Celebrate Constitution Day with us by reading this very special Guest Post by longtime OTI Reader Geoffrey Wessel!
Today, September 17th, I’d like to wish a happy Constitution Day to readers in the United States. On this day in 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed a document that would become the supreme law of the land in the world’s first modern democracy. These delegates, including George Washington, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin, were luminaries of their time and cultural heroes to this day. American politicians even continue to reference Franklin’s statement on that day: “I consent, sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best.”
While “first modern democracy” is probably an accurate description, the ancient world offers several prior examples of forays into democratic governance, with varying levels of success. Athenian democracy in particular served as one of the many sources of inspiration for the drafters of the U.S. Constitution. Solon, the great lawgiver of Athens, created a set of laws for the city-state in the early sixth century BCE. After promulgating the Law and binding the people by solemn oaths to abide by them, as recounted by Herodotus, Solon left Athens for ten years so that the people could not induce him to change the laws. He already sounds like a pretty impressive statesman, but get this: Solon was also a poet, and his entire constitution was written in verse.
Discovering that fact inspired me to “translate” the Constitution of the United States into the most representative poetic form of the English language: unrhymed iambic pentameter, or blank verse. This is the meter of the sonnet, the plays of Shakespeare, and the unsurpassed and unsurpassable greatest work of literature in any language, ever. An iamb is a metrical foot consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable – “buh-BUMP.” Pentameter means five iambs in each line. So a sentence like If frogs had wings, they wouldn’t need to hop is a line of iambic pentameter.
The 1787 Constitutional Convention lasted almost exactly four months; this project took me five, by the end of which I was doing very little else in my free time. The first roadblock was the impossibility of getting anything to rhyme, even one or two key passages for emphasis. I gave up that idea completely within the first day. I also quickly gave myself leeway to employ any of the legerdemain used by Shakespeare and Marlowe: feminine endings (finishing off a line with an extra unstressed syllable), elision of short words like “the” and “to” to save a syllable, trochaic substitution at the beginning of a line (a trochee being the reverse of an iamb: stressed followed by unstressed). I had the good fortune of having several friends who were willing to contribute suggestions, to review the work line-by-line and catch more than a few mistakes, and to offer encouragement and support.
I am not a lawyer, but my respect for the document made me very concerned to preserve as much as possible the exact nuances of meaning in the original Constitution. When this proved difficult, I agonized over even the minutest loss of specificity. In one passage, for example, the original specifies “both… the President and Vice President,” which I was forced to translate into “the government’s two highest Offices” – functionally equivalent, but with a distinct and potentially important difference in the exact language. A few such distortions were inevitable, though, and for that reason readers are cautioned not to consider this poetic version of the Constitution to be a legal document in the way the original is. So just be sure to have a copy of the authentic version when want to quote it in court. (Note, also, that some parts were later eliminated or altered by 27 subsequent amendments, of which I have included only the first ten – the “Bill of Rights,” ratified shortly after the Constitution itself.)
To be honest, much of the translation work was a slog. After the thrill of poetizing the soaring rhetoric of the Preamble (a truly inspiring prose passage that reads, I think, pretty well in verse too), several pages of administrative technicalities seemed like a pretty thankless job. I have a particularly nasty memory of the section of Article I that lists how many Representatives each state will have prior to the first national census; wrestling the names of the states into the formal confines of the meter gave me some serious headaches. Still, though, there were some good times as well. In particular, when I reached the part of Article II that describes the Oath of Office of the President, I was pleased that I did finally manage to work in at least one rhyming couplet, having the President swear to “Preserve, protect and guard in every way / The Constitution of the U.S.A.”
Despite the many challenges, and despite not really having any idea what I was doing it for, I kept going and eventually held in my laptop the document that you are about to read. And why? Why wouldn’t I just give up and go back to watching Seinfeld reruns? Well, because really, at the end of the day, could we let a bunch of ancient Greeks get away with more style points than Our Founding Fathers? I think you know the answer to that – this is Amurrica! Eight seven two! Eight seven two!
