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PREFACE o encourage people everywhere to better understand and appreciate the principles of government that are set forth in America’s founding documents, the Cato Institute is pleased to publish this pocket edition of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. This preface has been prepared by Roger Pilon, director of Cato’s Center for Constitutional Studies. For more information about the Cato Institute, please see the end of this publication.
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In 1776, America’s Founders gathered in Philadelphia to draft the Declaration of Independence, which dissolved the political ties that had bound the American people to Great Britain. A new nation was thus born, free and independent, the United States of America. Eleven years later, in 1787, after American patriots had won our independence on the battlefield, many of the men who had met earlier in Philadelphia, plus others, met there again to draft a plan for governing the new nation, the Constitution of the United States. In 1789, after the plan had been ratified, the new government was established. Together, the Declaration and the Constitution are America’s founding documents. As amended over the years, the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, the nation’s fundamental law. But the broad language of the Constitution is illuminated by the principles set forth in the Declaration. To better understand and appreciate the form of government we