our best  
efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period  
is required. . .not because the Communists may be doing it,  
not because we seek their votes, but because it is right.
If a free society cannot help the many who are poor,  
it cannot save the few who are rich.
  
To our sister republics south of our border: we offer a special pledge. . .
to convert our good words into good deeds. . .in a new alliance for progress  
. . .to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of  
poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of  
hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them  
to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. . .and let  
every other power know that this hemisphere intends to remain the master  
of its own house.
  
To that world assembly of sovereign states: the United Nations. . .
our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war  
have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge  
of support. . .to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for  
invective. . .to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak. . .
and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.
  
Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversaries,  
we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew  
the quest for peace; before the dark powers of destruction unleashed  
by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.
We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient  
beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.
But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from  
our present course. . .both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons,  
both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing  
to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of Mankind's  
final war.
  
So let us begin anew. . .remembering on both sides that civility  
is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof.
Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.
Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring  
those problems which divide us. Let both sides, for the first time,  
formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and  
control of arms. . .and bring the absolute power to destroy  
other nations under the absolute control of all nations.
Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead  
of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the  
deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage  
the arts and commerce. Let both sides unite to heed in all corners  
of the earth the command of Isaiah. . .to "undo the heavy burdens. . .
let the oppressed go free."  
  
And if a beachhead of co-operation may push back the jungle of suspicion. . .
let both sides join in creating not a new balance of power. . .
but a new world of law. . .where the strong are just. . .
and the weak secure. . .and the peace preserved. . . .
  
All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days.
Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days. . .
nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps  
in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.
  
In your hands, my fellow citizens. . .more than mine. . .will rest the  
final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded,  
each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony  
to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered  
the call to service surround the globe. Now the trumpet summons us again. . .
not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need. . .not as a call to battle. . .
though embattled we are. . .but a call to bear the burden of a long  
twilight struggle. . .year in and year out, rejoicing in hope,  
patient in tribulation. . .a struggle against the common enemies of man:
tyranny. . .poverty. . .disease. . .and war itself. Can we forge against  
these enemies a grand and global alliance. . .North and South. . .
East and West. . .that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind?
Will you join in that historic effort?
  
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted  
the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger; I do not shrink  
from this responsibility. . .I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us  
would exchange places with any other people or any other generation.
The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor  
will light our country and all who serve it. . .and the glow from  
that fire can truly light the world.
  
And so, my fellow Americans. . .ask not what your country can  
do for you. . .ask what you can do for your country. My fellow  
citizens of the world. . .ask not what America will do for you,  
but what together we can do for the Freedom of Man.
  
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world,  
ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice  
which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward,  
with history the final judge of our deeds; let us go forth to lead  
the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that  
here on earth God's work must truly be our own.

          The End

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, given November 19, 1863  
on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, USA  
  
  
Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth  
upon this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty, and  
dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
  
Now we are engaged in a great civil war. . .testing whether  
that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated. . .
can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war.
  
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place  
for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live.
It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
  
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate. . .we cannot consecrate. . .
we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead,  
who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power  
to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember,  
what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.
  
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished  
work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining  
before us. . .that from these honored dead we take increased devotion  
to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. . .
that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . .
that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . .
and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . .
shall not perish from this earth.

          The End

THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 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 1  
  
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 of 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 choose 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 Behavior, 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  
increased 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 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, Dockyards,  
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 the 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 2  
  
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 lie 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 THREE  
  
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 behavior,  
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 FOUR  
  
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 Labor 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 Labor, But shall be delivered up on Claim  
of the Party to whom such Service or Labor 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 FIVE  
  
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 it's  
equal Suffrage in the Senate.
  
ARTICLE SIX  
  
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  
notwithstanding.
  
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 SEVEN  
  
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,  
  
Go. WASHINGTON--  
Presid. and deputy from Virginia  
  
New Hampshire  
  
John Langdon  
Nicholas Gilman  
  
Massachusetts  
  
Nathaniel Gorham  
Rufus King  
  
Connecticut  
  
Wm. Saml. Johnson  
Roger herman  
  
New York  
  
Alexander Hamilton  
  
New Jersey  
  
Wil: Livingston  
David Brearley  
Wm. Paterson  
Jona: Dayton  
  
Pennsylvania  
  
B Franklin  
Thomas Mifflin  
Robt Morris  
Geo. Clymer  
Thos FitzSimons  
Jared Ingersoll  
James Wilson  
Gouv Morris  
  
Delaware  
  
Geo: Read  
Gunning Bedford jun  
John Dickinson  
Richard Bassett  
Jaco: Broom  
  
Maryland  
  
James Mchenry  
Dan of St Thos. Jenifer  
Danl Carroll  
  
Virginia  
  
John Blair--  
James Madison Jr.
  