The Constitution of the United States, in Iambic Pentameter
Now we, the people of the United States,
In order to perfect our union more,
Establish Justice, and insure within
Our borders maximum tranquility,
Promote the welfare of our citizens, 
And get the blessings liberty bestows,
For us and for our daughters and our sons,
Ordain and do establish here and now
This Constitution for the U.S.A.
All legislative Powers herein granted 
Shall be invested in a U.S. Congress;
That Congress shall consist of, first, a Senate,
And, second, House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives shall be
Composed of Members which the People of
The several States shall choose each second year;
Electors in a given State shall meet
Whatever the requirements shall be
To be elected to the largest Branch
Of that State’s Legislature. Furthermore, 
No Person less than five and twenty years
Of age shall be a Representative,
Or less than seven years a citizen
Of these United States, or who shall not,
Be, when elected, an inhabitant
Of that same State in which he shall be chosen.
Among the several States within this Union
Shall be apportioned Representatives,
Direct taxation also, based upon
Their Numbers, which shall be established as 
The sum of all free Persons, even those
To Service bound for any Term of Years,
But not including Indians not taxed,
And three in five of any other Persons.
The real Enumeration shall be made
Within the three years starting on the date
On which the U.S. Congress first shall meet,
And yet again within each ten-year term
To follow that, in such a Manner as
They shall by Law direct. No State may have, 
In all, more Representatives than one
Per thirty thousand people, but each State
Shall have at least one Representative.
Until the real enumeration’s made,
The States shall be entitled to these numbers:
New Hampshire, three; and Massachusetts, eight;
Rhode Island, only one; Connecticut,
The five it chooses; New York, six; New Jersey,
Its choice of four; and Pennsylvania, eight;
Just one for Delaware; for Mar’land, six; 
Virginia, ten; North Carolina, five;
South Carolina, five; and Georgia, three.
If any State shall have a vacant post
Of Representative at any time,
That State’s Executive Authority
Shall issue then Election Writs to fill them.
The House of Representatives shall choose
Their Speaker and their other Officers
And also have the sole Impeachment power.
The Legislature of each State shall choose 
Two Senators, to serve for six-year terms;
The Senate thus shall be composed of all
These Senators, and each shall have one vote.
Upon their first Election and assembly,
The Senators shall split into three groups
As equal as is possible in number.
The first group shall in two years’ time vacate
Their Seats within the Senate; two years later,
The second group shall do the same, and then,
The third group two years after that, and so 
Each second year one third may be re-chosen.
If Vacancies occur by Resignation,
Or else for any other reason, during
The Recess of the Legislature of
A State, then its Executive may then
Appoint a temporary Senator
To serve until the Legislature meets,
At which time it shall fill such Vacancies.
No Person who, in age, is any less
Than thirty years shall be a Senator, 
Or less than nine years’ time a Citizen
Of these United States, or who shall not
Be, when elected, an Inhabitant
Of that same State for which he shall be chosen.
The USA’s Vice President shall be
The Senate’s President, who shall not have
A Vote, unless it be to break a tie.
The Senate’s other Officers shall all
Be chosen by the Senate, and include
A President pro tem., for cases when 
Its President is absent, or must serve
As President of the United States.
The Power of the trying of Impeachments
The Senate shall exclusively maintain;
When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be
On Oath or Affirmation. At a trial
Of any U.S. President shall preside the
Chief Justice; and there shall be no
Conviction in the absence of Concurrence
Of two thirds of the Members present there. 
In Cases of Impeachment, any Judgment
Shall not extend to more than the removal
From Office of the Party being tried
And banning from all rights to future Offices
Of Honor, Trust or Profit under the
United States; however, Parties who
Are in this way convicted shall remain
Both liable and subject to Indictment,
And Trial, Judgment, and such Punishment
As any Laws which may apply entail. 
The Places, Times and Manner to be used
To hold Elections, both for Senators
And Representatives, shall be prescribed
In each State by its Legislature; but
The Congress may at any time by Law
Create or alter any Regulations
Pertaining to such things, excepting those
About the Place of choosing Senators.
The Congress shall assemble in each Year
At least one time, and that upon the first 
December Monday of the year, unless
They shall by Law appoint a different Day.
Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections,
Returns, and Fitness for their Offices
Of its own Members, and of each a full
Majority shall constitute a Quorum,
Required to do Business; nonetheless,
A smaller number may adjourn from day
To day, and may be authorized as well
To force attendance of whichever Members 
Are absent, in such Manner, and applying
Such Penalties as each House may provide.
Each House may also for itself determine
The Rules of its Proceedings; Members may
Be punished for disorderly Behaviour
Or, with two-thirds Concurrence, be expelled.
Each House shall keep of all of its Proceedings
A Journal, which they will from time to time
Make public, leaving out such Parts as may
Demand, in their opinion, Secrecy. 
At either House, one fifth of Members present
Shall have, at their desire, the “Yeas” and “Nays”
Of all the Members entered on the Journal.
At any time the Congress is in Session,
Unless the other House give their consent,
Each House shall not adjourn for any time
In excess of three days, and furthermore,
Shall not adjourn to any other Place
Than that in which both Houses shall be sitting.
The Senators and Representatives 
Shall each receive a Compensation for
Their Services as such, which shall be set
By Law, and which the U.S. Treasury
Shall then have charge of paying out to them.
They also, while attending at the Session
Of their respective Houses, and in going
Both to and from the same, shall be exempt from
Arrest, except in case of Felony,
Breach of the Peace, and Treason; also, they
Shall not for any Speech in either House 
In any other place submit to questions.
No Senator or Representative
Shall, during all the Time for which he was
Elected, simultaneously be
Appointed to a civil U.S. Office
Created in that time, or one for which
The Compensation shall have been increased;
No Person holding any U.S. Office
Shall, during his Continuance in Office
Take on a membership in either House. 
All bills for raising Revenue shall be
Originated first within the House
Of Representatives; but still, the Senate
May, in response, propose or else concur with
Amendments to them, as on other Bills.
Each Bill which shall have passed both Houses shall,
Before it can become a Law, be sent
Before the U.S. President, who shall,
If he approve, append his signature;
If otherwise, along with his Objections 
He shall return it to that House in which
It shall have first originated, then,
That House first having entered on their Journal
The President’s Objections to the bill,
They shall proceed to reconsider it.
If after such a Reconsideration
Two thirds agree to pass the Bill again,
The Bill and the Objections shall be sent
From that House to the other, which shall then
Proceed to reconsider it as well, 
And if two thirds of them approve it too,
The bill shall then become a Law. However,
In all such Cases, both the Houses shall
Determine all their Votes by Yeas and Nays,
And enter on their Journal both the names
Of those who vote in favor of the bill
And those who vote, if any do, against.
And also, if the President shall fail
To send a Bill, with his Objections, back to
The Congress in the span of ten Days’ time 
(Excepting Sundays) from the day when he
Receives it, then that same bill shall
Be made a Law, as if it had been signed,
Unless the Congress by Adjournment block
The Bill’s return – then shall it not be Law.
In every case in which the Senate and
The House of Representatives must both
Concur to some joint Order, Resolution,
Or Vote, except on questions of Adjournment,
Before the Same shall take effect they shall 
Present it to the U.S. President,
And if the President does not approve it,
Both Houses must re-pass it by two thirds
According to the Rules and Limitations
Prescribed herein for use in passing Bills.
