The Declaration of Independence was the promise of a representative government; the Constitution was the fulfillment of that promise. On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress issued a unanimous declaration: the thirteen North American colonies would be the thirteen United States of America, free and independent of Great Britain. Drafted by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration set forth the terms of a new form of government with the following words: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Framed in 1787 and in effect since March 1789, the Constitution of the United States of America fulfilled the promise of the Declaration by establishing a republican form of government with separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, became part of the Constitution on December 15, 1791. Among the rights guaranteed by these amendments are freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and the right to trial by jury. Written so that it could be adapted to endure for years to come, the Constitution has been amended only seventeen times since 1791 and has lasted longer than any other written form of government.
“Take a minute to consider a gift that hasnÂt gone out of style in more than 200 years.” —Wall Street Journal
“Who needs play-stations when you can give the kids Thomas Jefferson?” — Independent (U.K.)
From the Publisher
To encourage people everywhere to better understand and appreciate the principles of government that are set forth in Americas founding documents, the Cato Institute published this pocket edition of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. With more than three million copies in print, this editions influence has been observed far and wide. It has been held up by senators at press conferences and by representatives during floor debate; found in federal judicial chambers across the country; appeared at conferences on constitutionalism in Russia, Iraq, and elsewhere; and sold at U.S. Park Service stores, Restoration Hardware, and book stores around the country. Its a perfect gift for friends and family. Order your copies today!
About the Author
Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the third President of the United States (1801–1809). He was an influential Founding Father, and an exponent of Jeffersonian democracy. Jefferson often referred to America as a great “Empire of Liberty” that would promote republicanism. At the beginning of the American Revolution, Jefferson served in the Continental Congress, representing Virginia. He then served as the wartime Governor of Virginia (1779–1781), barely escaping capture by the British in 1781. From mid-1784 Jefferson served as a diplomat, stationed in Paris, initially as a commissioner to help negotiate commercial treaties. In May 1785, he became the United States Minister to France. He was the first United States Secretary of State, (1789–1793). During the administration of President George Washington, Jefferson advised against a national bank and the Jay Treaty. He was the eponym of Jeffersonian democracy and the co-founder and leader of the Democratic-Republican Party, which dominated American politics for 25 years. Jefferson was born, and married into, prominent planter families; he was a loving husband to his wife Martha, who died in childbirth, and an affectionate father to their children. As a planter, Jefferson owned hundreds of slaves throughout his life; he held views on the racial inferiority of Africans common among Virginians for this period in time. After his wife died, Jefferson had an intimate relationship with his slave Sally Hemings, and had six children by her. A participant in The Enlightenment, Jefferson was a polymath who spoke five languages and was deeply interested in science and political philosophy. He wrote more than sixteen thousand letters and was acquainted with many influential people in America and Europe. Along with most southern planters, he disliked the international slave trade and presided over its abolition in 1807. Jefferson is typically rated by historical scholars as one of the greatest U.S. presidents.
The Declaration of Independence gets a stirring reading from Frank Langella, one that brings alive all the emotions our Founding Fathers must have felt when breaking free of England. Boyd Gainess reading of the Constitution doesnt fare as well, despite his efforts to give it a thoughtful reading that gives listeners plenty of time to ponder its points. It sounds like Gaines is reading a document that just wasnt meant to be read aloud. While important, the passage on the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is almost guaranteed to bring yawns. At 48 minutes, the disc falls short of the hour promised on the package. J.A.S. © AudioFile 2007, Portland, Maine– Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine