America's Founding Documents


This course will introduce the foundational documents
of the United States, which consist of the Declaration
of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights
(collectively known as the “Charters of Freedom”), along
with the Emancipation Proclamation.

We will cover the events that led to the preparation and
adoption of each document, as well as its content, signatories
and effects. Among other things, we will discuss the
disputes between Great Britain and its 13 American colonies
that led to adoption of the Declaration of Independence
and the five official forms of the document; the circumstances
that resulted in a national convention that produced
the Constitution in the summer of 1787; the close and hardfought
debate during the ratification process by the states;
and the circumstances that resulted in preparation and
ratification of the first 10 amendments to the Constitution,
although the members of the Constitutional Convention
determined that such amendments were not necessary.

We also will discuss why President Abraham Lincoln
issued the Emancipation Proclamation almost two years
after the start of the Civil War, the effects of the document
and how it has been perceived over time.

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