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Constitution Day: September 17th

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence [sic], promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America....

For some, the language of the Preamble to the Constitution is inspiring. For others, it offers promises broken or unfulfilled. What exactly does this document secure, and for whom? How have time and circumstance shaped, and been shaped by, these ideals?

Today, as an educational institution that receives federal funding, students, staff, and faculty at Trinity University have the opportunity to take a more critical look at this founding document. Consider the books, videos, websites, and journal articles here an invitation to a deeper understanding, with a particular focus on the 14th Amendment.

As this year's Constitution Day coincides with an important election year, head over to the voting guide for information on registering and voting in this year's election.

Equal Protection: Documents Decoded

"This book closely examines the history and development of the Equal Protection Clause and details the many ways in which it has shaped U.S. history. Selections show how the equal protection clause came into being in the post-Civil War era; feature seminal Supreme Court decisions on the nature and extent of applications of the equal protection clause in American life and law through the years; and include documents that consider the impact that the equal protection clause has had and may have on American society in the 21st century."

Suffrage Reconstructed: Gender, Race, and Voting Rights in the Civil War Era

"By integrating gender analysis and political history, Suffrage Reconstructed offers a new interpretation of the Civil War–era remaking of American democracy, placing African American activists and women’s rights advocates at the heart of nineteenth-century American conversations about public policy, civil rights, and the franchise."

Jefferson, Madison, and the Making of the Constitution

"Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, and James Madison, 'Father of the Constitution,' were two of the most important Founders of the United States as well as the closest of political allies. Yet historians have often seen a tension between the idealistic rhetoric of the Declaration and the more pedestrian language of the Constitution. Moreover, to some, the adoption of the Constitution represented a repudiation of the democratic values of the Revolution."

Original Intent: The Battle for America

You have probably heard the phrase "original intent" in relation to the Constitution. What does it mean, and how is it being used today in courts and legislation? This award-winning film helps contextualize and explore the rise of this term and its implications today.

Ballots and Bullets:The Exceptional History of the Right to Vote

Use the library's HeinOnline legal database to access this article on voting history as well as other legal scholarship as well as extensive government document collection.

'We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident...': An Interdisciplinary Analysis of the Roots of Racism and Slavery in America

"This book is intended help the reader understand how the United States, a nation that claims 'all men are created equal,' could be responsible for slavery and the intractable threads of racism and inequality that have become woven into its cultural the fabric."

Citizens and Others: The Constitution of Citizenship through Exclusion

Use the library's JSTOR database to access this article on the ways in "citizenship has been understood, examine its dominant intellectual genealogy, and address its deeper racialized structures."