Grammar web log

A generative grammar project

The American bald eagle


American bald eagles are white headed, hence the name. The bald eagle is a national symbol of the United States of America. The Continental Congress adopted the Great Seal to include the bird as part the emblem in 1782.


Not everyone was happy with the choice. Benjamin Franklin wrote in one of his letters,

For my own part. I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen the representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly … besides, he is a rank coward: The little king bird not bigger than a sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district.


Bald eagles have been termed “opportunistic feeders”, indeed (Wikipedia). The term means they adapt to habitats. Preying on fish is actually easy to the birds, and well, we hardly could expect whaling, by any bird at all.


If we are curious about American landscapes and habitats, we can go the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


On bald eagles’ courage, we should not expect them to fight in areas or territories they do not recognize for own. It might be very dangerous to try approaching a nest, when the parents are in (!)


All bald eagles and golden eagles are under the Protection Act. Federal laws forbid damaging, disturbing, possession, or trading of the American eagle.

Bald eagles hatch reliant on temperatures. They may hatch in spring or fall, dependent on the geographical area.

US Alaska has the greatest population of bald eagles in North America and the world.


If we are curious about the species, we can get American Bald Eagle Information,

We also can support the species financially, with the American Eagle Foundation,

We have the bald eagle as a symbol of good language skills, in our grammar course.



October 2, 2015 Posted by | American English, Knowledge about the USA | , , | Leave a comment

Colors can help read and learn

We can use a color code, to make reading and learning easier. We color auxiliary verbs green and head verbs mauve. Pronouns and nouns are ink blue in the book print; we bolden them when they are of focus, on the website. Invented verbs are gillyflower and invented nominals (pronouns and nouns) carrot. (Scroll down the page for virtual words). Highlights and maps can be blue.


1.         Jill left a few minutes ago. Past Simple


1a.       Jill has just left.  Present Perfect


We avoid color red for the prevalent and adverse associations with prescriptive opinion on error.

Virtual words are in colors we are less likely to find in regular book print, even color print.

They are just to help exercise. They are not to replace language.


Some verb forms can work as head verbs as well as auxiliaries. Our head verbs can head verb phrases. They tell the activity or faculty. Auxiliaries always require another verb. They help tell the language pattern, for example Simple, Progressive, or Perfect.

We can say, I am a learner”; I am learning”.

We can say, I have a grammar book”; I have learned grammar”.


To avoid confusion, we can use an invented verb to exercise our way with words. Our invented or virtual verb can be “bimo”. We can use it as a regular verb.

We can use “bimo” with the forms and in the places for verbs. This can help us focus on syntax and form.


Virtual words can be fun. Kids use invented words regularly. This is not only because children would have fun and play. Kids follow natural intuitions, and invent words to work out language in an easier way. We can use our language intuitions when we are older, too.

Virtual words can help learn speech sounds.

We have two invented verbs, bimo and thimo, as well as two invented nouns, phimo and reemo.

The words have the sounds [f] , [b], [th], and [r] in the same position. The sounds may be difficult to learners, just as telling [I] from [I:], for example in thimo and reemo.

September 27, 2015 Posted by | American English, American English grammar, Bilingual education, psychology of language | , , | Leave a comment

Chapter 1.2. Mind practice

Exercise 4. Let us try some travel in our minds. We can use exercises 1 – 3. Let us take our short mind journey in stages. We all have own inner language, the language of our thought.

a) First, let us think how long we can stay without thinking. We happen to hear or say that someone is not thinking. This is yet only a saying, something we do not mean literally. In reality, we cannot “stop” our minds even for a minute.

b) Let us fix our thoughts on a single thing — a teacup, a pencil? Let us try to think about our object only and not anything else. We can look at the object or hold it, and use a wristwatch to see how long we cope.

c) Let us close our eyes and try not to think absolutely anything. The watch will tell us if we really can do this.

d) Now, let us think in what language we think and how we think. Do we think in entire words? Could our thoughts be only pictures?

e) Let us now go back to exercise 1. We can take a spare piece of paper. We can say out our answers to exercise 1, and write them down on the piece of paper. We think strictly in English. We do the same for exercise 2. We may notice we are better off coming up with our answers anew than trying to remember the answers we gave previously (it is always good to have a notebook, to do the exercises).

f) We put aside the paper with our answers. We try to “say” our answers to exercises 1 and 2 in our thoughts. Some find it easier to “say” with their eyes closed. Now we open our notebooks and the key to compare our answers. Finally, we try to “say” our answers to exercise 3 in our thoughts strictly and compare them with the key, without writing. We do not even whisper (!)

We can try this practice with all the exercises that follow.

In the beginning, we might feel it is really an effort to “discipline” ourselves and consciously direct thinking. It is essential that we try. “Saying” in our thoughts before we say out can make our thinking and speaking habits stronger.

