Talk:United States Constitution

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RE:Last sentences in introduction[edit]

I recently removed a sentence at the end of the introduction (Research has shown that this influence may be on the wane, however.) for bring un-encyclopedic and non-NPOV. As a result, the last paragraph of the introduction reads:

The Constitution is interpreted, supplemented, and implemented by a large body of constitutional law. The Constitution of the United States was the first constitution of its kind, and has influenced the constitutions of other nations.

While brevity is nice, this is a bit too brief, not to mention bone-bare. This paragraph needs a little (but not too much) more meat on it. What, if anything, can-be/needs-to-be added to it? Drdpw (talk) 21:55, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

As often, my own preference is for bare bones in an introduction, or in a master article that has several subordinate articles. This intro, of course, is both, so I am pleased with that trim, and suggest trimming further meat from the intro including which states sent delegates to the Convention, and which ratified when. Jim.henderson (talk) 14:44, 6 May 2014 (UTC)
I heartily concur with Drdpw's removal of the Research distraction. Jim.henderson's suggestion to remove the states in convention is also appropriate, that is covered in the History of the United States Constitution. It is more relevant that all thirteen ratified the Constitution in two years, three times faster than the Articles of Confederation. But even that is a note for the History of ....
Henderson's removal will take away the last bit in the introduction of the previous compact-of-sovereign states POV from two years ago, which misapplied Articles history to the Constitution in the fashion of the Lost Cause tradition and the writings of Jefferson Davis. The people in the states formed the Union in the Constitution, in electorates broader than those electing state legislatures. See Pauline Maier's history, Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 07:16, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
Done. Additionally, I removed procedural, historical account of Bill of Rights passage in the introduction.
The following phrase is incomplete and not in encyclopedic style: "Articles Four and Six entrench the doctrine of federalism,", it should read instead, for style and completeness, "Articles Four, Five and Six establish federalism,". as part of the U.S. federalism is that states can initiate constitutional conventions to propose amendments apart from Congress, and that is provided for in Article Five. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 07:55, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
After reading your above comment, I made this change to the introduction, "Articles Four, Five and Six entrench concepts of federalism, describing the rights and responsibilities of state governments and of the states in relationship to the federal government." Drdpw (talk) 15:19, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
Like. On second thought, "entrench" just means establish so firmly that change is unlikely, why not? TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 16:32, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
Entrench more precise and has greater technical accuracy than establish does. While certain things are established–specifically spelled out/articulated–in the various clauses of the Constitution, the concepts underlying "those certain things" are not. The Constitution itself, on the other hand, is established; built to embody the concepts of federalism. Those concepts are laid out and entrenched (dig in or firmly plant/ground) them so firmly that alterations are either more difficult or nearly impossible to make. What's in the articles of the Constitution are expressions of federalism. Drdpw (talk) 19:17, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
Splendid. Somehow, smarter people than me want to carry out my idea, letting me spend my time chasing photos of abandoned train stations in the Bronx and otherwise combining historical fun with the physical kind. What a lovely system. Jim.henderson (talk) 10:20, 9 May 2014 (UTC)

Ratification GFE by Drdpw[edit]

The undiscussed edit by Drdpw was both not in encyclopedic summary style and it lost important detail relative to the expansion of the franchise for ratification conventions in the states following Congressional instructions to the state legislatures. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 09:58, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

What is this supposed to mean?[edit]

"The Articles Congress certified eleven states' beginning the new government..."

Someone with a good command of English, and the US constitution, should go through this entire article and clean up the sentences that are unclear or incomprehensible, and there are several. Arcanicus (talk) 15:51, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

What's stopping you?--Tomwsulcer (talk) 17:09, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
The sentence is clear though amended from its original, as Wikipedia is a collaborative process. The Articles Congress dissolved itself when it certified the people of the United States in eleven states ratified the Constitution to begin a new government. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 21:10, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
@Arcanicus: Your point is well taken; its clarity has apparently been tarnished by over-handling, so much so, that it looks out of place. It is also the third time in the article that the same statement is made. Drdpw (talk) 23:39, 26 June 2014 (UTC)

The very phrase "Articles Congress" is unfamiliar to most readers. Googling "Articles Congress" one concludes that the phrase has been excessively abbreviated (this isn't Twitter; you aren't limited to 140 characters) and should be written out more fully "Congress as organized under the Articles of Confederation." Further, the reference to a Supreme Court during the period of "first government" is very confusing. The relevant decisions were in fact made by the Supreme Court after the Constitution had come into force, but that is not at all obvious from the existing text. Someone unfamiliar with American history is going to be scratching their head for a long time over this. Finally, this section, though titled "First Government", says almost nothing about the first government of the US, before the Articles of Confederation had been enacted. If the rest of the Wikipedia article is this confused, it need to be reorganized along more logical lines.Floozybackloves (talk) 18:22, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

