Reading the USA foundational documents.

1 Abstract

This document is for reading and making notes about the different foundational documents of the United States.

2 Documents

2.1 Give me Liberty or give me Death, 1775-03-23 (Patrick Henry)

2.1.1 Important phrases

  1. Experience above all:

    I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience

  2. Power is against the people:

    Has Great Britain any enemy in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other.

  3. Insist on the fact that argumentation has all been exhausted:

    Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer.

  4. Insist that waiting is not giving us any advantage:

    They tell us, sir, that we are weak — unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house?

  5. Overstate the numbers:

    Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.

  6. Imply that we are not alone:

    Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.

  7. Imply that raw power is not enough:

    The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.

  8. Imply that there is no retreat:

    Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston!

  9. Imply that other people are already engaged:

    Our brethren are already in the field!

  10. Throw a challenge:

    Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!

2.1.2 Hard Phrases

  1. It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope.

    Not for man. English is tricky.

  2. We are apt to shut our eyes

    "apt to" means what?

  3. Is this "the part of wise men"

    It proper for wise men?

  4. Are we disposed to be of the number of those, who having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation?

    "disposed to" means "destined to"

  5. God of Hosts

    ?

2.1.3 Words

word translation
anguish  
For my part as to me
to provide for it to prepare for it
snare  
comport match
remonstrate  
supplicate  
slight a petition  
fond hope  
contend privilege  
supinely  
extenuate  
gale  
sweeps  
resounding  
   

2.2 Declaration of Independence, 1776-07-04 (Thomas Jefferson with the help of Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston)

2.2.1 Important Phrases

  1. You must declare what exactly makes you leave the union:

    When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

  2. There are inalienable rights:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

  3. Governments are to serve the people and protect rights:

    That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

  4. It is generally not very good to just rebel:

    Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;

  5. When suffering is no too big, people keep suffering:

    all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

  6. Stress that hardships are for the future:

    it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security

  7. List explicitly all the grievances of yours:

    To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

  8. No feedback:

    He has refused his Assent to Laws

  9. No delegation of power:

    He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance

  10. No representation:

    He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people

  11. Made deliberate inconveniences for people:

    He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable

  12. Did infringements repeatedly:

    He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly

  13. Legislative powers return to people: (!)

    Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise;

    A very interesting phrase! As a Russian, I would have never thought that Legislative powers are incapable of annihilation. I would presume that they appear with the emergence of an assembly and disappear with its dissolution.

  14. Stress security:

    the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

  15. The invitation of friends is a right of a region:

    He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners;

  16. Citizenship is invariably tied to owning land:

    refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

  17. Independent courts were still a problem:

    He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

  18. Dependence of judges was reinforced by salaries at that time already:

    He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

  19. Bureaucracy was already a problem:

    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

  20. Too much siloviki was already a problem:

    He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

  21. Oprichnina was already a problem:

    He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

  22. The over-representation of irrelevant people in the parliament was already a problem:

    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

  23. Too large of an army was already a problem:

    For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

  24. Tiny prison sentences were already a problem:

    For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

  25. Tariffs and sanctions were already a problem:

    For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

  26. Raising taxes was already a problem:

    For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

  27. The trial by jury was already a problem:

    For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

  28. Being sent to Siberia for minor things was already a problem:

    For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

  29. Infringement of the Local Government rights was already a problem:

    For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

  30. Punishment operations were already a problem:

    He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

    He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

  31. Hiring of mercenaries was already a problem:

    He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death

  32. Conscription was already a problem:

    He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

  33. Exploration of national minorities was already a problem:

    He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

  34. People should try negotiations first:

    In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms

  35. Sanctions should be against governments, not people:

    Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren.

  36. Main things that constitute an independent State:

    Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce

2.2.2 Hard Phrases

  1. to right themselves

    To correct their position.

  2. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism

    Very hard to conceive such a sentence. Especially "evince a design". What is "pursuing the same Object"?

2.2.3 Words

word translation
hath shewn has shown
acquiesce  
Absolve  
   

2.3 Articles of Confederation, 1777-11-15

2.3.1 Important phrases

  1. Articles of Confederation are seen as a document sent outwards, not inwards

    To all to whom these Presents shall come, we, the undersigned Delegates of the States affixed to our Names send greeting.

  2. A Country is a union of its parts, not more:

    Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.

  3. The main reason why a country is formed is foreign defence:

    The said states hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defence, the security of their Liberties, and their mutual and general welfare

  4. Criminals are not entitled to rights:

    The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different states in this union, the free inhabitants of each of these states, paupers, vagabonds and fugitives from Justice excepted, shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens

  5. Each citizen of any state A, when he is in a different state B, has the same rights and obligations as a free citizen of B, except the transportation of goods (!)

    shall have free ingress and regress to and from any other state, and shall enjoy therein all the privileges of trade and commerce, subject to the same duties, impositions and restrictions as the inhabitants thereof respectively, provided that such restrictions shall not extend so far as to prevent the removal of property imported into any state, to any other State of which the Owner is an inhabitant;

  6. A constituent state cannot tax shared property of the country or any other state:

    no imposition, duties or restriction shall be laid by any state, on the property of the united states, or either of them.

  7. Extradition is normal:

    If any Person guilty of, or charged with, treason, felony, or other high misdemeanor in any state, shall flee from Justice, and be found in any of the united states, he shall upon demand of the Governor or executive power of the state from which he fled, be delivered up, and removed to the state having jurisdiction of his offence

  8. Court decisions are respected:

    Full faith and credit shall be given in each of these states to the records, acts and judicial proceedings of the courts and magistrates of every other state.

  9. Delegates are sent by local assemblies:

    delegates shall be annually appointed in such manner as the legislature of each state shall direct

  10. A local assembly can recall any delegate:

    power reserved to each state to recall its delegates

  11. A delegate cannot be a delegate for too long:

    no person shall be capable of being delegate for more than three years, in any term of six years

  12. One state – one vote

    In determining questions in the united states, in Congress assembled, each state shall have one vote.

  13. Freedom of Speech is holy (at least for the delegates):

    Freedom of speech and debate in Congress shall not be impeached or questioned in any Court, or place out of Congress, and the members of congress shall be protected in their persons from arrests and imprisonments, during the time of their going to and from, and attendance on congress, except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace.

2.3.2 Difficult words

word translation
Present верительная грамота?
viz.  
The Stile The name, title?
   

2.4 The Constitution of the United States, 1787-09-17 (Gouverneur Morris)

2.5 The Federalist, 1787-10 and 1788-04 (Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay)

2.6 The Anti-Federalist (Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, Joshua Atherton)

2.7 The Bill of Rights, 1789-09-25 (James Madison)

2.8 Important Amendments (many of those)