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Government Documents Internet Guide

Documents on Democracy

Documents on DemocracyDeclaration of Independence

Historic

Articles of Confederation
The Articles of Confederation is a document signed by the thirteen original colonies that established the United States of America as a confederation of sovereign states and served as its first constitution.

The Bill of Rights
During the debates on the adoption of the Constitution, its opponents repeatedly charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government. Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolution. They demanded a "bill of rights" that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens.

The Constitution of the United States
The Federal Convention convened in the State House (Independence Hall) in Philadelphia on May 14, 1787, to revise the Articles of Confederation. Because the delegations from only two states were at first present, the members adjourned from day to day until a quorum of seven states was obtained on May 25. Through discussion and debate it became clear by mid-June that, rather than amend the existing Articles, the Convention would draft an entirely new frame of government. All through the summer, in closed sessions, the delegates debated, and redrafted the articles of the new Constitution.

The Declaration of Independence
Although the section of the Lee Resolution dealing with independence was not adopted until July 2, Congress appointed on June 10 a committee of five to draft a statement of independence for the colonies. The committee included Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman, with the actual writing delegated to Jefferson.

The Emancipation Proclamation
Even though sectional conflicts over slavery had been a major cause of the war, ending slavery was not a goal of the war. That changed on September 22, 1862, when President Lincoln issued his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which stated that slaves in those states or parts of states still in rebellion as of January 1, 1863, would be declared free. One hundred days later, with the rebellion unabated, President issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring "that all person held as slaves" within the rebellious areas "are, and henceforward shall be free."

The Federalist Papers
The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison between October 1787 and May 1788. The essays were published anonymously, under the pen name "Publius," primarily in two New York state newspapers of the time: The New York Packet and The Independent Journal.

Journals of the Continental Congress 1774-1789
The First Continental Congress met from September 5 to October 26, 1774. The Second Continental Congress ran from May 10, 1775, to March 2, 1789. The Journals of the Continental Congress are the records of the daily proceedings of the Congress as kept by the office of its secretary, Charles Thomson. This complete edition, published by the Library of Congress from 1904 to 1937, is based on the manuscript Journals and other manuscript records of the Continental Congress in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.

The Papers of George Washington
The collection is organized into eight Series or groupings. Commonplace books, correspondence, and travel journals, document his youth and early adulthood as a Virginia county surveyor and as colonel of the militia during the French and Indian War. Washington's election as delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses and his command of the American army during the Revolutionary war are well documented as well as his two presidential administrations from 1789 through 1797. Because of the wide range of Washington's interests, activities, and correspondents, which include ordinary citizens as well as celebrated figures, his papers are a rich source for almost every aspect of colonial and early American history.

The Papers of Thomas Jefferson
The collection is organized into nine series or groupings, ranging in date from 1606 to 1827. Correspondence, memoranda, notes, and drafts of documents make up two-thirds of the Papers and document Jefferson's activities as a delegate to the second Continental Congress, his drafting of the Declaration of Independence, June-July 1776, his position as governor of Virginia, 1779-81, his return to Congress as a representative, 1783-84, and his appointment as minister plenipotentiary in Europe and then minister to the Court of Louis XVI, succeeding Benjamin Franklin, 1784-89.

Current

Budget of the United States Government
Issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Budget of the United States Government is a collection of documents that contains the budget message of the President, information about the President's budget proposals for a given fiscal year, and other budgetary publications that have been issued throughout the fiscal year. This archive extends back to 1996.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
The online Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance gives you access to a database of all Federal programs available to State and local governments (including the District of Columbia); federally-recognized Indian tribal governments; Territories (and possessions) of the United States; domestic public, quasi-public, and private profit and nonprofit organizations and institutions; specialized groups; and individuals.

Congressional Directory
The Congressional Directory is the official directory of the U.S. Congress. It presents short biographies of each member of the Senate and House, listed by state or district; committee memberships, terms of service, administrative assistants and/or secretaries, and room and telephone numbers for Members of Congress; lists officials of the courts, military establishments, and other Federal departments and agencies, including D.C. government officials, governors of states and territories, foreign diplomats, and members of the press, radio, and television galleries.

United States Government Manual
As the official handbook of the Federal Government, the United States Government Manual provides comprehensive information on the agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. It also includes information on quasi-official agencies; international organizations in which the United States participates; and boards, commissions, and committees. This archive extends back to 1995.

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