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Original Source Documents

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constitutionMany of the United States' most important historical documents come from this early time period. They set a precedent, forming the basis for a new "American experiment." Read the original versions of these documents and interpret for yourself their meaning. View what these parchments look like to get a sense of how they would have originally appeared to people living at that time. 

These are the documents that became the foundation for our nation. Take advantage of the opportunity to read and study them first-hand to see what our Founding Fathers wrote.

This collection will continue to add new documents. If you know of others to be included, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Also view our Original Document Database related specifically to Alexander Hamilton.


TeachingAmericanHistory.org Document Library 

Founding Era
General Readings on the Founding Database
Annapolis Convention (September 11-14, 1786)
Shay's Rebellion (1786) 

Archiving Early America - Documents from 18th century America

Declaration of Independence (1776)
Articles of Confederation (November 15, 1777)
U.S. Constitution (1787)
Proclamation of Neutrality (April 22, 1793)
Washington's Proclamation of the Whiskey Rebellion (1794) 
Washington's Farewell Address (1796)

Avalon Project - Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy

Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents
Annual Messages from Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson
The Paris Peace Treaty (1783) and Related Documents
The Virginia Plan for the Constitutional Convention (1787)
Madison's Notes on the Debates in the Federal [Constitutional] Convention (1787)
The Jay Treaty (1794) and Related Documents

University of Oklahoma College of Law - A Chronology of US Historical Documents

The Federalist Papers (1787-1788)
First Inaugural Address by George Washington (April 30, 1789)
First State of Union Address by George Washingtion (January 8, 1790)

The Gilder Lehrman Collections - 60,000 documents from 15th to 20th century America

Collection - American Revolution, 1763-1783
Collection - The New Nation, 1784-1800

Founders' Papers

George Washington Papers - Library of Congress
Adams Family Papers - An Electronic Archive
The Diaries of John Quincy Adams - Online Collection
John Jay Papers - Columbia University Libraries
The Papers of Benjamin Franklin - Digital Edition
The Thomas Jefferson Papers - Library of Congress

Online Collections

From Revolution to Reconstruction: Documents 
The American Colonists' Library - A Treasury of Primary Source Documents 
The American Revolution and its Era - Maps and Charts
A Century of Lawmaking for a New US - US Congressional Documents and Debates 

Other Sources of Online Historical Documents

Constitution.org - Ratification of the Constitution by the State of New York (July 26, 1788)
PBS - The Code Duello: Rules of Dueling


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