North Carolina  
  
Wm. Blount  
Rich'd Dobbs Spaight  
Hu Williamson  
  
South Carolina  
  
J. Rutledge  
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney  
Charles Pinckney  
Pierce Butler  
  
Georgia  
  
William Few  
Abr Baldwin  
  
  
Attest:
William Jackson, Secretary  

          The End

Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death  
  
  
Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775.
  
  
No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities,   
of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different  
men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it   
will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do   
opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my   
sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony.
The questing before the House is one of awful moment to this country.
For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of  
freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject  
ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that  
we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility  
which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions  
at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself  
as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty  
toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.
  
Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope.
We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the  
song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part  
of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty?
Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not,  
and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their  
temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost,  
I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.
  
I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of   
experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past.
And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct  
of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with  
which  gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House.
Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received?
Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves  
to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our   
petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and   
darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and   
reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that   
force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves,   
sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to   
which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if   
its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other   
possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of  
the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir,  
she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other.
They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British  
ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them?
Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years.
Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the  
subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain.
Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we  
find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir,  
deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert  
the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated;  
we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have  
implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and  
Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced  
additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded;  
and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne!
In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and  
reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free--  
if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which   
we have been so long contending--if we mean not basely to abandon the noble   
struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged   
ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest  
shall be obtained--we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight!
An appeal to arms  and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!  
  
They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable  
an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week,  
or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British  
guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength but  
irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance  
by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until  
our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make  
a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power.  
The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a   
country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy   
can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone.  
There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will   
raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the  
strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir,  
we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late  
to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery!
Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston!  
The war is inevitable--and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.
  
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace--  
but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps  
from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms!
Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle?
What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear,  
or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?
Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take;  
but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

          The End

The Mayflower Compact  
  
November 11, 1620  [This was November 21, old style calendar]  
  
In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten,  
the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereigne Lord, King James,  
by the Grace of God, of Great Britaine, France, and Ireland,  
King, Defender of the Faith, &c.
  
Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of  
the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country,  
a Voyage to plant the first colony in the Northerne Parts  
of Virginia; doe, by these Presents, solemnly and mutually  
in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and  
combine ourselves together into a civill Body Politick,  
for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance  
of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof do enact,  
constitute, and frame, such just and equall Laws, Ordinances,  
Acts, Constitutions, and Offices, from time to time,  
as shall be thought most meete and convenient for the  
Generall Good of the Colonie; unto which we promise  
all due Submission and Obedience.
  
In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names  
at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Raigne of our  
Sovereigne Lord, King James of England, France, and Ireland,  
the eighteenth, and of Scotland, the fiftie-fourth,  
Anno. Domini, 1620.
  
Mr. John Carver           Mr. Stephen Hopkins  
Mr. William Bradford      Digery Priest  
Mr. Edward Winslow        Thomas Williams  
Mr. William Brewster      Gilbert Winslow  
Isaac Allerton            Edmund Margesson  
Miles Standish            Peter Brown  
John Alden                Richard Bitteridge  
John Turner               George Soule  
Francis Eaton             Edward Tilly  
James Chilton             John Tilly  
John Craxton              Francis Cooke  
John Billington           Thomas Rogers  
Joses Fletcher            Thomas Tinker  
John Goodman              John Ridgate  
Mr. Samuel Fuller         Edward Fuller  
Mr. Christopher Martin    Richard Clark  
Mr. William Mullins       Richard Gardiner  
Mr. William White         Mr. John Allerton  
Mr. Richard Warren        Thomas English  
John Howland              Edward Doten  
Edward Liester  

          The End

Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address  
March 4, 1865  
  
  
  
Fellow countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath  
of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended  
address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat  
in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper.
Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations  
have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great  
contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies  
of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress  
of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known  
to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory  
and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction  
in regard to it is ventured.
  
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts  
were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it--  
all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered  
from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war,  
insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war--  
seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation.
Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather  
than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather  
than let it perish. And the war came.
  
One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed  
generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it.
These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew  
that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen,  
perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the  
insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed  
no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.
  
Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration  
which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause  
of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself  
should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less  
fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray  
to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other.
It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's  
assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces;  
but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both  
could not be answered--that of neither has been answered fully.
  
