Influential Documents of American History and Democracy

  1. Influential Documents of American History and Democracy
  2. Government & Politics

The Declaration of Independence (1776)

As the war between Great Britain and her American colonies, which had begun in April 1775, continued, the prospects for reconciliation faded, and complete independence became the goal of the colonies.

The Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776)

Bills of Rights had been long familiar to both Englishmen and Americans.

The Virginia Act For Establishing Religious Freedom (1786)

At the time of the American Revolution the Church of England was the Established
Church in all the southern colonies under British rule in North America.

The Northwest Ordinance (1787)

The General Principles for American expansion westward on the continent had been laid down in Thomas Jefferson’s Ordinance of April 23, 1784, but…..

The Constitution of the United States (1787)

By the mid-1780s, the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation had become clear to many observers. In their reaction to what they considered…..

The Federalist Papers (1787)

AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and…..

The Bill of Rights (1791)

The Framers of the American Constitution did not include a bill of rights in that document. The reason for this omission was not indifference to fundamental rights, but…..

George Washington: Farewell Address (1796)

George Washington, commander-in-chief of the American armies during the Revolution, and President of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, was unanimously…..

Thomas Jefferson: Inaugural Address (1801)

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Statute of Religious Liberty, the western land ordinances of 1784 and 1785, and a host…..

James Monroe: The Monroe Doctrine (1823)

The Monroe Doctrine, announcing in a broad way the separation of the New World from the Old, was the first distinctively American doctrine in international relations.

Daniel Webster’s Second Reply to Robert Hoyne

In 1830, a great debate took place in the Senate of the U.S. Congress between Daniel
Webster, of Massachusetts, and Robert Hayne, of South Carolina. Hayne maintained that the Union of the States established by…..

Andrew Jackson’s Proclamation Regarding Nullification (1832)

For several years tariffs had been imposed on all imported goods as a “protection” to American manufacturers. This was resented by the State of South Carolina, whose economy rested…..

Alexis de Tocqueville : Democracy in America (1835)

Strangers can often observe with greater clarity that with which we are too familiar, and throughout their history Americans have been fascinated by the comments of foreign travelers.

Ralph Waldo Emerson : Self – Reliance (1841)

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was democracy’s poet and the central figure in the Transcendental movement that invigorated American intellectual life in the mid-nineteenth century.

Abraham Lincoln’s Address


The First Inaugural Address (1861)

The Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

Gettysburg Address (1863)

The Second Inaugural Address (1865)

Introduction To The Court Opinion On The Dredd Scott Case (1857)

Dred Scott’s case holds a unique place in American constitutional history as an example of the Supreme Court trying to impose a judicial solution on a political problem.

Theodore Roosevelt : The Conservation Of Natural Resources (1907)

President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) was an ardent advocate of outdoor life, and of all his policies that of conservation of the nation’s natural resources was…..

Woodrow Wilson’s Address


Woodrow Wilson : First Inaugural Address (1913)

Woodrow Wilson : Mobile Speech (1913)

Woodrow Wilson: Fourteen Points Speech (1918)

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Four Freedoms Speech (1941)

In his January 6, 1941, Message to Congress, President Franklin D. Roosevelt enunciated four “essential human freedoms.” This came to be accepted as the most succinct statement of the principles for…..

The Atlantic Charter (1941)

A few months before the United States entered the Second World War, in dramatic meetings aboard the U.S. cruiser Augusta and the British battleship…..

Harry S. Truman: The Truman Doctrine (1947)

The immediate background of this message to Congress by President Harry S. Truman on March 12, 1947, is stated in the text. The idea that the United States was…..

Dwight D. Eisenhower: Atoms for Peace (1953)

Atomic power misused threatens to end human life; wisely used it hold out hope and promise of a better life for all mankind. On December 8, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower…..

Inaugural Address (1961)

One of the most eloquent of America’s Presidents was the youthful John Fitzgerald Kennedy, whose career came tragically to an end with his assassination in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.

American University Address (1963)

Kennedy’s hope for peace ran like one continuous thread through his speeches. But never was it more stirringly enunciated than in this address at the American University in Washington D. C. on June 10, 1963.

The United States Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

Segregation of white and Negro children in the public schools of a State solely on the basis of race, pursuant to state laws permitting or requiring such segregation, denies to…..

Martin Luther King, Jr.: I Have a Dream Speech (1963)

On August 28, 1963, some 100 years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves, a young man named Martin Luther King climbed…..

Lyndon B. Johnson: Civil Rights Statements (1964)

Shortly after Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson succeeded John F. Kennedy as President, he moved forthrightly to help eradicate a persistent evil in American life: racial discrimination…..

Jimmy Carter: United Nations Address (1977)

Peace, arms control, a greater role for the Third World in the international economic decision-making process and a steadfast dedication to human rights are…..