U.S. Historical Documents

Milestone Documents

Richard Henry Lee's Resolution calling for Independence (1776)
Declaration of Independence (1776)
The Articles of Confederation (1777)
Treaty of Alliance with France (1778)
Treaty of Paris (1783)
Virginia Plan (1787)
Tracing the broad outlines of what would become the US Constitution
Northwest Ordinance (1787)
Laws on addmitting new states under the articles of confederation
Constitution of the United States (1787)
The Federalist Papers (1787-8)
A critical study of the U.S. Constitution from before it was adopted by the states
see especially no. 10 and no. 51
See also our collection of Anti-Federalist Writings and Additional Federalist Writings.
President George Washington's First Inaugural Speech (1789)
Federal Judiciary Act (1789)
Establishment of the Supreme Court System
Bill of Rights (1791)
President George Washington's Farewell Address (1796)
Alien and Sedition Acts (1798)
Jefferson's Secret Message to Congress Regarding the Lewis & Clark Expedition (1803)
Louisiana Purchase Treaty (1803)
Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Supreme Court ruling that established the role of the court overseeing the executive and legislative branches
Treaty of Ghent (1814)
Treaty ending the War of 1812 with Great Britain
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
Supreme Court ruling that addressed the issue of Federal power and commerce.


The Magna Carta
Landmark document in western history where the King of England cedes a portion of his power to his subjects. A key moment in the infusion of the democratic ideal into modern political theory, this document grants a legislative body the formal right to contest the authority of the monarchy when the power of the throne is abused.
Common Sense
Thomas Paine's Pro-Revolution Pamphlet
Give Me Liberty...
Patrick Henry's Famous Speech
A Little Speech on Liberty
by John Winthrop
A Caveat Against Injustice
by Roger Sherman
Treaty of Tripoli
Authored by Joel Barlow
Signed by John Adams
The True George Washington
by Paul Leicester Ford
First Across the Continent
The story of Lewis and Clark's travels across the country
Lewis and Clark's Journal
Daily Journal entries from Lewis and Clark
Chauncey Judd
The story of a teenage boy kidnapped by tories in revolutionary Connecticut
Lincoln's First Inaugural Address
In his first address, Lincoln tries to sustain the Union
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
by Frederick Douglass
Essays from Black History
Collected Inaugural Addresses of US Presidents
Collected State of the Union Addresses of US Presidents