The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto the world because  
of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe  
to that man by whom the offense cometh."  If we shall suppose  
that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the  
providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued  
through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he  
gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe due  
to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any  
departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a  
living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope--fervently  
do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.
Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by  
the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil  
shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash  
shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said  
three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, "The  
judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."  
  
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in  
the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on  
to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds;  
to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow,  
and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just  
and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.

          The End

Lincoln's First Inaugural Address  
March 4, 1861  
  
  
  
Fellow citizens of the United States: in compliance with a custom as old  
as the government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly  
and to take, in your presence, the oath prescribed by the Constitution  
of the United States, to be taken by the President "before he enters  
on the execution of his office."  
  
I do not consider it necessary, at present, for me to discuss those matters  
of administration about which there is no special anxiety, or excitement.
  
Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States  
that by the accession of a Republican administration their property  
and their peace and personal security are to be endangered.
There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension.
Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while  
existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in  
nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you.
I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that  
"I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with  
the institution of slavery where it exists. I believe I have  
no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."  
Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge  
that I had made this and many similar declarations, and had  
never recanted them. And, more than this, they placed in the  
platform for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me,  
the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:
  
"Resolved: that the maintenance inviolate  
of the rights of the States, and especially  
the right of each State to order and control  
its own domestic institutions according to  
its own judgment exclusively, is essential  
to that balance of power on which the perfection  
and endurance of our political fabric depend,  
and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed  
force of the soil of any State or Territory,  
no matter under what pretext,  
as among the gravest of crimes."  
  
I now reiterate these sentiments; and, in doing so, I only press upon  
the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case  
is susceptible, that the property, peace, and security of no section  
are to be in any wise endangered by the now incoming administration.
I add, too, that all the protection which, consistently with the  
Constitution and the laws, can be given, will be cheerfully given  
to all the States when lawfully demanded, for whatever cause--  
as cheerfully to one section as to another.
  
There is much controversy about the delivering up of fugitives  
from service or labor. The clause I now read is as plainly  
written in the Constitution as any other of its provisions:
  
"No person held to service or labor 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 labor,  
but shall be delivered up on claim of the party  
to whom such service or labor may be due."  
  
It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended by those  
who made it for the reclaiming of what we call fugitive slaves;  
and the intention of the lawgiver is the law. All members  
of Congress swear their support to the whole Constitution--  
to this provision as much as to any other. To the proposition,  
then, that slaves whose cases come within the terms of this clause  
"shall be delivered up", their oaths are unanimous. Now, if they  
would make the effort in good temper, could they not with nearly  
equal unanimity frame and pass a law by means of which to keep good  
that unanimous oath?
  
There is some difference of opinion whether this clause should  
be enforced by national or by State authority; but surely that  
difference is not a very material one. If the slave is to be  
surrendered, it can be of but little consequence to him or to others  
by which authority it is done. And should any one in any case be  
content that his oath shall go unkept on a merely unsubstantial  
controversy as to HOW it shall be kept?
  
Again, in any law upon this subject, ought not all the safeguards of  
liberty known in civilized and humane jurisprudence to be introduced,  
so that a free man be not, in any case, surrendered as a slave?
And might it not be well at the same time to provide by law for the  
enforcement of that clause in the Constitution which guarantees that  
"the citizen of each State shall be entitled to all privileged and  
immunities of citizens in the several States?"  
  
I take the official oath today with no mental reservations,  
and with no purpose to construe the Constitution or laws by  
any hypercritical rules. And while I do not choose now to specify  
particular acts of Congress as proper to be enforced, I do suggest  
that it will be much safer for all, both in official and private stations,  
to conform to and abide by all those acts which stand unrepealed,  
than to violate any of them, trusting to find impunity in having  
them held to be unConstitutional.
  
It is seventy-two years since the first inauguration of a President  
under our national Constitution. During that period fifteen different  
and greatly distinguished citizens have, in succession, administered  
the executive branch of the government. They have conducted it through  
many perils, and generally with great success. Yet, with all this scope  
of precedent, I now enter upon the same task for the brief Constitutional  
term of four years under great and peculiar difficulty. A disruption of  
the Federal Union, heretofore only menaced, is now formidably attempted.
  
I hold that, in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution,  
the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied,  
if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments.
It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision  
in its organic law for its own termination. Continue to execute all  
the express provisions of our National Constitution, and the Union will  
endure forever--it being impossible to destroy it except by some action  
not provided for in the instrument itself.
  
Again, if the United States be not a government proper, but an association  
of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a contract,  
be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it?
One party to a contract may violate it--break it, so to speak;  
but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?
  
