The founding documents

How did it all start?

Learn about some of the most important documents in the world

The United States Declaration of Independence

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence  was adopted by all 56 delegates to the Second Continental Congress at the Pennsylvania State House, later renamed Independence Hall, in Philadelphia.

Learn more about the Declaration of Independence

The Constitution of the United States

The Constitution of the United States was written at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, where 37 delegates assembled on May 25. On Sept. 17, 1787, the document was signed by 37 delegates, the first complete written national constitution in the world. It begins with the famous words, “We the People …”

Learn more about the U.S. Constitution

The United States Bill of Rights

The United States  Bill of Rights are the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Approved on Dec. 15, 1791, the laws protect against an oppressive national government and guarantee human rights and liberties to the individual, including freedom of religion freedom of speech, and freedom of the press.

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The United States Constitution has been amended a total of 27 timessince it was drafted in 1787.

The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on December 6, 1865, abolishing slavery.

The 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920, granting women the right to vote.

The Norwegian Constitution 

The Constitution of the Kingdom of Norway—Kongeriket Norges Grundlov—was adopted on May 17, 1814, in Eidsvoll. It was signed by 112 representatives from around Norway and is the second oldest written constitution in the world still in existence.

The Norwegian Sámi Act of 1987 codified rights for the Sámi People, including the establishment of the Sámi parliament. Since 1988, the Sámi people has been granted a constitutional right to develop their language, culture, and society. National Sámi Day in Norway is February 6.

Read the Norwegian Constitution