We humans naturally have inner language. For example, silent reading takes less time than reading out. This is inner language to facilitate the process. It is not entire words or even speech sounds. It has only trace aspects of written or spoken language. Inner language is the highly advanced way for our human brains to correlate language knowledge and skills. We cannot speak a language really, if it does not belong with our inner skills. Importantly, we can exercise to improve our inner intellectual powers.

September 24, 2015 Posted by | American English, American English grammar, Bilingual education, psychology of language | Leave a comment

The US Great Seal



The United States Great Seal,

the obverse


Please mind that use of the Seal and its images belongs with American authorities, unless we mean explanatory purposes strictly, which is the use here.

The United States federal authorities have used the Great Seal to authenticate some documents since 1782.

The obverse of the Seal is the national coat of arms of the United States. The Seal shows the bald eagle holding 13 arrows in its left talon and an olive branch with 13 leaves and 13 olives in its right talon. The arrows symbolize the American preparedness for war.

The olive branch indicates want of peace. The eagle turns its head to the olive branch, expressing the American propensity for peace.

The symbology of number 13 as well as the motto, E pluribus unum, “Out of Many, One”, refers to the 13 states to have formed the original Union.

The use of arrow symbols in this grammar course does not correspond with the arrows of the Seal. The symbolic weaponry in the Seal regards American defense.

The arrow cues in this grammar guidance regard human orientative strategies and have no reference to weapons.

The reverse of the Great Seal shows an unfinished pyramid with an eye and two Latin inscriptions. The pyramid has 13 layers and the date MDCCLXXVI (1776) in Roman numerals.

The date 1776 refers to the Declaration of Independence. The Latin mottos, Annuit coeptis and Novus ordo seclorum, invoke Providence and the new, American nation to have come to exist in the land.

The pyramid may stand for might and endurance, it yet is purposed to remain unfinished. The founders of the State do not intend it for wielding absolute power (as we might associate pyramids with totalitarian ancient Egyptians).


Charles Thomson, the secretary of the Continental Congress, designed the Seal and formed the mottos. He never provided a translation of the Latin phrases. An expert at Latin, he wrote he meant to signify the New American Aera” which commenced from that date (1776). The word “to signify” has a close synonym in the word “to connote”.

The phrase “ordo seclorum” may be translated as “a human generation, people of a time”. Cicero’s Philippics have senses close to a class, union, people. Ancient Latin did not have the modern word people. We may interpret the “novus ordo seclorum” as “a new people come” to denote the new nation to have become. The Constitution opens with the phrase ―  “We, the people” ― to invoke the American nation. The Seal was adopted in 1782; the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783. Read more here.



The Seal of the United States President derives directly from the obverse of the Great Seal. The Congressional Seal and many other seals also show the American eagle.

The American eagle can symbolize good language skills in a really elite sense.



One-dollar bills have showed the Great Seal since 1935.

Click to enlarge


Copying American bank notes as well as emblems in order to convey a false impression of American approval is a criminal offense.

September 23, 2015 Posted by | American English, Bilingual education, Knowledge about the USA | , , , , | Leave a comment

The American flag


The Star Spangled Banner


The USA national flag has thirteen stripes of red alternating with white, the red at the top and the bottom in the Flag, and the white on the left and right in insignia. The union is a blue rectangle with 50 white, five-pointed stars, one for each American state. The 13 stripes represent the 13 original states of the early Union.


The American flag has changed since the early times. The Betsy Ross and the 13 Star are historic American flags. Alternative names for the contemporary American flag may be the Stars and Stripes, the Old Glory, and the Red, White, and Blue; the Star Spangled Banner is the name of the American national anthem, too.



 The 13 Star


 The Betsy Ross


There is a code of conduct concerning the Flag. The Federal Flag Code is not prescriptive of all situations and does not impose penalties for misconduct. Violating the guidelines may offend, however.


The guidelines state to display the Flag from sunrise to sunset, when in the open. The 24-hour Flag display should involve proper illumination of the Flag from dusk to dawn. We should not modify the Flag, regardless of the form of presentation. Whether in fabric, print, or another material, the Flag should have the stars and the stripes as in the contemporary design presented on the top of this page.

We should use an all-weather flag, when the weather is inclement. When displaying or parading the Stars and Stripes with other flags, we should position the Stars and Stripes on their own right side or in center front. On the same halyard, the American flag takes the superior position, except when with flags of other countries.


Granting a superior or privileged position to any flag of any country in a time of peace violates international regulations.


The American flag takes the rightmost position on its own right side, which may happen to be the observer’s left. The Union (the Stars) should remain on the Flag’s right, when the Flag is displayed horizontally or vertically. When the flag is displayed over the middle of the street, it should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south street.

The US national tradition holds the Flag half-staff until noon, on the Memorial Day.

                                                                                         A.M.             P.M.

United States Code explains on Flag dignity. The flag of the United States of America should not be showed with disrespect; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, state flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor. Improper displays of the Flag might be not honored. Removal of the  Flag from an improper display may be advisable.