Please do elaborate the constitutional elements of the Revolutionary Congress with additional sourced contributions. But the sentence with the phrase "Prior to the Articles of Confederation and the Articles Congress," --- does not need to be rewritten "Prior to the Articles of Confederation and the Congress as organized under the Articles of Confederation". That assumes the reader cannot follow an introductory prepositional phrase and it results in a stilted style of needless repetition.
When the Supreme Court is used as a reference in the narrative, as we use "historian John Smith", it is common to link cases, which are dated after the establishment of the Constitution. Problem solved. I agree compound sentences are sometimes difficult to follow for the elementary reader, though the general newspaper reader comprehends at a sixth grade reading level. What is your recommended rewrite in simple declaratory sentences? TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 08:36, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
I reworked the passage following Floozybackloves suggestion, calling the Supreme Court referenced a "later Supreme Court" and reordering the passage a bit to try to clarify the points made. Again, additional sample language is welcomed for discussion. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 08:50, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

Original Text section edit[edit]

I have simplified the subheadings in the Original Text section. There is no need to have four and five levels of subheadings in this section. I also tweaked the wording in the Articles 2, 5, and 7. The wording now follows the pattern in the other articles more closely. In the final paragraph of the section I modified the wording to match the wording Congress uses RE:Amendments (This amendment shall be inoperative unless ...) I have also removed the sentence mentioned above by Arcanicus as its point is made up-page in two places. Drdpw (talk) 23:39, 26 June 2014 (UTC)

You have violated the word limit of 3-4 words for subheading titles. Perhaps eliminating calling out the number of each sequential article would help.
The insistence on stressing the nine rather than eleven, when nothing happened to constitute the new government until Congress certified that eleven states had ratified and disbanded itself, reflects the contention of Jefferson Davis, that the United States existed until there were only eight states left, implying states ability to secede was inherent in the Constitution. His position is wp:fringe Lost Cause historiography. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 11:54, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
I couldn't find a wiki-rule limiting size of subheading titles VH. I did modify the headings used in the section a bit.
I know nothing about Confederate lost cause historiography and, probably because I'm a Yankee, the point you were trying to make sailed past me. The reason for stressing the number nine in the Article VII subsection is because that's the "magic number" referred to there. That's as far ahead as the framers thought. The stress is on the number eleven earlier in the article, and appropriately so, as that was the number of states that had ratified the Constitution when the Confederation Congress certified that the Constitution had been ratified by more than the number required by its terms for it to become operational and made it so. Its not a matter of insisting on one over the other. Its seeing each as being appropriate to stress at the appropriate point in the narrative. Drdpw (talk) 03:31, 28 June 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the reasonable reply. It is also of note that the Articles took the Founders 1776-1781 to ratify unanimously "perpetual Union", and the Constitution's "more perfect Union" than the Article's perpetual Union took only 1787-1790, so the Constitution was ratified unanimously two times faster than the Articles ..... TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 01:10, 30 June 2014 (UTC)

GF edit to introduction by MorrisS[edit]

While the current legal system of San Marino began in 1600 and is far older than that of the USA, it isn't correct to call the Leges Statuti of 1600 the Constitution of the Republic of San Marino, even though its Book One does contain constitutional elements. For an in depth discussion, see Talk:Constitution of San Marino. The consensus, RE: this article, was to refer to the United States Constitution as "the oldest constitution of its kind ..." See Talk:United States Constitution/Archive 9. Drdpw (talk) 23:49, 31 July 2014 (UTC)

Thank you for policing this, I'm not sure why it keeps resurfacing in particular, since there are other organic constitutions reduced to writing even prior to San Marino's, as previously discussed by others. "The oldest constitution of its kind" is a pretty careful phrasing of the matter for this article, and it should suffice. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 07:36, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

"Frame of Government"[edit]

We have major sections entitled "Frame of Government", "Modifying the frame" and then "Amendments". Why not rename "Frame of Government" to "Original Text"? After all, the entire constitution is the frame of the government, so the current section title is misleading. The "Modifying the frame" section is just a long explanation of the amendment process and rationale. First off, this was already covered (in less detail) in the section covering Article Five. Second, shouldn't it just be part of the "Amendments" section? Third, there's so much detail here that you could almost spin it off into a new article. And even if we're going to keep the basic structure here, "Modifying the frame" should be renamed as "Amendment Process" or something, shouldn't it? As it stands, it sounds as if "the frame" is something distinct from "the Constitution". Sonicsuns (talk) 00:44, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

