Charters of Freedom


Constitution of the United States

Drafted in secret by delegates to the Constitutional Convention during the summer of 1787, this four-page document, signed on September 17, 1787, established the government of the United States.


Constitution of the United States

Item From: General Records of the United States Government. (05/14/1787- 09/17/1787)

The Federal Convention convened on May 14, 1787 in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall to revise the problematic Articles of Confederation. Since only two states had delegations present, any substantive debate was postponed until a quorum of seven states was attained on May 25th. After exhaustive deliberation well into the middle of June, the Convention concluded that the Articles were not salvageable and needed to be replaced with something that represented their collective interests while ensuring their continued independence.

Through subsequent closed sessions, the delegates continually debated, drafted and redrafted the articles of this new Constitution until it resembled the one we have today. The main points of contention were how much power was apportioned to the Federal Government, how many Congressional representatives were allotted to each state, and whether these representatives would be directly elected by their constituents or appointed by their state legislatures.

This new Constitution was the cumulative result of many minds coming together to conceptualize and debate the future course of the country. Through subsequent generations it has been amended and reinterpreted many times, but its continued success stems from adherence to these early promises of representation and compromise.


Constitution Day

If we maneuver our time vehicle along to 1787, we see the chamber of Independence Hall, where the Constitution is being drafted under the stern eye of George Washington. Some other faces are familiar. Benjamin Franklin is there, of course, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut. Thomas Jefferson has gone to Paris. The quiet genius of this Convention is James Madison.

But Jefferson’s principles are very much present. The Constitution, when it is done, will translate the great ideals of the Declaration [of Independence] into a legal mechanism for effective government, where the unalienable rights of individual Americans are secure.

Remarks of President Gerald R. Ford at the National Archives, July 2, 1976

Today we commemorate the signing of the Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. The Constitution is on permanent display year round at the U.S. National Archives in Washington, DC. Learn more about the creation and history of the Constitution, and meet America’s Founding Fathers, in the “The Charters of Freedom” online exhibit.

Image:  President Gerald R. Ford Delivering Remarks at the Opening of the “76 Hour Vigil: A National Tribute to the Charters of Freedom” at the National Archives, 7/2/1976

a psa for people attending rallies and demonstrations in Canada tonight, since all links I’ve seen so far deal with American law (understandably), just take note of the fact that if anyone tries to stop you from assembling or if a cop tries to take you aside, quote that your right to peaceful assembly is protected under section 2 b,c,and d of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These three sections guarantee you the right to peaceful assembly, free speech, opinion, and expression, as well as the freedom of association. you are under no obligation to go anywhere with, or be interviewed by a cop - ask if you are being arrested. if they say no or don’t answer, you have the right to walk away. if you are being arrested, ask why and also you can refuse to say or do anything until you have a lawyer.

stay safe!


Today (February 7th 2014) is the start of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.


At the top you see how the google doodle looked today.

As you can see the doodle - similar to the gay pride flag-  is completed with a quote from the Olympic Charter.

The Charter reads:

“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

 The Charter talks about human rights, individualism, solidarity and fairness. We’re all equal on this planet without distinction such as race, colour, sex, origin and sexual orientation.

Homosexuality is a taboo in Russia. Gay people face discrimination in public. It’s horrible.


I wanted to thank Google to make this doodle today. People need to notice what’s going on. Please share this as well.

Thank you.


Repeal Bill C-51 (Petition)

Ed is right: C-51 is dangerous and an attack on our fundamental rights and freedoms. And now that it’s just passed the Senate, it’s time to fight back and get it repealed.

Engaged citizens and civil society have proven that, with determination, we can prevail.

We must stand up for our rights and for the society we want. We must fight to repeal C-51.

Tell the leaders of the federal parties you expect them to honour the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and restore the balance at the heart of our democracy.

Tell them to reject fear and repeal C-51.

Sign this petition so that Ed can show party leaders in Ottawa that Canadians across the country care about this issue.

Ed has pledged to deliver your signature, along with the signatures of other concerned Canadians, to party leaders. Join us as one voice against C-51!


January 8th 1912: African National Congress founded

On this day in 1912 the South African political party, the African National Congress, was founded. The party began as the South African Native National Congress and was founded at the Waaihoek Wesleyan Church in Bloemfontein. The ANC aimed to fight for the rights of South African blacks who suffered daily discrimination and violence under the brutal apartheid system. In 1955 the ANC and its allies proclaimed the Freedom Charter, which set out the party’s core principles and commitment to equality and democracy, incorporating demands from regular South Africans. In 1961 the ANC formed a military wing called Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), who resolved to fight apartheid through violence. The group gained traction as it was widely felt that nonviolent methods were not producing results while the white authorities continued to commit atrocities against black South Africans. Nelson Mandela was a major leader of this military wing and spent 27 years in prison for his role in the group, being labelled a terrorist by many Western nations. Upon his release, Mandela led the ANC in the successful negotiations to end apartheid, and was overwhelmingly elected President of South Africa in the first multi-racial elections in 1994. The ANC has governed South Africa since, currently under President Jacob Zuma, though the party’s electoral support has been waning in recent years. In 2013, Nelson Mandela died aged 95 and has been mourned around the world as a hero who fought for freedom in South Africa, and as a symbol of resistance for oppressed peoples everywhere.

