Skip to main content

Historical documents

Learn about the United States' founding documents, known together as the Charters of Freedom.

The Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, and Bill of Rights established the government’s structure and continue to secure the rights of American citizens.

Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence proclaimed that the American colonies were separating from British rule, and detailed the reasons. On July 4, 1776, Congress voted to accept the Declaration of Independence, marking July 4 as Independence Day. Thomas Jefferson, the principal author, drafted the document in 17 days.

U.S. Constitution

The Constitution of the United States set up the foundation of the U.S. government, including its purpose and structure. The Constitutional Convention adopted the Constitution on September 17, 1787.

Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments (changes) to the U.S. Constitution. It guarantees greater protection for individual freedoms and lists specific limits on government power. The Constitution has 27 amendments in all.

LAST UPDATED: December 6, 2023


Have a question?

Ask a real person any government-related question for free. They will get you the answer or let you know where to find it.