@Sonicsuns:Thanks for your input. I see your point and I've made some modifications to the article. The Modifying the frame section has been split up, with parts going to the introduction, Article Five subsection (replacing a couple sentences that looked like original research and said basically the same thing) or Adopted amendments section. You'll note that I didn't change the Frame of government section title. Now, without the Modifying the frame section, and with the introductory sentences beneath the title, is it clearer that "the frame" is not distinct from "the Constitution"? Drdpw (talk) 19:52, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
@Drdpw:Thanks for making those changes. I still think that "Frame of Government" should be retitled "Original Text", though. It still implies that the adopted amendments are not part of "the frame". Yet in actual practice, the First Amendment (for instance) is very important. You could easily describe the Bill of Rights, and indeed all the adopted amendments, as being part of "the frame" on which the government operates. "Frame of Government" is ambiguous, but "Original Text" is objectively true.Sonicsuns (talk) 21:36, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps the title should be "Original frame". The United States government in its "Original frame" is organized as a central government in a federal system. It is a central government with three branches to protect against centralized tyranny, in a federal system with states to protect against state tyranny. The amendments are improvements on the frame, such as presidential elections specifying vice president, or removing corrupt state legislatures from electing U.S. Senators.
The Bill of Rights was very important to secure the ratification of those fearful of the central government before the checks and balances at the federal level were well understood. Indeed they are still important, as much of the national jurisprudence of the Supreme Court over the last century and a half since the 14th Amendment is the work of conforming the states to the Bill of Rights which was initially only applied to the central government. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 07:27, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
Changing Frame of government to "Original frame" sounds good to me; I'll make the change. Drdpw (talk) 01:16, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

I am going through the adopted amendments, adding content to each one and giving each its own paragraph worth of information. I've completed amendments One through Eleven and will do the rest as I have time over the next few weeks. Please feel free offer suggestions and to fine-tune what I've done thus far. Drdpw (talk) 01:38, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

Amendments enumeration[edit]

This effort continues the general effect in recent edits to eliminate historical context and encyclopedic style, replacing it with a restatement from other articles in an mechanically itemized fashion. This has the consequence of making the article impenetrable for the general reader. The effect is exaggerated with the proposed expansion of the list of amendments article then translated into this one.

Simply restating the organization of the subsidiary articles violates one of Wikipedia’s principles, a prohibition against articles mirroring each other. Diverse content, organization and illustration across related articles is encouraged, but now that is to be lost, removing the value added by topically organizing the material with historical context, and replacing it with a mere descriptive listing.

Instead, section 4. "Adopted amendments" should be subdivided into 4.1 “Bill of Rights” with three subdivisions topically organized: individual rights, trial and sentencing, and potential military coercion. 4.2 “Subsequent Amendments” with three subdivisions topically organized, citizen rights, three branches, and states and abuses. This makes the material more accessible for the general reader.

@Drdpw: The recent rewrite of the second amendment description per se by Drdpw may dodge some of the recent instability from POV edits. But it should be addressed topically along with the potential military coercion addressed in the third amendment. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 07:13, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