“We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know: that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people…”
- opening lines of the ANC’s 1955 Freedom Charter


Learn about the Conservation and Re-encasement of the Declaration of Independence (and solve an Independence Day Mystery!)

via preservearchives

Kitty Nicholson, retired Supervisory Conservator at the National Archives, details the conservation of the Declaration of Independence and shares a small mystery in an exclusive video on the National Archives YouTube Channel

Watch the following video and see if you can help solve the mystery!

Happy Independence Day!

Happy 800th anniversary, Magna Carta!

On June 15, 1215, in a muddy field just west of London, 40 rebelling barons gathered to confront King John over his tyrannical behavior, and strike a compromise to avert civil war. The meeting resulted in King John affixing his seal on a document known as Magna Carta, or the “Great Charter,” which guaranteed the barons a number of rights and liberties, and curbed the king’s feudal power.

With 3,500 Latin words on a single sheet of parchment, Magna Carta has been described as the “greatest constitutional document of all times.” It was one of the first instances of the inalienable rights of the individual to property and freedom recognized in a legal document. In America, the document has a special significance: the main ethos of the charter served as inspiration for the founding fathers when drafting the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Near these founding documents on display at the National Archives Museum is a 1297 Magna Carta, courtesy of David M. Rubenstein - one of only four surviving copies of that version. 

[Liberty] can be lost, and it will be, if the time ever comes when these documents are regarded not as the supreme expression of our profound belief, but merely as curiosities in glass cases.

Harry S. Truman


Supporters publicly abandoning Liberal Party over Trudeau’s support for Bill C-51

Social media is abuzz with images of Liberal supporters symbolically cutting up their party membership cards after their leader Justin Trudeau voted in favour of Bill C-51 at the anti-terrorism legislation’s third reading in the House of Commons.

Disillusioned supporters also plastered Trudeau’s Facebook page with angry comments about the party’s support for the controversial bill which has been denounced as dangerous and draconian by legal experts, academics, former Prime Ministers, First Nations groups, civil society organizations and all opposition parties other than the Liberals.

“Supporting Bill C-51 is the stupidest thing the Liberal party has ever done,” Doug MacNaughton wrote. “You could have changed your mind today, saying that the Conservative amendments didn’t go far enough. Instead, we’re left depending on the Supreme Court to declare that the bill is unconstitutional. Your father brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms – you just voted to tear it up.”

“Sorry Justin Trudeau, I supported you from less that 100 likes on your page,” David Joseph wrote. “From the first speech you gave as the leader of the Liberal party. But now you’ve lost my confidence as a leader and much of the rest of the countries confidence!”

Trudeau’s loss is turning out to be Thomas Mulcair’s gain with diehard Liberal supporters vowing to vote for the NDP at October’s election.

“Well, it’s decided! I cannot support a leader who supports C-51,” Wayne Menard wrote. “Have you read the thing? I am casting my lot with the NDP after 30 years of being a card carrying Liberal. Sad, so very sad!”

Continue Reading.


Celebrating the 225th Anniversary of Constitution Day!

September 17 is designated as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787.  

Watch for more posts here on Today’s Document and the National Archives Tumblr as we count down to the Constitution’s 225th!

More Constitution-related events and offerings from the National Archives, including:

Registration is now open for the next #ArchivesSleepover! Join us for “History, Heroes, and Treasures: Explorers Night” on August 2 at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC.

Campers will journey to the Arctic, visit Outer Space, and discover the American West as they explore the National Archives Museum’s treasured records, before turning in to sleep in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, next to the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

For more information or to register, go to

Harper’s Canada

Harper: So I want to ban the niqab at citizenship ceremonies.

Supreme Court: No. That’s against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Harper: That’s bullshit!

Supreme Court: No.

Harper: Fine! …Can I do it now?

Supreme Court: No.

Harper: How about now?

Supreme Court: No.

Harper: How about I ban them for all public servants?

Supreme Court: ಠ_ಠ

The Struggle for Access to Abortion Today

By Sara Tatelman

In 1970, 35 women chained themselves to the parliamentary gallery in Ottawa as part of a mass demonstration for abortion rights. With R. vs. Morgentaler in 1988, the Supreme Court struck down the section of the Criminal Code regulating abortion, finding that it violated section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Today abortion is a safe, legal, and common medical procedure, but in the Maritimes and in northern and rural communities across Canada, there are major barriers to access.

Continue Reading.


Happy 227th #ConstitutionDay!

September 17 is designated as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. Learn more about the U.S. Constitution through programs, and resources from the National Archives:

Have you ever been to the usnatarchives to see the Constitution in person?  

Bonus question - have you ever slept over in the same room as the Constitution?