We should not embroider the Flag on such articles as cushions or  handkerchiefs and the like, print or otherwise impress it on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. The code advises not to use the Flag for apparel. However, we might “get away” with flag pattern hats, tops, and scarves, especially on American holidays.


The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything. The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise. The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

The Code encourages wearing Flag patches or pins on the left side of uniforms of military personnel, firefighters, police officers, and members of patriotic organizations. The left side is that recognized for the side of the heart.


The use of the American flag image on the covers of this grammar book series is to enhance recognition and promotion of American English in language study. The grammar approach is not a temporary design, and flags have been in use for grammar courses in many languages. The image is intended to show the Flag aloft and free.




There have been disputes in America over freedom of speech and Flag burning. Could burning the Flag, as it happens in times of protests and unrest, be a form of speech?

In the psycholinguistic perspective, flag burning is a non-linguistic behavior. American legislation allows individual lawsuit in some cases of willful and malicious destruction.

The Flag Code makes one exception: The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. Naturally, we have to be careful with fire.


Saluting the Flag

The Flag Code does not imply any superiority of the American flag over flags of other countries. It does not prescribe on flag codes in other countries. In a case of conflicting flag codes, it might be good to query with an American embassy for an acceptable resolve. The Public Affairs Section (formerly the U.S. Information Service, USIS) will be able to provide all necessary advice.


Title four of the United States Code counsels on the behavior proper to salute the Flag.

During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the Flag or when the Flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present in uniform should render the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute. All other persons present should face the Flag and stand at attention with the right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Citizens of other countries present should stand at attention. All such conduct toward the Flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the Flag passes.


On occasions to salute the Flag, it could be best to agree on behavior with the American party to be present.


Flag regulations may seem complicated. However, let us think that humans have happened to risk own lives fighting for freedom and the Flag. The American anthem tells this. Freedom and human rights are indispensable for  intellectual and economic progress (see the context of the Gettysburg Address). Respect for the American flag means respect for own gray matter, especially if we learn American English. 

Fort McHenry



Flying the Flag

American legislation mandates flying the Flag day and night in a few locations.

Fort McHenry National Monument, Baltimore, Maryland;

Flag House Square, Baltimore, Maryland;

the United States Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington, Virginia;

Lexington, Massachusetts;

the White House;

the Washington Monument;

United States Customs ports of entry;

Valley Forge State Park, Pennsylvania.


The legislation pays tribute to historic American sites. Many locations fly the Flag 24 hours without specific legal resolves. One of such places is the United States Capitol.


We may fly the Flag overnight. We only should never leave it in darkness. Finally, a respectful display of the Flag may have some culturally overt and parental advisory contexts for non-complimentary.




Mount Rushmore has had its Avenue of Flags since 1976, the United States bicentennial.

Visitors can view the Memorial 24 hours, year round.

The US Capitol


The Memorial is located in the Pennington County, near Keystone, South Dakota. The four faces from left to right are those of the presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Sculptors Gutzon Borglum and his son Lincoln carried out the project. The construction ended in 1941.


Flying the American flag every day worldwide does not violate any regulations or codes, provided that we follow the Flag Code. There are a few special days on which to fly the Flag.

We put the month before the day to read the date in American English.


New Year’s Day

January 1

Inauguration Day

January 20

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday

February 12

Washington’s Birthday

third Monday in February

Easter Sunday


Mother’s Day

second Sunday in May

Armed Forces Day

third Saturday in May

Memorial Day (half-staff until noon)

the last Monday in May

Flag Day

June 14

Independence Day

July 4

Labor Day

first Monday in September

Constitution Day

September 17

Columbus Day

second Monday in October

Navy Day

October 27

Veterans Day

November 11

Thanksgiving Day

fourth Thursday in November

Christmas Day

December 25

State birthdays (days of admission)

                            and holidays

(each state individually)

September 23, 2015 Posted by | American English, Bilingual education, Knowledge about the USA | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Star Spangled Banner, the American anthem

The lyrics of the American anthem come from the Defence of Fort McHenry, a poem by Francis Scott Key. He witnessed the British siege of Fort McHenry in the war of 1812. Nowadays, American English has the word ‘defense’ for the former ‘defence’.


A facsimile of a newspaper printing of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ from September 20, 1814

Munroe & French published the Anthem in the Baltimore Patriot and Evening Advertiser.


The facsimile above comes from the Ritual of the Star-Spangled Banner,

 a book of the Star Spangled Banner Association, copyrighted to the National Association in Baltimore, Maryland.

Some people may remember the Anthem as saying ‘through the midst of the deep’. The reference might be to the Bible, for example Luke 4:30. But he, passing through the midst of them, went his way. The passage, as in the American Standard Bible, tells about a release of captives and remaining unhurt from opponents. The oldest American Bible is the Eliot Bible published in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1663.