The Congress shall have power to enact
Such Legislation as concerns: for one,
The laying and collecting of such Taxes
And Duties, Imposts and Excises needed
To pay the Debts and make provisions for 
Defense and general Welfare of the States;
But any Duties, Imposts and Excises
Shall be the same throughout the U.S.A;
Second, the borrowing of money on
The credit of the U.S.A.; and, third,
The regulation of all Commerce with
The Indian Tribes, and foreign Nations, and
Among the several States; and also, fourth,
Establishment of universal Rules
For Naturalization, and of Laws 
For Bankruptcies throughout the U.S.A.;
And fifth, the coining of the nation’s Money,
And regulation of its Value and
Of Foreign coin, and fixing Weights and Measures;
And sixth, the fate of counterfeiters of
U.S. Securities and current Coin;
Seventh, establishment of Postal Roads
And Offices; and eighth, promotion of
The useful Arts and Science, by securing
For certain Times to Authors and Inventors 
Exclusive Right to products of their work;
Ninthly, the constitution of Tribunals
Inferior to the supreme Court; tenth,
The definition and the punishment
Of Piracies and Felonies committed
Upon the Sea, against the Law of Nations;
Eleventh, any declaration of War,
And Letters of Reprisal and of Marque,
And rules concerning Land and Naval Captures;
As well, the raising and support of Armies, 
But no Appropriation to that Use
Shall be for more than two Years’ Term; thirteenth,
The building and maintaining of a Navy;
Fourteenth, the Rules for Government of Land
And Naval Forces, and their Regulation;
Fifteenth, the calling forth of the Militia
To execute the Union’s Laws, repel
Invasions, and suppress Revolts; sixteenth,
The organizing of the same Militia,
Their arming and their disciplining, and 
The governing of such a part of them
As shall be in the U.S.A.’s employ,
Reserving to the States respectively,
Their Officers’ Appointments, and the right
To train them, as the Congress shall prescribe;
And seventeenth, exclusive legislation
In every Case, in such a place as may,
By Cession of some State or States, and by 
The Congress’s acceptance, be selected
To be the Seat of U.S. Government,
And likewise in all Places which the Congress,
With full consent of that State’s Legislature
Wherein the Same shall be, shall purchase for
Erection of such Magazines and Forts,
And Arsenals and dock-Yards as are needful.
Additionally, Congress shall retain
The right to make all necessary Laws
For carrying into execution all 
Foregoing Powers, and all other Powers
This Constitution grants the Government
Of the United States, and its Departments.
Before the Year one thousand eight-oh-eight,
The Congress shall not make a law against
The Importation or Migration of
Such Persons as existing States shall mandate,
But may impose a Tax or duty on
Such Importation, up to ten dollars each.
The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus 
Shall always be upheld, unless in Cases
Of Rebels or Invaders, public Safety
May any time require its suspension.
The Congress shall, in legislating, pass
No ex post facto Law or Bill of Attainder.
No direct Tax or capitation shall
Be laid that is not in Proportion to
The Census which was hereabove directed.
No Tax or Duty shall be laid on exports
Of any Articles from any State. 
Commercial Regulation shall not give
A Preference to the Ports of any State
Over the Ports of any other; nor
Shall Vessels travelling to or from one State
Be forced to clear or enter, or obliged
To pay a Duty in or to, another.
Withdrawals made upon the Treasury
Shall only be in Consequence of such
Directives as the Congress makes by Law;
A Statement and Account of the Receipts 
And Spending of all public Money shall
From time to time be regularly published.
No Title of Nobility shall be
Conferred by the United States, and no-one
In any Office under them of Trust
Or Profit shall accept of any present,
Emolument or Title, all-inclusive,
From any King or Prince or foreign State
Unless the Congress first shall have consented.
No State shall enter into any Treaty, 
Alliance, or Confederation; grant
A Letter of Reprisal or of Marque;
Coin Money; send out Bills of Credit; pay
Its Debts in any Coin but gold and silver;
Pass any Bill of Attainder, any Law
Impairing the Contractual Obligation,
Or any ex post facto Law. No State
Shall grant a Title of Nobility.
No State, without Consent of Congress, shall
On Imports or on Exports lay Imposts 
Or Duties, other than such levies as
Are absolutely necessary for
The execution of that State’s inspection Laws.
The net Production of all such Imposts
And Duties, laid by any State, shall be
Remanded to the U.S. Treasury;
And all such Laws shall be made subject to
Congressional Revision and Control.
No State, without Consent of Congress, shall
Lay any Tonnage duty, maintain Troops, 
Or Ships of War in time of Peace, agree
To any Compact or Agreement with
Another State, or with a foreign Power,
Or in a War engage, unless invaded
Or in such Danger as precludes delay.
The power of the executive shall be
Invested in a U.S. President.
Vice-Presidents and Presidents shall be
Elected for concurrent four-year Terms
Together with each other, as below: 
The Legislature of each State shall choose
A Manner for appointing some Electors
In Number equal to the total sum
Of Senators and Representatives
To which the State may be entitled in
The Congress: but no Representative
Or Senator, or Person holding Office
Of Trust or Profit for the U.S.A.