I had intended to stay out of this, since law and legal history are not among my major interests, but was asked very politely and with much flattery, so I'll throw in my two cents worth. The article as a whole has expanded some 10% in the past two months, and the majority of the expansion is in the Amendments section. As it happens, large articles often trigger my sense of WP:TOOBIG, in part because of my two tablets and an old smartphone, none of which can read this whole article. Many readers, though few highly active editors, have their only access to Wikipedia by similarly limited means. So, here with my real computer, I look at article United States Bill of Rights which handles its particular topics rather thoroughly without saying much in its itemized list. It would not suffer much if it where bigger (especially since it is a more advanced topic, thus less interesting to underequipped readers) whilst our present article would definitely benefit from being smaller.
Notice, I have thus far ignored my old friend @TheVirginiaHistorian:'s concern that handling the amendments thematically (he's one of the editors who did that, years ago) made it all easier for the reader to understand. This too is an important consideration, as other articles, most of them linked from our text, handle each list item better and a serial summary of them is not needed here. Best of all, from my way of looking at it, his old thematic arrangement resulted in less text. Jim.henderson (talk) 21:16, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for your input. I do see and concur with your observations about the impact that my editorial re-organization has on the user-friendliness, if you will, of the article. Here’s what I propose, I’ll trim the amendment descriptions a bit and organize them topically
“Safeguards of individual liberty” – amendments 1, 2 & 3
“Legal protections” – amendments 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8
“Unenumerated rights and reserved powers” – amendments 9 & 10
“Expansion of citizen rights” – amendments 13, 14, 15, 19, 23, 24 & 26
“Governmental authority” – amendments 11, 16, 18 & 21
“Government processes and procedures” – amendments 12, 17, 20, 22, 25 & 27. Drdpw (talk) 00:13, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
Another way to slice the pie in about three equal sections would be
  • Liberty, justice and citizenship. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13, 19, 26
  • National government. 12, 16, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27
  • States and federal relationships. 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 18, 21
These also echo the Constitution's *Preamble, *Arts. 1-3, and *Arts. 4-7. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 06:48, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
I love it when keen minds agree to cut into hard problems rather than let mine be dulled further. Jim.henderson (talk) 18:19, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
I've finished adding content to each ratified Constitutional amendment and giving each its own paragraph worth of information. Regarding how to "slice the (topical organization of amendments) pie" here's what I've done:
  • Safeguards of liberty
  • Safeguards of justice
  • Unenumerated rights and reserved powers
  • Governmental authority
  • Safeguards of civil rights
  • Government processes and procedures
I think these labels offer good thematic "hooks" for the various articles. Please feel free offer suggestions and to fine-tune what's been done to date. Note: I also tweaked the introduction with these changes in mind. Drdpw (talk) 21:08, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
I find the current thematic arrangement very confusing, especially given that this is the page people are apt to first come to if they want to know basic things such as which amendment gave women the vote. If you must have a thematic arrangement, it doesn't have to be so abstractly analytical, but historical. I would think it more satisfactory to have the Bill of Rights under one heading, with sub-headings or prefatory comments to sub-divide it further, if you must. Then the Civil War amendments, Prohibition amendments, etc. And you don't have to group them so severely. The XXII could be under one heading - Reaction to FDR's Four Terms, the XXV under another - Post Kennedy Assassination Presidential Succession Worries. Additionally, the amendment titles aren't bold enough. That could be improved by either making each amendment a sub-section, with the additional advantage of putting each in the table of contents, or rendering each ordinal-numbered title in boldface. Dhtwiki (talk) 01:41, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
There should be no confusion. I am concerned with a topical organization similar to the document as a whole structured in an arrangement similar to the Federalist Papers. The general reader will go to List of amendments to the United States Constitution to determine which amendment gave the women the vote, because it should be linked in this article in a hat note. Otherwise, under a) Liberty, Justice and Citizenship, b) national government and c) states and federal relationships --- are more organically descriptive of the a) the Preamble, b) arts. 1-3 and c) arts. 4-7.
Each major section should be subdivided into groupings of 3-5 similar amendments, so each section with an introduction paragraph would be written into 4-6 paragraphs each, consistent with the WP Manual of Style WP:MOS.
  • For instance, in national government, there are two natural divisions, congressional (4 amendments) and presidential (5 amendments). Since the congressional income tax (XVI), congressional election of senators (XVII) congressional and presidential terms (XX) and congressional salaries (XXVII) relate to Article I, the Congress, they belong in the same subsection.
  • Since presidential election tickets (Amend. XII), presidential and congressional terms (XX), presidential term limits (XXII), presidential DC electors (XXIII) and presidential succession (XXV) are related to the structure of the Executive (Article II), they belong in the same subsection. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 04:33, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
You're trying to fit a political document accumulated over centuries into the scheme of a coherent exposition of political theory written over the period of a year. The current groupings, and what you propose, are too arbitrary to be much of an advantage, especially as they put so many amendments out of chronological order. For example, in the present arrangement "Governmental authority" doesn't include the XIVth amendment, to which is often attributed the greatest expansion of Federal government authority; and, in your newly proposed arrangement, the XVIth, the federal income tax, is shoehorned into the congressional section, while the XXth, which relates to congressional terms as well, is put with the presidential amendments. In any case, the amendment titles in the body of the article could be made more distinguishable. Dhtwiki (talk) 06:20, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Making each Amendment its own list heading violates WP:MOS, and the purported purpose of the rewrite is to achieve a better rating. There is no internal rationale for mere chronological enumeration, that is what the listing at List of amendments to the United States Constitution does, and a link to that chronological listing should be included in this article in a hat note for the general reader.

The XIVth relates to states, so it is reasonably placed in a section of perhaps five paragraphs related to “states and federalism”, along with IX, X, XV, XVIII-XXI. The XIVth is not related to expansion of federal authority so much as it is related to curbing the injustices of state abuses by individuals and minorities appealing to national judiciary against the state-based tyranny of a local majority. In the federal system there is dual state and national citizenship. The XIVth basically extends the protections of the Bill of Rights and due process to individuals as state citizens.

Taxation is a power of Congress, it is logically and organically included in a congressional section. “Shoehorned” implies forced. But placing congressional powers with three other congressionally related amendments is not forced, it is good organization. The implication in the post above that organizing an article about the U.S. Constitution is now in the current day incoherent if it addresses amendments about the Congress in a subsection on Congress is, well, untenable.

The XXth would be included in both congressional and presidential sections because it addresses both. But if it is to be only one, it briefly determines the primacy of the First Branch organization, Congress, leaving congressional with four paragraphs and presidential with four. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 10:56, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Drdpw proposal[edit]

@Dhtwiki:Yes, if you're looking for a numerical 1, 2, 3, ... 25, 26, 27 ordering of amendments, the current thematic arrangement might indeed seem confusing. That confusion should however, subside after a few moments as you consider why each particular amendment is in the group that it's in.

