This customized six-frame set contains the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. They are designed to hang on the wall and come with –
- parchment paper (high-end)
- wood frames (legal size)
- glass panes
They contain the same words, spelling (and occasional misspellings), punctuation, capitalization, etc., as the originals. They've just been carefully reformatted into a modern font (versus old-style calligraphy) to make them easier to read. Each document has the identical signers in the same columns or positions as the originals—they're just italicized names instead of signatures (which sometimes can be hard to read) to easily identify who signed them.
The layouts have been stylized to reflect the look of the originals, with certain calligraphic elements retained such as in the heading and certain words or phrases in the Declaration of Independence (e.g., "united States of America" and "Free and Independent States"), and in the preamble and closing endorsement of the Constitution, where more ornate lettering was used and made to look darker.
Of note, the original Bill of Rights document never actually contained the words "Bill of Rights." It simply outlined 12 "proposed" amendments to the Constitution as "Article the first.....", "Article the second.....", "Article the third.....", etc., for the states to consider ratifying. But the first (revising the math on the number of members in the House of Representatives) was never ratified and the second not till 1992 when it became the 27th Amendment. So "Article the third....." was relabeled "Amendment I", "Article the fourth....." "Amendment II" and so on to precisely correspond to the first ten constitutional amendments representing our present-day Bill of Rights. This was the only modification to the text of the document.
Declaration of Independence
Written in 1776, the Declaration of Independence has been referred to as the "soul of our country." Without the Declaration of Independence, there is no United States, there is no Constitution. While Thomas Paine greatly influenced public support for independence, the declaration itself was written by Thomas Jefferson, with input from John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and other Continental Congress patriots. It details in fair-minded, inspired prose the long history of abuses and injustices suffered by the American colonies under Great Britain's King George III and why, reluctantly, they could no longer be subject to the British Crown. At the peril of committing treason, 56 courageous men then signed the document.
Decades later, Abraham Lincoln advocated strongly that the principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence should serve as the moral compass by which the Constitution is interpreted.
The Americans won the Revolutionary War, and a promising nation was born. But George Washington soon observed the states seemed bound together by a "rope of sand," and others like Alexander Hamilton agreed. For the battle not to have been in vain, for the new republic's "great experiment" in free self-governance to last, a stronger frame of government was needed. To that end, a group of men gathered for a "Constitutional Convention" in 1787 presided over by Washington and comprising arguably some of the wisest, most intelligent, educated and experienced statesmen ever assembled. James Madison drafted the general framework, and through a series of animated debates, revisions and compromises, a workable document emerged, some say miraculously, in just four months that is our present-day Constitution.
Bill of Rights
In the Constitutional Convention's push to strengthen the federal government to preserve the union, some felt the pendulum swung too far by not explicitly safeguarding individual and state rights. Acutely mindful of the recent struggle to "throw off" tyrannical government, many states would not ratify the Constitution without the assurance of a Bill of Rights. In response, James Madison set out to correct this oversight by drafting one which included provisions for the freedom of religion and speech, the right to bear arms, the right to due process and a speedy trial before an impartial jury and so forth. Approved by the very first United States Congress and submitted to the states as promised, ten constitutional amendments became ratified in 1791 commonly known today as the Bill of Rights.