 The typescript here is of the autograph manuscript from October 21, 1840, signed by Francis Scott Key. The manuscript is available online from the Library of Congress.



Autograph of the Anthem by Francis Scott Key — Click to enlarge



O! Say, can you see by the dawn’s early light

What so proudly we hail’d by the twilight’s last gleaming?

Whose bright stars and broad stripes, through the clouds of the fight,

O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?

And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

O! Say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?


On that shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,

Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,

What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,

As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,

In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream.

‘Tis the star-spangled banner ― O! long may it wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.


And where is that host who so vauntingly swore

That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,

A home and a country should leave us no more?

Their blood has wash’d out their foul footsteps’ pollution.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.


O! thus be it ever when freemen shall stand

Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation.

Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n rescued land

Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation.

Then conquer we must ― when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto ― In God is our trust.

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.



The autographed manuscript of the Anthem from October 21, 1840, says, “through the mists of the deep”.

There are a few autograph copies of the Anthem. The Samuel Sands print from ‘The American Farmer’ on September 21, 1814, also has the phrase “the mists”.

Some resources would say that the tune of the Anthem is “an old British drinking song’. There is nothing to support the attribution. Singing the Anthem accurately might belong with illusions, if to think about inebriation: the tune can be difficult to vocalize in the musical harmony, especially with any impediment.


The composer, John Stafford Smith, was son of Martin Smith, an organist of Gloucester Cathedral. John was born in 1750; he composed his tune in mid 1760s. He was a teenager and he did not write, however probably, for occasions to involve alcohol.


Many years after composing the tune, John Stafford Smith joined the Anacreontic society. The society promoted music. The association held regular concerts. Franz Joseph Haydn, obviously not a convivial musician, happened to be one of the guests. The Vocal Magazine first published the melody in 1778 in London.


An 1812 broadside printing of the Defence of Fort McHenry


The annexed song was composed under the following circumstances—A gentleman had left Baltimore, in a flag of truce for the purpose of getting released from the British fleet, a friend of his who had been captured at Marlborough.—He went as far as the mouth of Patuxent, and was not permitted to return lest the intended attack on Baltimore should be disclosed.

He was therefore brought up the Bay to the mouth of Patapsco, where the flag vessel was kept under the guns of a frigate, and he was compelled to witness the bombardment of Fort McHenry, which the Admiral had boasted that he would carry in a few hours, and that the city must fall. He watched the flag at the Fort through the whole day with an anxiety that can be better felt than described, until the night prevented him from seeing it. In the night he watched the Bomb Shells, and at early dawn his eye was again greeted by the proudly waving flag of his country (the 1812 broadside text, see at the Library of Congress).


September 23, 2015 Posted by | American English, Bilingual education | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Constitution

The US Constitution Page 1 __Click to enlarge

The US Constitution Page 2 __Click to enlarge




        The members of the Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution on September 17, 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Constitution became effective in 1789.


The print here is that by John Carter, 1787.




We can view and read documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention online. John Carter print has two very large pages. We can find them over the Library of Congress website, at

The Constitution has only two pages, yet they are the broadside size we may compare in the illustrations above. The Carter broadside has character ʃ for the letter s, unless capital or word-final. For example, the Congress is the Congreʃs, in the print. The Dunlap print of the Declaration of Independence uses the same character.

The Constitution has spellings such as ‘defence’, ‘behaviour’, or ‘honour’, nowadays associated with British English. The change in American spellings was taking place already at the time of the print, however. The Declaration of Independence says ‘honor’. The text of the Constitution below is a typescript of the Carter print.


We may learn to remember written matter long-term, just reading it piece by piece, from time to time.

It is important to have the text at hand.


WE, the PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, 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.




Sect. 1. ALL legislative powers, herein granted, shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.


Sect. 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second year by the people of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislature.


No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty-five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.


Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons. The actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each State shall have at least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New-Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New-Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North-Carolina five, South-Carolina five, and Georgia three.


When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.


The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other officers, and shall have the sole power of impeachment.


Sect. 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.


Immediately after they shall be assembled in consequence of the first election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three classes. The seats of the Senators of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year, of the second class at the expiration of the fourth year, and of the third class at the expiration of the sixth year, so that one third may be chosen every second year; and if vacancies happen, by resignation or otherwise, during the recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary appointments until the next meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such vacancies.


No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the age of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.


The Vice-President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.


The Senate shall choose their other officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice-President, or when he shall exercise the office of President of the United States.


The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside; and no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the members present.


Judgment, in cases of impeachment, shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honour, trust or profit, under the United States; but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.


Sect. 4. The times, places and manner, of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time, by law, make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.


The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.


Sect. 5. Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications, of its own members, and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under such penalties, as each House may provide.


Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behaviour, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.


Each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may in their judgment require secrecy; [1] and the yeas and nays of the members of either House on any question shall, at the desire of one fifth of those present, be entered on the journal.


