Founding Documents — American Historical Documents — Primary Documents
The terms Founding Documents, American Historical Documents,
and Primary Documents, are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing. The Founding Documents
are those documents that shaped, or helped to shape, the United States of America. But, there is no single list (checklist,
check list, bibliography, catalogue, orf catalog) of Founding Documents
and no concensus on where to "Draw the line" with respect to documents that should or should not be called Founding
Documents. Yet, no list (checklist, check list, bibliography, catalogue,
or catalog) of Founding Documents fails to include within it the Declaration of
Independence and the Constitution of the United States.
Checklist, Check List, Bibliography, Catalogue or Catalog of Founding Documents
It is not difficult
to find a list (checklist, check list, bibliography, catalogue, or catalog)
of names or titles of Founding Documents, although no two lists will be the same. It is not difficult to
find a list (checklist, check list, bibliography, catalogue, or catalog)
of titles of works about the Founding Documents. But, it is very difficult, or next to impossible, to find
a list (checklist, check list, bibliiography, catalogue, or catalog)
of titles of works that reprint the founding documents, save one — the Declaration of
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
A Checklist of Books, Pamphlets, and Periodicals, Printing the Declaration of Independence,
1776-1825. A free PDF copy of the checklist can be downloaded from the Home Page. You can read more about the checklist, as well. You can also purchase a hardbound copy of the checklist at a most reasonable price. See the Home Page for additional details and offerings.
Our Most Important Founding Documents
Recognizing the difficulty in defining a single list of Founding
Documents, the U.S. National Archives addressed the issue in a unique way. First, it recognized that there were actually
hundreds of Founding Documents. Second, it recognized that the real issue at hand was not one of determining
the size of the list but one of ranking the documents in order to determine those of greatest importance.
Here is how
the issue was solved. First, a list of 100 documents was assembled covering the period 1776 to 1965. These were called the
100 Milestone Documents rather than Founding Documents. The selected documents reflected America's diversity
and unity, past and future, and mostly the country's commitment as a nation to continue to strive to "form a more perfect
union." The selected documents were among the "thousands of public laws, Supreme Court decisions, inaugural speeches,
treaties, constitutional amendments, and other documents that have influenced the course of U.S. history....The decision not
to include milestone documents since 1965 was a deliberate acknowledgement of the difficulty in examining more recent history.
As stated in the guidelines for the National History Standards, developed by the National Center for History in the Schools,
'Historians can never attain complete objectivity, but they tend to fall shortest of the goal when they deal with current
or very recent events.'" — National Archives www.ourdocuments.gov.
Second, the top 10 Milestone Documents were selected via a People's Vote. "The People's Vote, co-sponsored by
the National Archives and Records Administration, National History Day, and U.S. News & World Report, invited Americans
of all ages and educational backgrounds to vote for 10 of 100 milestone documents drawn mainly from the holdings of the National
Archives." — National Archives www.ourdocuments.gov. Based on the vote, the top 10 Milestone Documents were these:
- Declaration of
Independence (1776) 29,681 votes.
- Constitution of the United States (1787) 27,070 votes.
of Rights (1791) 26,545 votes
- Louisiana Purchase Treaty (1803) 13,417 votes.
- Emancipation Proclamation (1863)
- 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women's Right to Vote (1920) 12,282 votes
- 13th Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution: Abolition of Slavery (1865) 11,789 votes.
- Gettysburg Address (1863) 9,939 votes.
Rights Act (1964) 9,860 votes.
- Social Security Act (1935) 8,157 votes.
The Articles of Confederation (1777)
with 5,785 votes ranked number 15 and President George Washington's Farewell Address (1796) with 2,950 votes ranked number
Return to the Home Page.