The Constitution (Annotated)

The Constitution of the United States

[The following text, obtained from the National Archives, began as a transcription of the Constitution in its original form.  Some parts were changed or superseded by Amendments.  All of the original text will be shown here, but I will also show which parts were affected by amendments.  The changed parts will have differently colored and/or strikethrough characters.  Comments will be enclosed in [square brackets].  Also, there will be links provided to posts where you can learn more about that particular section.  If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this or any page relevant to your question.  Read on – and enjoy!  This is truly a wonderful document written with uncanny clarity and – and largely because of its – economy of words.]

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. [Discussed here.]


Article. I.

[Article 1 deals with the branch of government, Congress, which is tasked with legislating (making laws) for the United States.  It defines the two legislative bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate, setting the rules for how many Representatives and Senators are allowed to represent each state.  More importantly, it then goes on to enumerate the powers granted to Congress by the Constitution.  This is important because Congress does not have any authority to legislate on something for which the power is not herein granted.]

Section. 1.

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section. 2.

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.

Representatives 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 preceding, highlighted text was modified by Section 2 of the 14th Amendment.]  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 Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *