The documents featured on this page are perhaps the most famous documents in all of American history. They have helped shape the U.S. government and direct our country since its very birth. Today's government was built on these documents. They are the very essence of The United States of America.
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The Continental Congress believed that they could solve the growing tension with Britain by pleading with King George.
After this failed and the situation worsened, it was time to sever ties with England.
Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull depicts the five men—John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin— who drafted the Declaration presenting their work to the Congress. Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
When the 13 Colonies broke from England, the predominant sentiment was strongly anti-British, especially toward the King. In designing the government system for the fledgling country, Congress had to tread very carefully to avoid anything resembling a monarchy while still retaining enough power for the central government to be functional.
The U.S. Constitution was written to create moral guidelines, open to some translation, while making room for a new country to grow and change as needed without stifling the people. Amendments had to be made as needs arose for the Constitution to be more specific to avoid loopholes.
The King of England and Parliament laid down a law under the Royal Proclamation of 1763 forbidding colonists to cross over the Appalachian mountains or settle the land to their west.