Shall be appointed one of these Electors.
Once chosen, these Electors all shall meet 
In their respective States, and each shall vote
By Ballot for one person who shall not
Inhabit the Elector’s state, and also
One other person, who, however, may
Reside in any State. And they shall make
A List of all the Persons voted for,
Which shall enumerate the total Number
Of Votes for every Person voted for,
And which they all shall sign and certify
And seal, and transmit thusly to the Seat of 
The Government of the United States,
Directed to the Senate’s President,
Who shall, within the Presence of the Senate
And House of Representatives, unseal
And open all the Lists, and count the Votes.
Whoever has of all these Votes the most,
Provided that the total represents a
Majority of all Electors voting,
Shall be the President. If more than one
Such Presidential Candidate shall have 
Such a Majority, with equal Votes,
The House of Representatives shall choose,
By Ballot, one of them for President;
Alternatively, if no Person has a
Majority, the House shall likewise choose
The President by Ballot from among
The top five Persons on the List. But all
The Representatives from any State
Will share a single Vote, a quorum then
Consisting of at least one Member from 
Two-thirds of all the several States; a Choice
Requiring a Majority of Votes.
The President first having been selected,
The Person with the most electoral Votes
Shall be the USA’s Vice-President;
If two or more remain with equal Votes,
The Senate shall by Ballot choose among them.
The Congress may determine both the Time
Of Choosing the Electors, and the Day
On which they give their Votes; which Day shall be 
The same throughout the whole United States.
No person shall be eligible for
The Presidency of the U.S.A.
Except a Citizen from birth, or from
This document’s adoption, who shall have
Attained the Age of thirty-five, and been
At least for fourteen Years a Resident
Within the borders of the U.S.A.
In case of any of the following,
The Office of the U.S. President 
Immediately shall be vested in the
Vice-President: The President’s removal
From Office, or his Death, or Resignation,
Or Inability to carry out
The Powers and the Duties of the Office.
The Congress may by Law provide for Cases
Of simultaneous vacancy of both
The government’s two highest Offices,
Declaring who shall act as President;
Such Officer shall act accordingly, 
Until the Disability be removed,
Or else a President shall be elected.
The President, at stated Times, shall get
A Compensation for his Services,
Which shall not be diminished or increased
Within a single Presidency, and
Within that time the President shall not
Receive Emolument of any kind
Besides the Compensation named above
From the United States, or any State. 
Each President, before he enter on
The Execution of his Office, first
Shall take this oath or affirmation: “I
Do solemnly (affirm or) swear that I
Will faithfully perform the duties of
The office of the U.S. President,
And will, to my Ability’s extent,
Preserve, protect and guard in every way
The Constitution of the U.S.A.”
The President shall be the Chief Commander 
Of both the U.S. Army and the Navy,
And also of the several States’ Militiae
When called into the Service of the Nation.
The President may call upon the head
Of each of the executive Departments
To render a report on any subject
Relating to the Duties of their Office.
The powers of the President shall also
Extend to granting Pardons and Reprieves
For crimes against the United States, except 
In Cases of Impeachment. He shall have
The Power to make Treaties, by and with
The Counsel and Agreement of the Senate,
At least two thirds of Senators concurring.
The President shall also nominate,
And likewise with the Senate’s confirmation,
Appoint Ambassadors and other Consuls,
And public Ministers, Supreme Court Judges, and
All other U.S. Officers established
By Law, whose method of Appointment is 
Not herein otherwise provided for;
The Congress may, however, legislate
That certain minor Officers’ appointments
Be vested in the President alone,
The Head of a Department, or the Courts.
The President shall also have the power
To fill up any Senate Vacancies
That happen while that body is in Recess;
Commissions granted by the President
Shall last until the following Session’s end. 
The President, from time to time, shall give
The Congress current Information of
The Union’s State, and recommend to them
Such Measures as shall be adjudged by him
As necessary and expedient;
The President may order to convene
The Houses of the Congress, both or either,
In extra-ordinary circumstances.