Regarding amendments 11–27,

  • Governmental authority: 11 (authority of federal courts to hear cases against states), 16 (authority of Congress to impose/collect direct taxes), 18 (authority of Congress to regulate alcohol)& 21 (authority of states to regulate alcohol)
  • Safeguards of civil rights: 13 (abolition of slavery), 14 (citizens' immunities, privilege and protections) , 15 (voting rights expansion), 19 (voting rights expansion), 23 (voting rights expansion), 24 (breaking down voter suppression) & 26 (voting rights expansion)
  • Government processes and procedures 12 (electoral college process reform), 17 (procedure for electing US senators changed), 20 (start date for Presidential, Vice Presidential and Congressional terms changed), 22 (rule established for how many terms/years a person can serve as President), 25 (procedures & process regarding presidential succession modified) & 27 (procedural change regarding Congressional pay increases)

I suppose XIII and XIV could go under "governmental authority", and the group containing XV, XIX, XXIII, XXIV & XXVI could be renamed "voting rights". Drdpw (talk) 05:24, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

It took me a considerable amount of time to find my amendment (I think it was the 19th) in your scheme, but find it I did. However, that doesn't speak well of this arrangement being anything but unintuitive to the uninitiated. Is there any other U.S. constitutional presentation that starts out this way? Have you had much feedback from other novitiates on this matter? As far as re-arranging, I think all your arrangements so far are too arbitrary and unintuitive; and I wouldn't break up the Civil War set by putting 13 and 14 apart from 15. Dhtwiki (talk) 06:22, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
Some categorization is necessary to make the article more accessible specially on different browsers, as noted by Jim.henderson. I prefer the organic organization of the original document reflecting Montesquieu and the Federalist Papers, Drdpw is looking at a more political science formulation. Dhtwiki seems to prefer chronological organization based on historical period themes. But finding the 19th Amendment in Drdpw's scheme is relatively easy under the category "voting rights" he considered in his last posting.
@Drdpw: So to put the pieces together, Drdpw proposal might be amended to consolidate 9 and 10 into Government authority, and move 13 into a new citizenship and voting category, to get,
  • Individual liberty. 1, 2, 3
  • Legal protections. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
  • Citizenship and voting. 13, 15, 19, 23, 24, 26.
  • Government authority. 9, 10, 11, 14, 16, 18, 21
  • Government procedure. 12, 17, 20, 22, 25, 27
Is that attainable? It should yield five sections of about equal length. Each section should have an introductory paragraph explaining the theme for including each particular amendment to meet Dhtwiki concerns. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 06:45, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
As I've mentioned before, it would be helpful if each amendment had its own subsection, within your topical arrangement, with a heading consisting of amendment number, date ratified, and short descriptive subtitle. So...
  • XIXth Amendment (1920) - Gives women the right to vote
...would help it to stand out within the topical arrangement, and would cause it to be included in the table of contents for very easy summary reference. Dhtwiki (talk) 21:11, 30 August 2014 (UTC)
@Dhtwiki:How about something like ...
Safeguards of liberty
First Amendment (1791)
The First Amendment prohibits Congress ...
Second Amendment (1791)
The Second Amendment protects the right of individuals ...
Third Amendment (1791)
The Third Amendment prohibits the federal government from ...
Safeguards of justice
Fourth amendment (1791)
The Fourth Amendment protects people against ...
and so on. My only concern with this is that it would make the table of contents much longer than it is now. Drdpw (talk) 19:50, 31 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes, that's about it, except that each article or amendment should have a terse description appended (Art. I - Establishes the legislative branch, Amend. I - Protects freedom of religion and speech, etc.). The point is taken about the table of contents becoming lengthy, especially as it is now fairly balanced with the infobox's length (I don't suppose there's a way to make the TOC multi-columnar). However, I think it's important to have the constituent parts briefly summarized, which I, of course, am willing to help with the doing of. Dhtwiki (talk) 20:57, 31 August 2014 (UTC)
That blackout of boldface is really poor composition, never mind bad encyclopedic style. Again, a proposal to make a substantial part of the article a mirror of a list article violates the WP:MOS. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 01:38, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── What does "blackout of boldface" mean? The proposed sub-headings are boldfaced to simulate how they'd look as subheadings. Boldface would not be used in actuality. And where does it say that it's bad encyclopedic style to have extra sub-headings, which don't really mirror anything, since nowhere else would there be the succinct characterizations of the amendments? However, to keep the table of contents from being grotesquely lengthened, I propose that merely the amendment numbers be included in the current topical sub-headings. So, you would have...

  • Safeguards of liberty (I, II, III)

...or, somewhat different stylistically...