Descending from these general principles, we find the proposition  
that in legal contemplation the Union is perpetual confirmed by  
the history of the Union itself. The Union is much older than  
the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of  
Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the  
Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured,  
and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted  
and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation  
in 1778. And, finally, in 1787 one of the declared objects for ordaining  
and establishing the Constitution was "TO FORM A MORE PERFECT UNION."  
  
But if the destruction of the Union by one or by a part only of the States  
be lawfully possible, the Union is LESS perfect than before the Constitution,  
having lost the vital element of perpetuity.
  
It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion  
can lawfully get out of the Union; that Resolves and Ordinances  
to that effect are legally void; and that acts of violence,  
within any State or States, against the authority of the United States,  
are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.
  
I therefore consider that, in view of the Constitution and the laws,  
the Union is unbroken; and to the extent of my ability I shall take care,  
as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the  
laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States.
Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part;  
and I shall perform it so far as practicable, unless my  
rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the  
requisite means, or in some authoritative manner direct the contrary.
I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the  
declared purpose of the Union that it WILL Constitutionally  
defend and maintain itself.
  
In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence; and there  
shall be none, unless it be forced upon the national authority.
The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess  
the property and places belonging to the government, and to collect  
the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects,  
there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people  
anywhere. Where hostility to the United States, in any interior locality,  
shall be so great and universal as to prevent competent resident citizens  
from holding the Federal offices, there will be no attempt to force  
obnoxious strangers among the people for that object. While the strict  
legal right may exist in the government to enforce the exercise of  
these offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritating,  
and so nearly impracticable withal, that I deem it better  
to forego for the time the uses of such offices.
  
The mails, unless repelled, will continue to be furnished in all parts  
of the Union. So far as possible, the people everywhere shall have that  
sense of perfect security which is most favorable to calm thought  
and reflection. The course here indicated will be followed unless current  
events and experience shall show a modification or change to be proper,  
and in every case and exigency my best discretion will be exercised  
according to circumstances actually existing, and with a view and  
a hope of a peaceful solution of the national troubles and the  
restoration of fraternal sympathies and affections.
  
That there are persons in one section or another who seek to destroy  
the Union at all events, and are glad of any pretext to do it, I will  
neither affirm nor deny; but if there be such, I need address no word  
to them. To those, however, who really love the Union may I not speak?
  
Before entering upon so grave a matter as the destruction of our  
national fabric, with all its benefits, its memories, and its hopes,  
would it not be wise to ascertain precisely why we do it?  
Will you hazard so desperate a step while there is any possibility  
that any portion of the ills you fly from have no real existence?
Will you, while the certain ills you fly to are greater than all  
the real ones you fly from--will you risk the commission of so  
fearful a mistake?
  
All profess to be content in the Union if all Constitutional rights  
can be maintained. Is it true, then, that any right, plainly written  
in the Constitution, has been denied? I think not. Happily the human  
mind is so constituted that no party can reach to the audacity of doing this.
Think, if you can, of a single instance in which a plainly written provision  
of the Constitution has ever been denied. If by the mere force of numbers a  
majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written Constitutional right,  
it might, in a moral point of view, justify revolution--certainly would if such  
a right were a vital one. But such is not our case. All the vital rights of  
minorities and of individuals are so plainly assured to them by affirmations  
and negations, guaranties and prohibitions, in the Constitution, that  
controversies never arise concerning them. But no organic law can ever be  
framed with a provision specifically applicable to every question which may  
occur in practical administration. No foresight can anticipate,  
nor any document of reasonable length contain, express provisions  
for all possible questions. Shall fugitives from labor be surrendered  
by national or State authority? The Constitution does not expressly say.
May Congress prohibit slavery in the Territories? The Constitution does not  
expressly say. MUST Congress protect slavery in the Territories?
The Constitution does not expressly say.
  
From questions of this class spring all our constitutional controversies,  
and we divide upon them into majorities and minorities. If the minority  
will not acquiesce, the majority must, or the government must cease.
There is no other alternative; for continuing the government is  
acquiescence on one side or the other.
  
If a minority in such case will secede rather than acquiesce,  
they make a precedent which in turn will divide and ruin them;  
for a minority of their own will secede from them whenever  
a majority refuses to be controlled by such minority.  
For instance, why may not any portion of a new  
confederacy a year or two hence arbitrarily secede again,  
precisely as portions of the present Union now claim to secede from it?
All who cherish disunion sentiments are now being educated to the  
exact temper of doing this.
  
Is there such perfect identity of interests among the States  
to compose a new Union, as to produce harmony only,  
and prevent renewed secession?
  
