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Historical Documents

Find historical documents such as the Bill of Rights, Constitution of the United States, Declaration of Independence, and more.


  • Declaration of Independence (1776)  – Drafted by Thomas Jefferson in June 1776, this document is the nation's most cherished symbol of liberty. It set forth a list of grievances against the King of England in order to justify breaking the ties between the colonies and the mother country.
  • Articles of Confederation (1777)  – This document served as the United States' first constitution, and was in force from March 1, 1781, until 1789 when the present day Constitution went into effect.
  • Treaty of Paris (1783)  – This treaty between the American colonies and Great Britain formally recognized the United States as an independent nation.
  • Constitution of the United States (1787)  – This four-page document, signed on September 17, 1787, established the government of the United States.
  • Federalist Papers (1787-1788)  – This series of essays was published in newspapers by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay to promote the ratification of the Constitution.
  • Bill of Rights (1791)  – The First Congress proposed 12 amendements to the Constitution and the 10 that were approved became known as the Bill of Rights.
  • Gettysburg Address (1863)  – President Lincoln gave this speech at the dedication of the cemetery for the Union war dead after the Civil War battle in Gettysburg, PA.
  • Emancipation Proclamation (1863)  – President Lincoln issued the Proclamation announcing that persons held as slaves shall be free.
  • Find More Documents  – Explore 100 milestone documents of American history, find tools for educators, and more.