  • Citizenship and voting: amendments 13, 15, 19, 23, 24, 26

Dhtwiki (talk) 12:24, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

That looks more reasonable...I would argue for it. The links individual amendment names are to show in blue as The First Amendment, that is sufficient highlighting. Perhaps to distinguish the Articles from the Amendments, the subtopics can be styled,
Individual Liberty (Amendments I, II, III)
The first three amendments safeguard individual liberties. The First Amendment (1791) prohibits Congress from obstructing the exercise of certain individual freedoms: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of petition...
The Second Amendment (1791) protects the right of individuals[n] to keep and bear arms...
The Third Amendment (1791) prohibits the federal government from forcing individuals to provide lodging to soldiers in their homes during peacetime without their consent...
Legal protections (Amendments IV, V, VI, VII, VIII)
The amendments 4-8 offer legal protections by the federal judicial system. The Fourth Amendment (1791) protects people against unreasonable searches and seizures of either self or property by government officials....
I also concur with Safeguards of Liberty (1, 2, 3) as a subsection header style showing up in the table of contents. I object to the boldface name of each and every amendment in addition to the boldface subheading and the linked amendment name, so I have tried to give an example of the format I favor in this posting. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 13:22, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
I'll add the numeration so we can see what it looks like. Drdpw (talk) 15:29, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 31 August 2014[edit]

I recently viewed at least 5 accounts of Religious notations, God and "In God We Trust" being stated on this Factual account of the United States Constitution as true and factual accounts and quotes from the founding fathers who wrote and signed it. Those have all been removed, might I ask why? It is not opinion, when stating fact, why remove it? I would like to see the facts put back in place about the fact that our country was founded Under God by a bunch of Christians. I do not want this due to any other reason than to keep the facts in place. I do not subscribe to any one religion, but facts are facts and should remain in place for historical factual accounting. I have collected data and facts from Presidential quotes available at .gov and other reputable websites and would like some of them placed on this page since they are facts and accounts of this time, when the constitution was signed, plus continuing accounts of stating God as a part of Government belief. What are your requirements to include these facts? I would like to request a section be placed on this page to answer all queries from people now-a-days who do not have the facts straight about how the USA was founded by Christians and God fearing men. Here are some quotes that I feel should be placed in the section "Religious Men who were a part of developing and signing the constitution as well as other quotes about God and Religion by politicians in the USA".

Below are some of the thousands of quotes endorsing God in government by our Founding Fathers and others in American history. American children have prayed and read the Holy Bible in schools for 355 years (1607 – 1962), Congress recommended Bibles for America and funded Christian missionaries, the third verse of our national anthem says, “And this be our motto, ‘In God is our trust”.

George Washington - First President of the United States of America

“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.” - George Washington

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable.” - George Washington

We beseech God to pardon our national and other transgressions… - George Washington, Thanksgiving Proclamation 1789

True religion affords to government its surest support. - George Washington

It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. - George Washington (this quote is unconfirmed)

Samuel Adams - Signer of the Declaration of Independence

I … [rely] upon the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins. - Samuel Adams

We have this day [Fourth of July] restored the Sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His Kingdom come. - Samuel Adams

The name of the Lord (says the Scripture) is a strong tower; thither the righteous flee and are safe (Proverbs 18:10). Let us secure His favor and He will lead us through the journey of this life and at length receive us to a better. - Samuel Adams

The rights of the colonists as Christians…may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the institutes of the Great Law Giver and Head of the Christian Church, which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New Testament. - Samuel Adams

United States Congressional Endorsement of the Bible and God

Congress printed a Bible for America and said:

“The United States in Congress assembled … recommend this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States … a neat edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools.” - United States Congress 1782

Congress passed this resolution:

“The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.” - United States Congress 1782

By Law the United States Congress adds to US coinage:

“In God We Trust” - United States Congress 1864

John Adams -President of the United States of America, First Vice President, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, Signer of the Bill of Rights, and Signer of First Amendment

The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity. - John Adams

The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God. - John Adams

The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity. - John Adams

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. - John Adams

I have examined all religions, and the result is that the Bible is the best book in the world. - John Adams

The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity. - John Adams

[The Fourth of July] ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. - John Adams

As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him. - John Adams

Patrick Henry - Early America Leader

There is a book [the Bible] worth all the other books ever printed. - Patrick Henry

John Jay - First Chief-Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is their duty – as well as privilege and interest – of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers. - John Jay

The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts. - John Jay

John Hancock – Signer of the Declaration of Independence

…that all may bow to the scepter of our Lord Jesus Christ and that the whole Earth may be filled with his glory. - John Hancock, as Governor of Massachusetts 1791

Benjamin Franklin

“Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” - Benjamin Franklin

Thomas Jeferson – President

God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever. - Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson Memorial

The Christian religion is the best religion that has ever been given to man - Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson Memorial

Daniel Webster – Early American Politician

Education is useless without the Bible. - Daniel Webster

Noah Webster - “Schoolmaster of the Republic”

Education is useless without the Bible. The Bible was America’s basic text book in all fields. God’s Word, contained in the Bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct. - Noah Webster

In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed … No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people. - Noah Webster, Preface Noah Webster Dictionary, 1828

Joseph Story – Supreme Court Justice

“I verily believe Christianity necessary to the support of civil society. One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law … There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying its foundations.” - Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, Harvard Speech, 1829

United States of America National Anthem - Francis Scott Key

“And this be our motto, ‘In God is our trust’” - USA National Anthem, Third Verse

USA Constitution – First Amendment

“Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth…” - US Constitution, Before signature text declaring our Christian Nation

Note: “Year of our Lord” means Jesus Christ is Lord of the USA. (Founding fathers didn’t use year of the Lord)

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion Christian denomination, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” - US Constitution, First Amendment (Christian religious freedom brackets added)

Andrew Jackson – President of the United States of America

“The Bible is the rock on which our Republic rests.”