Plainly, the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy.
A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations,  
and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular  
opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people.
Whoever rejects it does, of necessity, fly to anarchy or to despotism.
Unanimity is impossible; the rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement,  
is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle,  
anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left.
  
I do not forget the position, assumed by some, that Constitutional  
questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court; nor do I deny  
that such decisions must be binding, in any case, upon the parties  
to a suit, as to the object of that suit, while they are also entitled  
to very high respect and consideration in all parallel cases by all other  
departments of the government. And while it is obviously possible that  
such decision may be erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect  
following it, being limited to that particular case, with the chance that  
it may be overruled and never become a precedent for other cases,  
can better be borne than could the evils of a different practice.  
At the same time, the candid citizen must confess that if the policy  
of the government, upon vital questions affecting the whole people,  
is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court,  
the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties  
in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers,  
having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands  
of that eminent tribunal. Nor is there in this view any assault upon  
the court or the judges. It is a duty from which they may not shrink  
to decide cases properly brought before them, and it is no fault of  
theirs if others seek to turn their decisions to political purposes.
  
One section of our country believes slavery is RIGHT, and ought  
to be extended, while the other believes it is WRONG, and ought  
not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute.  
The fugitive-slave clause of the Constitution, and the law for the  
suppression of the foreign slave-trade, are each as well enforced,  
perhaps, as any law can ever be in a community where the moral  
sense of the people imperfectly supports the law itself.
The great body of the people abide by the dry legal obligation  
in both cases, and a few break over in each. This, I think,  
cannot be perfectly cured; and it would be worse in both cases  
AFTER the separation of the sections than BEFORE. The foreign  
slave-trade, now imperfectly suppressed, would be ultimately revived,  
without restriction, in one section, while fugitive slaves,  
now only partially surrendered, would not be surrendered  
at all by the other.
  
Physically speaking, we cannot separate. We cannot remove our  
respective sections from each other, nor build an impassable wall  
between them. A husband and wife may be divorced, and go out of  
the presence and beyond the reach of each other; but the different  
parts of our country cannot do this. They cannot but remain  
face to face, and intercourse, either amicable or hostile,  
must continue between them. Is it possible, then, to make  
that intercourse more advantageous or more satisfactory after  
separation than before? Can aliens make treaties easier than  
friends can make laws? Can treaties be more faithfully enforced  
between aliens than laws can among friends? Suppose you go to war,  
you cannot fight always; and when, after much loss on both sides,  
an no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical old questions  
as to terms of intercourse are again upon you.
  
This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it.
Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise  
their CONSTITUTIONAL right of amending it, or their REVOLUTIONARY right  
to dismember or overthrow it. I cannot be ignorant of the fact  
that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the  
national Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of  
amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people  
over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed  
in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances,  
favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people  
to act upon it. I will venture to add that to me the convention mode  
seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with  
the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take or  
reject propositions originated by others not especially chosen  
for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such as they would  
wish to either accept or refuse. I understand a proposed amendment  
to the Constitution--which amendment, however, I have not seen--has  
passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall  
never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States,  
including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction  
of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular  
amendments so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be  
implied Constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express  
and irrevocable.
  
The chief magistrate derives all his authority from the people,  
and they have conferred none upon him to fix terms for the  
separation of the states. The people themselves can do this  
also if they choose; but the executive, as such, has nothing to  
do with it. His duty is to administer the present government,  
as it came to his hands, and to transmit it, unimpaired by him,  
to his successor.
  
Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice  
of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world?
In our present differences is either party without faith of being  
in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with his eternal  
truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours  
of the South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail,  
by the judgment of this great tribunal, the American people.
  
By the frame of the government under which we live, this same people  
have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief;  
and have, with equal wisdom, provided for the return of that little  
to their own hands at very short intervals. While the people retain  
their virtue and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of  
wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government  
in the short space of four years.
  
My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and WELL upon this  
whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time.
If there be an object to HURRY any of you in hot haste to a step  
which you would never take DELIBERATELY, that object will be  
frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated  
by it. Such of you as are now dissatisfied, still have the  
old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensitive point,  
the laws of your own framing under it; while the new administration  
will have no immediate power, if it would, to change either.
If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied hold the  
right side in the dispute, there still is no single good reason  
for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity,  
and a firm reliance on him who has never yet forsaken this favored land,  
are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty.
  
In YOUR hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in MINE,  
is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail YOU.
You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors.
YOU have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while _I_  
shall have the most solemn one to "preserve, protect, and defend it."  
  
I am loathe to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not  
be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break  
our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from  
every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone  
all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union  
when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

          The End

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