Neither House, during the session of Congress, shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.


Sect. 6. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the treasury of the United States. They shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.


No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been encreased, during such time; and no person holding any office under the United States shall be a member of either House, during his continuance in office.


Sect. 7. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments, as on other bills.


Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senates shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve, he shall sign it; but if not, he shall return it, with his objections, to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each House respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.


Every order, resolution or vote, to which the concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and, before the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be re-passed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.



Sect. 8. The Congress shall have power

To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises, shall be uniform throughout the United States;


To borrow money on the credit of the United States;


To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes;


To establish an uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies, throughout the United States;


To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;


To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;

To establish post-offices and post-roads;


To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;


To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;


To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offences against the law of nations;


To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;


To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;


To provide and maintain a navy;


To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;


To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions;


To provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;


To exercise exclusive legislation, in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the Legislature of the State in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings; —and,


To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.


Sect. 9. The migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight; but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.


The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.


No bill of attainder, or ex post facto law, shall be passed.


No capitation or other direct tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census[2] or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.


No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State. No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one State over those of another: Nor shall vessels bound to or from one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties, in another.


No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.


No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no person holding any office of profit or trust under them shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office or title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.


Sect. 10. No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make any thing but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.


No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws; and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any State, on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control[3] of the Congress. No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty
of tonnage, keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another State, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.




Sec. 1. The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, together with the Vice-President, chosen for the same term, be elected as follows:


Each State shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of Electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress; but no Senator or Representative, or person holding an office of trust or profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.


The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a list of all the persons voted for, and of the number of votes for each; which list they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such majority, and have an equal number of votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by ballot one of them for President; and if no person have a majority, then from the five highest on the list the said House shall in like manner choose a President. But in choosing the President the votes shall be taken by States, the representation from each State having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two thirds of the States, and a majority of all the States shall be necessary to a choice. In every case, after the choice of the President, the person having the greatest number of votes of the Electors, shall be the Vice-President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal votes, the Senate shall choose from them by ballot the Vice-President.


The Congress may determine the time of choosing the Electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States.


No person, except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office, who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.


In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice-President; and the Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation, or inability, both of the President and Vice-President, declaring what officer shall then act as President, and such officer shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.


The President shall, at stated times, receive for his services a compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the United States, or any of them.


Before he enter on the execution of his office, he shall take the following oath or affirmation:


“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States; and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend, the Constitution of the United States.”


Sect. 2. The President shall be Commander in Chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices; and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.


He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers, and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law. But the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers as they think proper in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.


The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions, which shall expire at the end of their next session.


Sect. 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.


Sect. 4. The President, Vice-President, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office, on impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.




Sect. 1. The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such Inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the Supreme and Inferior Courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour; and shall, at stated times, receive for their services a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.


Sect. 2. The judicial power shall extend to all cases in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority; to all cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers, and Consuls; to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; to controversies to which the United States shall be a party; to controversies between two or more States, between a State and citizens of another State, between citizens of different States, between citizens of the same State claiming lands under grants of different States, and between a State, or the citizens thereof, and foreign States, citizens or subjects.


In all cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.


The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the State where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed.


Sect. 3. Treason, against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their
enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason, unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open Court.


The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted.




Sect. 1. Full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings, of every
other State. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records and proceedings, shall be proved, and the effect thereof.


Sect. 2. The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.


A person, charged in any State with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in another State, shall, on demand of the executive authority of the State form which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having jurisdiction of the crime.


No person, held to service or labour in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labour; but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labour may be due.


Sect. 3. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned, as well as of the Congress.


The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations, respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed, as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular State.


Sect. 4. The United States shall guarantee, to every State in this Union, a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and, on application of the Legislature, or of the Executive, (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.




The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution; or, on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention, for proposing amendments; which, in either case, shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress: Provided, that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses, in the ninth section of the first article; and that no State, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.




All debts contracted, and engagements entered into, before the adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.


This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the Judges, in every State, shall be bound thereby; any thing in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.


The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, under the United States.




The ratification of the Conventions of Nine States shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution, between the States so ratifying the same.


Done in Convention, by the unanimous consent of the States present, the seventeenth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the twelfth. In witness whereof, we have hereunto subscribed our names.


(and Deputy from Virginia).

New-Hampshire. John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman.

Massachusetts. Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King.

Connecticut. William Samuel Johnson, Roger Sherman.

New-York. Alexander Hamilton.

New-Jersey. William Livingston, David Brearley, William Paterson, Jonathan Dayton.

Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Mifflin, Robert Morris, George Clymer, Thomas Fitzsimons, Jared Ingersoll, James Wilson, Gouverneur Morris.

Delaware. George Read, Gunning Bedford, junior, John Dickenson, Richard Bassett, Jacob Broom.

