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H. Con. Res. 539
[By Mr. Rodino]
Passed May 10, 1976
Ninety-fourth Congress of the United States of America
AT THE SECOND SESSION
Begun and held at the City of Washington on Monday, the nineteenth day of January, one thousand nine hundred and seventy-six
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That there is authorized to be printed as a House document the Constitution of the United States, as amended with analytical index and ancillaries regarding proposed amendments, prepared by Representative Peter W. Rodino, Junior, of New Jersey, to be bound with a paperback cover of the style and design used in printing House Document Numbered 93-215 of the Ninety-third Congress, and that two hundred and forty-six thousand additional copies be printed, of which twenty-five thousand shall be for the use of the House Committee on the Judiciary and the balance prorated to the Members of the House of Representatives.
EDMUND L. HENSHAW, Jr.,
FRANCIS R. VALEO,
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, D.C. 20402 - Price $1
Stock Number 052-071-00475-1
By Hon. Peter W. Rodino, Jr., Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives
The Constitution of the United States and the amendments thereto is the fundamental law of this Nation. Throughout American history it has served as the basic instrument for dealing with many contemporary problems and its adaptability to changing social and economic conditions is truly remarkable. The durability of this document is demonstrated not only by its continued existence, but also by the fact that, 187 years later, only 26 amendments to the U.S. Constitution have been ratified.
In view of the increasing complexity of government and recognizing that most Governmental decisions today have a direct impact on the daily lives of every American citizen, it is essential that the American public achieve greater familiarity with the structure of our Government, as established in the Constitution.
Moreover, republication of this House Document, "The Constitution of the United States of America," is timely in that it will enable its readers to develop a greater appreciation and a clearer understanding of the numerous constitutional issues, which have been raised in recent times.
In fact, it is evident that the provisions of the U.S. Constitution are being reviewed, analyzed and discussed more extensively today than during any other previous period in American history.
In addition, Members of Congress daily receive numerous requests for copies of the text of the Constitution of the United States together with the amendments. To help satisfy that need and to promote a better understanding of American basic law, this document setting forth the text of the Constitution with all 26 amendments, together with up-to-date ratification notes, and a brief historical note, has been prepared by the Committee on the Judiciary. It also contains information regarding the five proposed amendments that were adopted by the Congress but have not been ratified by three-fourths of the States, as well as the proposed 27th amendment which is now pending for ratification. This information is not usually available in modern pamphlet editions of the Constitution.
The text of the original provisions affected by the articles of amendment is enclosed by heavy brackets, with footnotes referring to the pertinent amendment. In addition, there is a detailed analytical index of the Constitution and the 26 amendments, with references to articles, sections, and clauses.
It is hoped that this document, which is a revision of House Document 93-215 of the 93d Congress, and which contains a number of improvements in the analytical index, will be useful to the Members of the Congress and to the American public.
The Articles of Confederation, which had been agreed to in the Continental Congress on November 15, 1777, and signed and ratified by the delegates of all the States at various times until finally signed and ratified by the delegates from Maryland on March 1, 1781, were soon recognized to be inadequate and defective for the needs of the new nation. Accordingly, the General Assembly of Virginia, on January 21, 1786, proposed a joint meeting of commissioners from the States to consider how far a uniform system in their commercial regulations may be necessary to their common interest and their permanent harmony, and to recommend a Federal plan relative to that object.
Thereafter, commissioners from five of the States-Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York-met in Annapolis during September 1786 for that purpose. The State of New Jersey, however, had enlarged the object of the appointment of its commissioners, by authorizing them to consider "other important matters." Because of the lack of representation by the other eight States, the commissioners did not consider it advisable to proceed with the business of their mission; but unanimously urged a future convention of the States for such purposes "as the situation of public affairs, may be found to require."
On February 21, 1787, the Continental Congress adopted a resolution calling a convention of delegates from the several States, to be held in Philadelphia on the second Monday in May 1787, "for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures such alterations and provisions therein as shall when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the States render the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of Government and the preservation of the Union."
All the States, with the exception of Rhode Island, designated delegates to attend the convention.
On May 14, 1787, the day fixed for the meeting only a small number of delegates, from five States, assembled in Philadelphia and it was not until May 25 that nine States were represented. The work of that convention culminated in the engrossing of the Constitution on September 17, 1787. It was signed on that day by all the delegates except Mr. Gerry, of Massachusetts, and Messrs. Mason and Randolph, of Virginia, and reported to the Continental Congress.
The Continental Congress, on September 28, 1787, unanimously resolved that the report of the convention "be transmitted to the several legislatures, in order to be submitted to a convention of delegates chosen in each State by the people thereof, in conformity to the resolves of the convention, made and provided in that case.'
On July 2, 1788, when three-fourths of the States had ratified the Constitution, the Continental Congress ordered that the ratifications be referred to a committee to examine and report an act of Congress
for putting the Constitution into operation. Two months later, on September 13, 1788, the Continental Congress adopted a resolution fixing the first Wednesday in January 1789 as the day for appointing electors in the several States that ratified the Constitution; fixing the first Wednesday in February as the date for electing the President; and the first Wednesday in March as the day for commencing proceedings under the Constitution.
The text of the Constitution, as set out in this document, is from the engrossed copy, which is now enshrined in the National Archives.