If both the Houses ever disagree
About the Time to which they shall adjourn, 
The President may then adjourn them to
Such Time as he shall think appropriate.
The President shall furthermore receive
Ambassadors and other Ministers,
Take care that Laws be executed faithfully,
And, finally, he shall Commission all
The Officers of the United States.
The President, Vice President and all
Civilian U.S. Officers shall be
Removed from Office on Impeachment for 
And subsequent Conviction of high Crimes
And Misdemeanors, Bribery, or Treason.
Judicial Power in the United States
Shall be invested in one supreme Court,
And in such lower Courts as Congress may
From time to time establish and ordain.
At either type of Court, the Judges shall
Maintain that Office during good Behavior,
And for their work receive a Compensation
At stated Times, which shall not be diminished 
So long as they shall hold their Offices.
Judicial Power shall extend to all
Cases, in Law and Equity, arising
Under this Constitution and the Laws
Of the United States, and Treaties made,
Or to be made, by their Authority;
All Cases that affect Ambassadors
And other public Ministers and Consuls;
All Cases of the Admiralty and
Cases of Jurisdiction maritime; 
Disputes to which the U.S.A. shall be
A Party, and disputes among the States,
Between one State and another’s Citizens,
Or Citizens of different States, or claiming
The right to certain Lands from Grants of Land
Derived from different States; and finally
Disputes between a State or Citizens
And foreign States or Citizens or Subjects.
In any case to which Ambassadors,
Or other public Ministers and Consuls, 
Or any of the States, shall be a Party,
The Jurisdiction of the Case shall lie
Originally with the Supreme Court.
In all the other Cases named above,
Both as to Law and Fact, the Supreme Court
Shall have appellate Jurisdiction, but
With such Exceptions, and abiding by
Such Regulations as the Congress shall
Establish by appropriate legislation.
Except in Cases of Impeachment, Trial 
Of all and any Crimes shall be by Jury;
Such Trial shall be held within the State
In which the same transgressions shall have been
Committed, but when not committed in
The boundaries of any State, then at
Such Place or Places as the Congress may
Have chosen for such purposes by Law.
The only acts comprising Treason against
The United States shall be the levying
Of War against them, or adherence to 
Their Enemies, providing Aid and Comfort
To them. In order to convict a Person
Of Treason, Testimony of at least
Two Witnesses to a single overt Act
Shall be required, or a sworn Confession,
Made by the one accused in open Court.
The Congress shall have power to declare
The Punishment of Treason, but shall not
Cause any Blood Corruption to be worked,
Or any Forfeiture for any time 
Beyond the Lifetime of the Person who
Shall be convicted of the Crime of Treason.
Full Faith and Credit shall be given to
The public Acts and Records and judicial
Proceedings of each State in all the others.
The Congress may by general Laws prescribe
How such Proceedings, Acts and Records shall
Be proved, and also the Effect thereof.
In all the States, the Privileges and
Immunities of Citizens shall be 
Applied to Citizens of every State.
A Person charged in any State with Treason,
Or Felony or any other Crime,
Who, having fled from Justice, shall be found
In any other State, shall on demand
Of its executive Authority
Be given up and re-delivered to
The State with Jurisdiction of the Crime.
No Person who, according to the Laws
Of any State, is bound to Service there, 
Escaping into any other State,
Shall be, in Consequence of any Law
Or Regulation there, discharged from such
Service; but on the Party’s claim to whom
Such Service may be due, shall be returned.
New States may be admitted by the Congress
Into this Union; no new States, however,
Shall be created in the Jurisdiction
Of any other State; nor shall a State
Be formed by recombining two or more 
Existing States, or parts of States, without
Consent from both the Legislatures of
The State or States concerned, and of the Congress.
The Congress shall have power to dispose of
And make all needful Rules and Regulations
Respecting U.S. Territory or
Such other Property as may belong
To the United States; and nothing in
This Constitution shall be so construed
As prejudicing any Claims thereof 
Or any Claims of any of the States.
The United States shall guarantee to all
The States therein a Government that is
Republican in Form, and shall protect
Them each against Invasion; and against
Domestic Violence, at any time
The Legislature, or Executive
(In case the Legislature cannot be
Convened) applies to them for such protection.