Maryland. James M’Henry, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, Daniel Carrol.

Virginia.  John Blair, James Madison, junior. 

North-Carolina. William Blount, Richard Dobbs Spaight, Hugh Williamson.

South-Carolina. John Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles Pinckney, Pierce Butler.

Georgia. William Few, Abraham Baldwin.

Attest,             WILLIAM JACKSON, Secretary.


In CONVENTION, Monday, September 17th, 1787.


The States of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Mr. Hamilton from New-York, New-Jersey,  Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina, and Georgia.


THAT the preceding Constitution be laid before the United States in Congress assembled, and that it is the opinion of this Convention, that it should afterwards be submitted to a Convention of Delegates, chosen in each State by the People thereof, under the recommendation of its Legislature, for their assent and ratification; and that each Convention assenting to and ratifying the same, should give notice thereof to the United States in Congress assembled.



That it is the opinion of this Convention, That as soon as the Conventions of Nine States shall have ratified this Constitution, the United States in Congress assembled should fix a day on which Electors should be appointed by the States which shall have ratified the same, and a day on which the Electors should assemble to vote for the President, and the time and place for commencing proceedings under this Constitution: That after such publication the Electors should be appointed, and the Senators and Representatives elected: That the Electors should meet on the day fixed for the election of the President, and should transmit their votes, certified, signed, sealed and directed, as the Constitution requires, to the Secretary of the United States in Congress assembled: That the Senators and Representatives should convene at the time and place assigned: That the Senators should appoint a President of the Senate, for the sole purpose of receiving, opening and counting the votes for President; and that, after he shall be chosen, the Congress, together with the President, should without delay proceed to execute this Constitution.

By the unanimous order of the Convention,




In Convention, Sept. 17, 1787.


WE have now the honour to submit to the consideration of the United States in Congress assembled, that Constitution which has appeared to us the most adviseable.

The friends of our country have long seen and desired, that the power of making war, peace and treaties, that of levying money and regulating commerce, and the correspondent executive and judicial authorities, should be fully and effectually vested in the general government of the Union; but the impropriety of delegating such extensive trust to one body of men is evident. ―Hence results the necessity of a different organization.

It is obviously impracticable, in the federal government of these States, to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all. Individuals entering into society must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest. The magnitude of the sacrifice must depend as  well on situation and circumstance, as on the object to be obtained. It is at all times difficult to draw with precision the line between those rights which  must be surrendered, and those which may be reserved, and on the present occasion this difficulty was increased by a difference among the several States as to their situation, extent, habits and particular interests.

In all our deliberations on this subject, we kept steadily in our view that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which are involved our prosperity, felicity, safety, perhaps our national existence. This important consideration, seriously and deeply impressed on our minds, led each State in the Convention to be less rigid on points of inferior magnitude, than might have been otherwise expected; and thus the Constitution, which we now present, is the result of a spirit of amity, and of that mutual deference and concession which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensible.

That it will meet the full and entire approbation of every State is not perhaps to be expected; but each will doubtless consider, that had her interests been alone consulted, the consequences might have been particularly disagreeable or injurious to others; that it is liable to as few exceptions as could reasonably have been expected, we hope and believe; that it may promote the lasting welfare of that country so dear to us all, and secure her freedom and happiness, is our most ardent wish.

With great respect, we have the honour to be, Sir, your Excellency’s most obedient and humble Servants,


By unanimous Order of the Convention.

His Excellency the President of Congress.


UNITED STATES in Congress assembled.
Friday, September 28, 1787.

New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina and Georgia, and from Maryland Mr. Ross. Congress having received the report of the Convention lately assembled in Philadelphia,

Resolved, unanimously,

That the said report, with the resolutions and letter accompanying the same, be transmitted to the several Legislatures, in order to be submitted to a Convention of Delegates, chosen in each State by the People thereof, in conformity to the resolves of the Convention made and provided in that case.



State of Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations.

In GENERAL ASSEMBLY, October Session, 1787.

IT is Voted and Resolved, That the Report of the Convention, lately held at Philadelphia, proposing a new Constitution for the United States of America, be printed as soon as may be: That the following Number of Copies be sent to the several Town-Clerks in the State, to be distributed among the Inhabitants, that the Freemen may have an Opportunity of forming their Sentiments of the said proposed Constitution, to wit (…)

A true Copy: Witness, HENRY WARD, Sec’ry.



We may learn to remember written matter long-term, just reading it piece by piece, from time to time. 

It is important to have the text at hand.


History of the Constitution

The word constitution comes from the Latin constituere, constituo. In ancient times, “constitutions” were edicts issued by mostly despotic rulers. The ancients happened to incise those notices in stone, as there was no print. When a ruler or authority wanted to change an ordnance, he or she ordered another stone carved. Nowadays, only some researchers would use the word “constitution” for an ancient decree such as the Roman Twelve Tables; some would speculate the tables had rules for ancient plebeians to memorize (in our intellectual resolves, we are more dignified than mere memorization).


