Documents on Democracy
Articles of Confederation
On June 11, 1776, the Second Continental Congress appointed three committees in response to the Lee Resolution. One of these committees, created to determine the form of a confederation of the colonies, was composed of one representative from each colony with John Dickinson, a delegate from Delaware, as the principal writer.
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.
Budget of the United States Government
The purpose of the annual Budget documents is to provide the Congress, State and local governments, and the public with a complete description of the President's budget plans for the coming fiscal year. The Budget includes, among other things, budget schedules for each account, new legislative proposals, explanations of work to be performed, and proposed text of appropriation language.
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.
The Congressional Directory is one of the oldest working handbooks in the United States government. While there have been directories of one form or another since the First Congress of the United States convened in 1789, the Congressional Directory for the first session of the 30th Congress (1847) is considered by scholars and historians to be the first official edition because it was the first to be ordered and paid for by the Congress. With the addition of biographical sketches of legislators in 1867, the Congressional Directory attained its modern format.
Federal Digital System (FDsys)
A product of the Government Printing Office (GPO), FDsys is a search and retrieval service that provides bibliographic records of U.S. Government information products. Use it to link to Federal agency online resources or identify materials distributed to Federal Depository Libraries. Coverage begins with January 1994 and new records are added daily.
Statistical Abstract of the United States
The Abstract, published since 1878, is the standard summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States. It is designed to serve as a convenient volume for statistical reference and as a guide to other statistical publications and sources. The later function is served by the introductory text to each section, the source note appearing below each table, and Appendix I, which comprises the Guide to Sources of Statistics, the Guide to State Statistical Abstracts, and the Guide to Foreign Statistical Abstracts.
United States Government Manual
The Manual is published annually as a special edition of the Federal Register (1 CFR 9.1). The new edition of the Manual is available to the Public each year in the late summer. A typical agency description includes: A list of officials heading major operating units; A summary statement of the agency's purpose and role in the Federal Government; A brief history of the agency, including its legislative or executive authority; A description of its programs and activities; Information, addresses, and phone numbers to help users locate; detailed information on consumer activities, contracts and grants, employment, publications, and other matters of public interest.
Code of Federal Regulations
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is a codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the Executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government. The CFR online is a joint project authorized by the publisher, the National Archives and Records Administration's Office of the Federal Register, and the Government Printing Office (GPO) to provide the public with enhanced access to Government information. GPO will continue to make the paper editions of the CFR and Federal Register available through its Superintendent of Documents Sales service.
The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. It is published daily when Congress is in session. Helpful Hints provide instructions for searching the Congressional Record database.
The Federal Register is the official daily publication for Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as Executive Orders and other Presidential Documents. Helpful Hints provide instructions for searching the database. Documents may be retrieved in ASCII "TEXT" format (full text, graphics omitted), Adobe Portable Document Format, "PDF" (full text with graphics), and "SUMMARY" format (abbreviated text).
Public Papers of the President
Select the database(s) to be searched. Enter search terms in the space below. Phrases must be in quotation marks (" "). The operators ADJ (adjacent), AND, OR and NOT can be used, but must be in capital letters. For example: "message to the senate" AND "united nations". Helpful hints for searching this database are available as HTML and PDF files.
The Public and Private Laws database is a collection of laws enacted during the 108th Congress (2003-2004), 107th Congress (2001-2002), 106th Congress (1999-2000), 105th Congress (1997-1998) and 104th Congress (1995-1996) and is prepared and published by the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), National Archives and Records Administration.
United States Code
The United States Code is prepared and published by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel, U.S. House of Representatives. This database contains the general and permanent laws of the United States.
United States Reports
The bound volumes of the United States Reports contain the fourth and final generation of the Court's opinions. See the file entitled "Information About Opinions." However, the materials collected here contain not just opinions, but the full text, from cover through index, of bound volumes 502 et seq., including all of the opinions, orders, and other materials issued for the Court's 1991 Term and subsequent years. Additional volumes will be included here after they are published in print form.
Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents
The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents is published every Monday by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration and contains statements, messages, and other Presidential materials released by the White House during the preceding week.
Contact: Paul Kammerdiner / Email / Phone: 231-591-3037 / Office: FLITE 331
Last update: January 24, 2011