The Congress shall propose Amendments to 
This Constitution, if two thirds of both
The Houses deem it necessary, or,
If two thirds of the Legislatures of
The States make Application, shall convene
Conventions for proposing such Amendments,
Which shall, in either Case, to all Intents
And Purposes, be valid pieces of
This Constitution, when three fourths of all
The Legislatures of the several States
Or else Conventions in three fourths thereof 
Shall ratify them; whether by Convention
Or Legislature, as the Congress may
Propose; provided no Amendment which
Would change in any way Clause One or Four
Of Section Nine in Article the First
Be made before the Year eighteen-oh-eight;
And that no State, without Consent, shall be
Deprived of equal Suffrage in the Senate.
All Debts contracted and Engagements made
Before this Constitution shall have been 
Adopted shall be just as valid for
The U.S. under it as they had been
Under the previous Confederation.
This Constitution, and the U.S. Laws
Which shall be made in Pursuance thereof,
And all and any Treaties made, or which
Shall be made, under the Authority
Of the United States, shall be the Law
Supreme in all the States, in all of which
The Judges shall be bound by these, and not 
By any contradiction of them in
The Laws or Constitution of a State.
The Senators and Representatives
And Members of the Legislatures of
The several States, and all judicial and
Executive Officials, both of the
United States and of the several States,
Shall all be bound by Oath or Affirmation
To give this Constitution their support;
But no religious Test shall ever be 
A requisite for any public Trust
Or Office under the United States.
Whenever the Conventions of nine States
Shall ratify this Constitution, that
Shall be sufficient to establish it
Among those States where it is ratified. 
The Bill of Rights
The Congress shall refrain from making laws
Respecting an establishment of faith,
Or limiting the freedom of the people
To exercise religion as they choose;
Or laws abridging popular free speech, 
Or freedom of the press; or of the right
Of people to assemble peaceably,
And make petitions to the Government
To try to have their grievances redressed.
Because a State’s security demands 
The presence of a well-controlled Militia,
The people’s right to keep and to bear Arms
Shall never be infringed by any law.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered
In any house, against the Owner’s will,
Nor yet in time of war, except in such
A manner as shall be prescribed by law.
No laws shall ever violate the right
Of people, in their persons, houses, papers
And property, to be secure against 
Unreasonable search and seizure, and
No Warrant shall be issued in the absence
Of likely cause, supported by an Oath
Or affirmation, and all warrants must
Describe specific places to be searched
And articles or persons to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for
A crime for which the punishment is death
Or which is infamous in other ways,
Without first having been indicted by 
Grand Jury, if the case does not arise
Within the land or naval forces, or
Militia, when in actual service in
A time of War or other public danger.
No person shall be subject for the same
Offense to be put into jeopardy
Of life or limb more than a single time;
Nor shall a person accused in any crime
Be forced to be a witness against himself,
Nor be deprived of liberty or life 
Or property, without due legal process;
Nor private property be taken for
The public use without just compensation.
Whoever is accused of any crime
Shall, under prosecution, have the right
To speedy public trial by a jury
Of impartial citizens of that same State
And district where the crime had been committed,
Which first shall have been ascertained by law;
The accused shall also be informed about 
The accusation’s nature and its cause,
Confronted with the witnesses against him,
And have the right to processes by which
He may compel the testimony of
Witnesses in his favor, and the right
To have a Counsel for his own defense.
The right to jury trial shall be preserved
In suits at common law where the amount
In controversy shall be more than twenty
Dollars, and no fact tried by jury shall 
Be reexamined otherwise than in
Accordance with the rules of common law,
In any court of the United States.
The courts shall not require excessive bail,
Impose excessive fines, or yet inflict
Unusual and cruel punishments.
Whatever rights may be enumerated
Herein shall not be so interpreted
As to deny or otherwise disparage
Retention of all other rights by the people. 
Whatever powers that this Constitution
Does not expressly grant the nation or
Prohibit to the individual states
Shall be reserved to them, or to the people. 
Geoffrey Wessel is an American diplomat and philosopher. This is his first piece for Overthinking It.