Category: Law, The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
When Judge John Sirica gaveled the trial of the Watergate seven to order on January 8, 1973, federal investigators had already discovered a covert slush fund used to underwrite nefarious activities against Democrats. The money and the men on trial could be linked to the Committee to Re-elect the President (CRP) at whose head sat the former Attorney General of the United States, and President Nixon’s former law partner, John Mitchell. At the trial, E. Howard Hunt, who had planned the break-in, and four of the burglars pleaded guilty. G. Gordon Liddy, who helped in the planning, and James McCord, the other burglar, refused to cooperate, were convicted of various charges, and sentenced to prison.
Since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, our rights as citizens of the United States have been debated, contested, amended, and documented. The Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, established our basic civil rights. Later amendments and court decisions have continued the process of defining our human and civil rights. Documents in the National Archives give voice to our national struggle for personal rights and freedoms. From the Emancipation Proclamation to the five cases that comprised Brown v. Board of Education , this exhibit features a sampling of documents from all regions of the National Archives.
The Federal Convention convened in the State House (Independence Hall) in Philadelphia on May 14, 1787, to revise the Articles of Confederation. Because the delegations from only two states were at first present, the members adjourned from day to day until a quorum of seven states was obtained on May 25. Through discussion and debate it became clear by mid-June that, rather than amend the existing Articles, the Convention would draft an entirely new frame of government. All through the summer, in closed sessions, the delegates debated, and redrafted the articles of the new Constitution.