They are three of the most famous documents in American -- or rather -- human history. The Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and U.S. Constitution form the basis of the American republic. But can you tell them apart?
Without the Declaration of Independence, the other two documents wouldn't exist. Neither would the United States of America.
The Bill of Rights is a collection of amendments. Those amendments had a profound effect on another important document.
The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. These amendments alter the Constitution in profound ways.
The preamble to the Constitution is one of the most famous phrases in history. "We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union..."
The Constitution is the supreme law of the United States. It creates a fundamental framework for the political workings of the world's most powerful country.
In July of 1776, the English colonies approved the Declaration of Independence, expressing their intent to cast off British rule. As you can imagine, King George was none too happy about this little uprising. He sent even more troops to put down the rebellion.
Colonists were mad with excitement at readings of the Declaration. In some areas, they took to rioting, destroying symbols of British oppression.
"...that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." Those famous words are from the Declaration, as the Founding Fathers worked to persuade Britain to set the colonies free.
Jefferson wasn't known for his verbal proficiency -- but he was masterful with ink and paper. He wrote many of the most famous lines of the Declaration.
The Constitution originally had seven articles. The articles establish the principles of the country's government.
The Constitution is made up of several articles, including Article I, which establishes the legislative branch of the federal government.
The Constitution is anything but permanent. It's been amended 27 times since it was first approved, in large part to keep pace with the nation's changing culture and ideals.
George Washington had 14 copies of the Bill of Rights made so that the states could consider it for ratification. But four states -- Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia and Maryland -- no longer have their copies, which were lost under various circumstances.
The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was a first version of the Constitution. It gave almost no power to the central government, something that changed in later versions of the Constitution.
It's a misconception that the Declaration was signed on July 4, 1776. America declared independence on July 2, but Congress didn't officially sign the document until August 2.
"Taxation without representation" was a major theme of rebellion in the colonies. They were tired of Britain's unfair taxes. The Declaration worked to create independence for all 13 of the colonies.
Both the Constitution and the Declaration were written under pressure in Philadelphia. The Bill of Rights, however, was written in New York.
Until the Constitution, the world had never before seen such a document. It lent a permanent type of liberty to a freedom-loving people.
The Constitution gave form to the United States. The Bill of Rights, however, stepped in to reassert the rights of the people ... and to limit the government's powers.
In 1787, Mason proposed the Bill of Rights. But the delegates were already weary from fashioning the Constitution, so the Bill was initially rejected.
In June of 1776, the Continental Congress approved a Committee of Five to begin drafting a formal Declaration of Independence from Britain. Eventually, the task of the initial writing fell to just a single man on the committee.
One of America's famous forefathers, James Madison, advocated for a Bill of Rights. After a lot of heated debate, it became effective in December 1791.
In the Declaration of Independence, colonial leaders outlined the "injuries" that Britain had caused and that as a result, the colonies were declaring their independence.
It's one of the most famous signatures in history -- John Hancock's smooth, clean name, which is listed first on the Declaration of Independence. Had the Revoluation failed, perhaps his head would've been the first on the chopping block.
For more than a century, the Bill of Rights existed in a quiet realm of American society. But in the past few decades, its amendments have been brought up in Supreme Court cases time and again.
In 1689, Britain created its own bill of rights, and it seems that Americans copied some important passages, such as the prevention of "cruel and unusual punishment."
On July 4, 1826, the 50-year anniversary of the vote to approve the Declaration, both Adams and Jefferson died. It was a weirdly patriotic way for both of them to go.
What, you've never heard of Bill of Rights Day? It's gotten off to a slow start, in part because it was approved in 1941, just a week after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and America entered World War II.
Once the Declaration had been ratified, a printer named John Dunlap printed about 200 copies, which were distributed throughout the colonies. Only 26 known copies of the "Dunlap Broadsides" survive.
America declared her independence and then began spreading the word to the public. It was read aloud for the first time on July 8, 1776, in a public area of Philadelphia.