- Andrew Jackson

Abraham Lincoln – President of the United States of America

In regards to this great Book [the Bible], I have but to say it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this Book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are found portrayed in it. - Abraham Lincoln

I am busily engaged in study of the Bible. - Abraham Lincoln

This nation under God - Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address and inscribed on Lincoln Memorial

And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God … and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord. - Abraham Lincoln

Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh. (Matthew 18:7) - Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln Memorial

We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution. - Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln Memorial

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation… - Abraham Lincoln

“Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulties.” - Abraham Lincoln, President, March 4, 1861 inaugural address

United States Supreme Court

“This is a Christian nation” - United States Supreme Court Decision in Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 1892

“Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian…This is a Christian nation” - United States Supreme Court Decision in Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 1892

Washington Monument

Holiness to the Lord (Exodus 28:26, 30:30, Isaiah 23:18, Zechariah 14:20) - Washington Monument

Search the Scriptures (John 5:39) - Washington Monument

The memory of the just is blessed (Proverbs 10:7) - Washington Monument

May Heaven to this Union continue its beneficence - Washington Monument

In God We Trust - Washington Monument

“Praise be to God” (engraved on the monument’s capstone in Latin as “Laus Deo”) - Washington Monument

James Madison – A Primary Author of the Constitution of the United States of America

“We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.” - James Madison

“Religion is the basis and foundation of Government” - James Madison

“Cursed be all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.” - James Madison

Northwest Ordinance - July 13, 1787

Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. - Northwest Ordinance, Article 3

Original Harvard University Student Handbook 1636

Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well: the main end of his life and studies is “to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life” (John 17.3), and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let everyone seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of Him (Prov. 2.3). - Original Harvard University Student Handbook

William McGuffy – author of McGuffy Reader, which was used for over 100 years in American schools as the primary textbook

The Christian religion is the religion of our country. From it are derived our nation, on the character of God, on the great moral Governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free Institutions. From no source has this author drawn more conspicuously than from the sacred Scriptures. From all these extracts from the Bible, I make no apology. - William McGuffy, author of McGuffy Reader

Congress – First Prayer in Congress

O LORD, OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, high and mighty King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, who dost from Thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth, and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the kingdoms, empires and governments; look down in mercy we beseech Thee, on these American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor, and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring henceforth to be dependent only on Thee; to Thee they have appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support which Thou alone canst give; take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious design of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their cause; and if they persist in their sanguinary purpose, O let the voice of Thy own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle! Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the counsels of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation, that the scene of blood may be speedily closed, that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety prevail and flourish among Thy people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them, and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world, and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Our Savior. Amen.

- First Prayer in Congress September 7, 1774, Jacob Duche, Carpenters Hall, Philadelphia

Calvin Coolidge- President of the United States of America

“The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country.” - Calvin Coolidge

Harry S. Truman – President of the United States of America

“The fundamental basis of this Nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul.” - Harry S. Truman

“This Nation was established by men who believed in God. … You will see the evidence of this deep religious faith on every hand.’ - Harry S. Truman

Dwight D. Eisenhower – President of the United States of America

“Without God there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic, expression of Americanism. Thus, the founding fathers of America saw it, and thus with God’s help, it will continue to be.” - Dwight D. Eisenhower

“I believe that the next half century will determine if we will advance the cause of Christian civilization or revert to the horrors of brutal paganism.” - Theodore Roosevelt, President

“This is a Christian nation.” - Harry Truman, President

“[The United States is] founded on the principles of Christianity” - Franklin D. Roosevelt, President

Ronald Reagan – President of the United States of America

Of the many influences that have shaped the United States into a distinctive nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible. - Ronald Reagan

Deep religious beliefs stemming from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible inspired many of the early settlers of our country, providing them with the strength, character, convictions, and faith necessary to withstand great hardship and danger in this new and rugged land. These shared beliefs helped forge a sense of common purpose among the widely dispersed colonies — a sense of community which laid the foundation for the spirit of nationhood that was to develop in later decades. - Ronald Reagan

The Bible and its teachings helped form the basis for the Founding Fathers’ abiding belief in the inalienable rights of the individual, rights which they found implicit in the Bible’s teachings of the inherent worth and dignity of each individual. This same sense of man patterned the convictions of those who framed the English system of law inherited by our own Nation, as well as the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. - Ronald Reagan

For centuries the Bible’s emphasis on compassion and love for our neighbor has inspired institutional and governmental expressions of benevolent outreach such as private charity, the establishment of schools and hospitals, and the abolition of slavery. - Ronald Reagan

