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The Constitution of the United States of America is the supreme law of the United States. Empowered with the sovereign authority of the people by the framers and the consent of the legislatures of the states, it is the source of all government powers, and also provides important limitations on the government that protect the fundamental rights of United States citizens.
The following text is a transcription of the Constitution as it was inscribed by Jacob Shallus on parchment (the document on display in the Rotunda at the National Archives Museum.) The spelling and punctuation reflect the original.
The first 10 amendments to the Constitution make up the Bill of Rights. James Madison wrote the amendments, which list specific prohibitions on governmental power, in response to calls from several states for greater constitutional protection for individual liberties.
Passed by Congress on June 13, 1866, the 14th amendment came about in the Reconstruction era of the United States after the end of the Civil War. Because of the defeat of the Confederacy many new federal laws were put in place.
Prior to 1919 when the 18 th Amendment was ratified, there was no time limit on the ratification process. However, in 1919, Congress instituted a time limit on the passage of a proposed addition to the Constitution. To date, six Amendments have been proposed that have not been ratified. Only two of the proposed Amendments could still be ratified.