Initially, the USA had the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union (1781) for a constitution. It had to address the growing economic difficulty and internal instability of the young Union acknowledged by the Treaty of Paris (1783). The Treaty ended the Revolutionary War, affirming American freedom from England. The French were American allies in the War.

The Articles failed to provide for Union finances as well as governing authority.


The Constitutional Convention ― also known as the Philadelphia Convention or the Federal Convention ― began in 1787. Rhode Island ratified the Constitution in 1790, as the last of the initial 13 States.


The modern meaning of the word constitution is that of an objective legal agreement to set the fundamental law in an autonomous country or land.

The objectivity of the legislation is in binding the citizens as well as the authorities.

The American Constitution is the longest-lived constitution in the world. See the Bill of Rights.

Click to enlarge

Signing the Constitution, a painting by  Howard Chandler Christy

[1] The Carter print spells the contemporary ‘secrecy’ as ʃecreʃy’.

[2] The Carter print spells the contemporary ‘census’ as ʃenʃus’.

[3] The Carter print spells the contemporary ‘control’ as ‘controul’.

September 23, 2015 Posted by | American English, American English grammar, Bilingual education, Knowledge about the USA | , , | Leave a comment

The Bill of Rights


The New York
Congress passed the Bill of Rights in 1789.

It is the Fifth Article of the Constitution to provide for the Amendments.

We can view original documents online, also at the National Archives,

 The intellects to participate in the making of the
Constitution allowed amendments for the legislation, to meet varied circumstances in human lives.



 The preliminary print of the Amendments by Thomas Greenleaf had 17 articles.

James Madison prepared twelve amendments. Particular states ratified amendments three through twelve in December 1791. James Madison became President in 1809 and remained in office until 1817.

In 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced December 15 the Bill of Rights Day, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights adoption.


The September, Greenleaf print is also known as the James Madison’s copy of the Bill of Rights. It belongs with the Top Treasures of the Library of Congress.

Bennett Wheeler print of the Bill of Rights — Click to enlarge


The typescripts below regard the Bennett Wheeler print of the resolve by the New York Congress from March the 4th 1789, and the engrossed copy from the same Assembly. The engrossed copy was the one signed. The Wheeler print took part in adopting the legislation, the Assembly having decided that “One Copy thereof be sent to each Town Clerk in the State as soon as may be, to be laid before the Freemen”.

The historic American documents have the Amendments for the Articles in Addition to, and Amendment of, the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by Legislatures of several States, pursuant to the Fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Bill of Rights the engrossed copy

Bill of Rights, the engrossed copy — Click to enlarge


The italicized typescript renders the engrossed copy. Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, was the first to sign the document. We may compare the printed and handwritten styles as well as original documents online. We can view lawmaking as a process, as human work.



Begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday, the Fourth of MARCH, One Thousand Seven Hundred Eighty-nine.


The Conventions of a Number of the States having, at the Time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a Desire, in Order to prevent Misconstruction or Abuse of its Powers, that further declaratory and restrictive Clauses should be added: And as extending the Ground of Public Confidence in the Government will best insure the beneficent Ends of its Institution,


RESOLVED, by the Senate, and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, Two Thirds of both Houses concurring, That the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States as Amendments to the Constitution of the United States: All, or any of, which Articles, when ratified by Three-Fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all Intents and Purposes as Part of the said Constitution, viz.


Congress OF THE United States, begun and held at the City of New-York, on Wednesday, the Fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution,

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States as Amendments to the Constitution of the United States; all, or any of which Articles, when  ratified by three-fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes as Part of the said Constitution; viz.


Amendment I (Article the Third)

Congress shall make no Law respecting the Establishment of Religion, or prohibiting the free Exercise thereof; or abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the Press, or to the Right of the People peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II (Article the Fourth)

A well regulated Militia being necessary to the Security of a free State, the Right of the People to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III (Article the Fifth)

No Soldier shall, in Time of Peace, be quartered in any House, without the Consent of the Owner, nor, in Time of War, but in a Manner to be prescribed by Law.

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV (Article the Sixth)

The Right of the People to be secure in their Persons, Houses, Papers, and Effects, against unreasonable Searches and Seizures shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable Cause supported by Oath, or Affirmation, and particularly describing the Place to be searched, and the Persons or Things to be seized.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V (Article the Seventh)

No Person shall be held to answer for a Capital, or otherwise Infamous Crime, unless on a Presentment or Indictment of a Grand Jury; except in Cases arising in the Land or Naval Forces; or in the Militia, when in actual Service in Time of War or public Danger: Nor shall any Person be subject for the same Offence to be Twice put in Jeopardy of Life or Limb; nor shall be compelled, in any Criminal Case, to be a Witness against himself; nor be deprived of Life, Liberty or Property, without due Process of Law: Nor shall private Property be taken for public Use without just Compensation.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any Criminal Case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.


