The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription from http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html
Note: The following text is a transcription of the Constitution in
its original form.
Items that are hyperlinked have since been
amended or superseded.
We the People of the United
States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure
domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general
Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do
ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members
chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors
in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most
numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have
attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the
United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State
in which he shall be chosen.
and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be
included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall
be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those
bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three
fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within
three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and
within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law
direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty
Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such
enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse
three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one,
Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware
one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two
Senators from each State, chosen by the
Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of
the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three
Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the
Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the
fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that
one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies
happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any
State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next
Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.
No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to
the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and
who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all
Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or
Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice
shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two
thirds of the Members present.
Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further
than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office
of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall
nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and
Punishment, according to Law.
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for
Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the
Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such
Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year,
and such Meeting shall be on the first
Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.
Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and
Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a
Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may
be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and
under such Penalties as each House may provide.
Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and
from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their
Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House
on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered
on the Journal.
The Senators and Representatives shall receive a
Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the
Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony
and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at
the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the
same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned
in any other Place.
No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for
which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of
the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof
shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office
under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his
Continuance in Office.
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of
Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to
the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not
he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have
originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and
proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House
shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to
the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by
two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes
of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the
Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each
House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within
ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same
shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by
their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.
Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence
of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a
question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United
States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or
being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and
House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in
the Case of a Bill.
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes,
Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence
and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises
shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the
Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service
of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of
the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the
discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever,
over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of
particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the
Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places
purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall
be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for
carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by
this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department
or Officer thereof.
The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the
States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the
Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or
duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each
No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in
Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be
No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce
or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another; nor shall Vessels
bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in
No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in
Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account
of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from
time to time.
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States:
And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without
the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title,
of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or
Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of
Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts;
pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation
of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay
any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely
necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties
and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of
the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the
Revision and Controul of the Congress.
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any
Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any
Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in
War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the
United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four
Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be
elected, as follows:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature
thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators
and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no
Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under
the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of
whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves.
And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of
Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to
the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of
the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and
House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be
counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President,
if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if
there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of
Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one
of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five
highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But
in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation
from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a
Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the
States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the
President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall
be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal
Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of
the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be
eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to
that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and
been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
In Case of the
Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability
to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on
the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal,
Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President,
declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act
accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be
The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his
Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during
the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within
that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall
take the following Oath or Affirmation:–“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I
will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will
to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and
Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called
into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in
writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any
Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have
Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States,
except in Cases of Impeachment.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of
the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present
concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the
Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of
the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose
Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be
established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such
inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts
of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information
of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as
he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions,
convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between
them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time
as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public
Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall
Commission all the Officers of the United States.
The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in
one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to
time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts,
shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times,
receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during
their Continuance in Office.
The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and
Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and
Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;–to all Cases
affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;–to all Cases of
admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;–to Controversies to which the United
States shall be a Party;–to Controversies between two or more States;– between a State
and Citizens of another State,–between Citizens of different
States,–between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of
different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign
States, Citizens or Subjects.
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers
and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall
have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme
Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such
Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment,
shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said
Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the
Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in
levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and
Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two
Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the
public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the
Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records
and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.
A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or
other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall
on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be
delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.
No Person held
to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into
another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged
from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to
whom such Service or Labour may be due.
New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union;
but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other
State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts
of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as
well as of the Congress.
The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all
needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property
belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so
construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this
Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against
Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the
Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem
it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the
Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call
a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to
all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the
Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three
fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by
the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One
thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth
Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without
its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which
shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be
made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the
Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the
Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the
Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial
Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by
Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall
ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the
The Word, “the,” being interlined between the seventh and eighth Lines of the
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Attest William Jackson Secretary
done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the
Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred
and Eighty seven and of the Independance of the United States of America the
Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,
Presidt and deputy from Virginia