“The Congress of the United States, in recognition of the unique contribution of the Bible in shaping the history and character of this Nation, and so many of its citizens, has by Senate Joint Resolution 165 authorized and requested the President to designate the year 1983 as the ‘Year of the Bible.’”‘ - Ronald Reagan

Inside the Bible’s pages lie the answers to all the problems that mankind has ever known. I hope Americans will read and study the Bible. - Ronald Reagan

Is any of this addition possible for the facts to be confirmed that some politicians in history of the Constitution and USA political parties were and still are Christians. 2601:0:780:E7:ADDA:FEEC:8796:2BEC (talk) 23:54, 31 August 2014 (UTC)

Red information icon with gradient background.svg Not done: please establish a consensus for this alteration before using the {{edit semi-protected}} template. Based on your message it looks like you are asking for thoughts on this matter. Also, in the future please shorten your requests to a "change X to Y" format. I will also say that Wikipedia should only write about information that has already discussed by others in reliable sources. Wikipedia does not synthesize primary sources to advance a point of view. Do you have any secondary reliable sources that verify the information you would like added? Mz7 (talk) 04:28, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
The founding fathers certainly agreed that the tenets held in common by the Christian sects were the foundation of the personal virtue in society required for a successful large-scale republic. And the church structures which allowed a “priesthood of all believers” to actively participate in governance in the Calvinist traditions was certainly important in the structures of governance instituted at the founding.
Appeals to those sensibilities at the founding were requisite to persuade majorities to get anything done among the democratic branches of government. If it is the case as John Adams said, "The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity.”, it is also true that members of all religions prosper here under a tolerant regime, allowing for each, their contributions of wisdom and virtue in the civil sphere.
It is not that faith is of no importance, it is that here it is of such great importance that no man or creation of man can be allowed to interfere with individual conscience and its individual relationship with the Creator. In the modern day, that is often translated as removing any reference to any contemplated form of superior being outside the self. But it need not be so, especially in the History of the United States Constitution article, where it may be more appropriate to explore the belief and character of the founders. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 11:38, 1 September 2014 (UTC)

Half the intro is about amendments[edit]

Seems to me the paragraph could be improved by losing half or a quarter of it. Jim.henderson (talk) 11:43, 19 September 2014 (UTC)

Agreed. Without changing the sense, I copy edited for conciseness, leaving all links and references in tact. The attempt is as follows:
Since the Constitution came into force in 1789, it has been amended twenty-seven times.[2] In general, the first ten amendments, known collectively as the Bill of Rights protect individual liberty and justice, and safeguard a balance between the federal government, states and the people within. The majority of the seventeen later amendments expand individual civil rights. Others address issues related to federal authority or modify government processes and procedures. Amendments to the US Constitution, unlike ones made to many constitutions world-wide, are appended to the end of the document. At seven articles and twenty-seven amendments, it is the shortest written constitution in force.[3]
This copy edit is meant only as a first draft. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 14:53, 19 September 2014 (UTC)
Nicely done TVH. One point though; in the 2nd sentence above, I think something needs to be added to identify what (the balance of what) is being safeguarded. I'll leave the phrasing to you, but here's sort-of what I was thinking ...
...and safeguard the political power sharing arrangement between the federal government, states and the people within. OR ...and safeguard the shared sovereignty of the federal government, states and the people within. OR ...and safeguard federalism. Drdpw (talk) 19:31, 19 September 2014 (UTC)
I chose "safeguard federalism" and moved Dhtwiki's sentence from the article summary into the section "Ratified Amendments" lead intro per Dhtwiki's edit summary, "replacing what seems legitimately informative, rather than mere excess verbiage, although it might not have to be in the lead", the sentence being"
Structurally, the Constitution's original text and all prior amendments remain untouched. The precedent for this practice was set in 1789, when Congress considered and proposed the first several Constitutional amendments.
Hope that answers the mail. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 20:59, 19 September 2014 (UTC)
Splendidly. The whole world, or anyway the whole Wikipedia, ought to be like this, full of smarter people than me who take my suggestions. Jim.henderson (talk) 01:14, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

Intro characterizing First Ten Amendments[edit]

The first ten amendments "preserve federalism as a balance among the federal government, states and the people within", they are not limited to restraining the federal government, especially the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, but in any case, all do not proscribe the federal government alone, "Congress shall make no law". TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 19:17, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

As later amendments and the Supreme Court, through the doctrine of incorporation, have extend the scope of many parts of the Bill of Rights to cover the power exercised by state and local governments, I've modified my edit from earlier today and offered citations for my choice of words. Drdpw (talk) 00:19, 23 September 2014 (UTC)
It seems POV to cherry pick sources to imply the Founders did not limit the sovereignty of the states in the Constitution or its amendments. Although I suppose it is enough to say it reflects the thinking of post-Civil War Jefferson Davis in his "Rise and Fall of the Confederate States of America". I do not think balance is being preserved, but if it is good enough for a high school curriculum, it may be good enough here. TheVirginiaHistorian (talk) 11:26, 23 September 2014 (UTC)