The University of Chicago provides thousands of primary source documents concerning the diverse contents of the Constitution. Documents underlying the proposed Constitution, as well as documents of the time debating the proposed Constitution are available and sorted by the major themes of the Constitution. Links to each part of the text of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are also available.
A list of links to texts of original documents written by participants in the Constitutional Conventions, relating to their attempts to create an acceptable national constitution. Organized in chronological order.
Primary source documents (letters) concerning the need for a central government written by Madison, Hamilton, Jay, and others.
The original text of a 1787 article in which James Madison discusses the failures of the Articles of Confederation. An interesting look at the problems with the states and with foreign countries.
The original text of a letter from Alexander Hamilton to Governor George Clinton of New York in 1778 complaining of inadequate material for the U.S. armed forces and perception of weakness by foreign powers.
University of Chicago Press provides a letter from John Jay to Thomas Jefferson in which Jay explains the need to reform the government existing under the Articles of Confederation.
The University of Chicago provides a letter from Richard Henry Lee to George Mason in which Lee describes the financial problems the Confederation has run into and suggests minor reforms be made.
This chapter introduction describes the historical context in which the issue of federalism was discussed by our nation's Founders. Discusses the Federalist and Anti-Federalist points-of-view.
The original text of The Virginia Plan presented at the Constitutional Convention. Discusses federal versus consolidated government.
The original text of a letter from James Madison to George Washington discussing his ideas for a new national government that were to soon be presented to the Constitutional Convention as the Virginia Plan.
With this address, Jefferson marked the first-ever peaceful transfer of power by election in the world. He used this address to calm the fears of the opposition Federalist party.
The original text of a statement by John Tyler, member of the Virginia Constitutional Ratifying Convention, on his opposition to the new Constitution.
This page is a series of writings by Joseph Story on the jurisdiction, both original and appellate, assigned to the Supreme Court by the Founding Fathers. Published in 1833.
This speech, "The Address and Reasons of Dissent of the Minority of the Convention of Pennsylvania to Their Constituents," contains some of the arguments for opposing the Constitution.