Amendment VI (Article the Eighth)

In all Criminal Prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the Right to a speedy and public Trial, by an impartial Jury of the State and District wherein the Crime shall have been committed, which District shall have been previously ascertained by Law; and to be informed of the Nature and Cause of the Accusation; to be confronted with the Witnesses against him; to have compulsory Process for obtaining Witnesses in his Favour; and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his Defence.

In all Criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.


Amendment VII (Article the Ninth)

In Suits at Common Law, where the Value in Controversy shall exceed Twenty Dollars, the Right of Trial by Jury shall be preserved, and no Fact tried by a Jury shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the Rules of the Common Law.

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII (Article the Tenth)

Excessive Bail shall not be required; nor excessive Fines imposed; nor cruel and unusual Punishments inflicted.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.


Amendment IX (Article the Eleventh)

The Enumeration in the Constitution of certain Rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the People.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


Amendment X (Article the Twelfth)

The Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively or to the People.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.


FREDERICK AUGUSTUS MUHLENBERG, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

JOHN ADAMS, Vice-President of the United States, and President of the Senate.

Attest, JOHN BECKLEY, Clerk of the House of Representatives.

SAMUEL A. OTIS, Secretary of the Senate.

A true Copy of the Original, duly examined:

Witness, HENRY WARD, Secretary.


The Bill of Rights context

Some researchers would derive the Bill of Rights from the feudal Magna Carta, the charter associated with John the Lackland. The charter yet did not make the provisions for freedom of religion as well as citizen that the Bill does; it discussed inheritance rather than ownership, and remained focused on monarch powers.

Already the First Amendment emphasizes independence from England and feudalism, in separating State from Church. The title of the Defender of the Faith, Fidei defensor, remains in use in Britain. Thomas Jefferson wrote in his letter to Danbury Baptists, “religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God”. The Founders considered it vital for the State not to decide on any Church, as well as for the State to be independent of Church regulations. We have a paraphrase of the First Amendment with Chapter 7.

Further, invoking clause 39 as the pretreatment for the Bill due trial by the law is a misunderstanding. The Charter says, No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.


As a legal qualification, the clause is unspecific and gives ground to mismanagement. Let us compare Amendment 6. It evidently addresses the issue of manipulated judgment: In all Criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district


Amendment 7 gives further specifics on proper judgment: In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

We may look to the capitalization ― that is, the use of big letters ― in the engrossed copy of the Bill of Rights. The Bill answers real legal controversies of the times; many of its resolves address royal justice practices. It does not mean that the Bill derives from the practices. Human freedom is not just an idea that might be unoriginal. Human freedom is a natural human need and requirement.


If we get curious, we may think about Emily Dickinson’s poetry and her use of big letters. Again, we do not need to imply that she derived from any document. We may think about a style of writing intended to invoke, address, answer. Feel welcome to read why I stay by the first print.


The Bill of Rights complements the Constitution, the longest-lived founding legislation in the world: taken the time span since the late 18th century, there has been no other country than America to retain the constitutive legislation, the territory, as well as the form of government. The Bill was adopted in 1791 and laid out principles to oblige everyone in American territories, in any PRESENT or FUTURE.


We may quote the 6th Amendment also to show the legally objective nature of the founding American legislation. The use of the Modal verb shall in the phrase wherein the crime shall have been committed” naturally does not mean a decision to commit a criminal offense. We may paraphrase it as ‘where such a criminal circumstance objectively becomes evidenced’. We may compare the note on the Modal verb SHALL, as well as try our voluntary extra practice.


According to this objective legislation, even the President, if guilty of a crime, would have to give up his or her office. The procedure is known as impeachment. On the other hand, everyone ― the President included ― has immunity from excessive bail, as well as cruel or unusual punishment. The Constitution also has extraterritorial applications. American citizens as well as foreigners may invoke the Constitution and the Amendments outside the USA, under circumstances recognized by American law.

Amendments strengthen the Constitution. The meaning of the Constitution needs not and has not changed, despite changing circumstances and redesigned typesets. Amendments make the Constitution even firmer than carved in stone (!)

We can read the Bill of Rights with annotations from the Legal Information Institute at the Cornell University
Law School website,     

We can type ‘Bill of Rights’ in the search field and click the Constitution tab in the search panel.

We have to learn to find knowledge independently.

September 23, 2015 Posted by | American English, American English grammar, Bilingual education, Knowledge about the USA | , | Leave a comment

Chapter 9.3. Detail on Modal chemistry and economy


Let us gather on the Negative chemistry for our Modal verbs.



We CANNOT skip the exercises.


We OUGHT NOT TO skip the exercises.


We MAY NOT skip the exercises.


We SHALL NOT skip the exercises.


We WILL NOT skip the exercises.


We MUST NOT skip the exercises.


We SHOULD NOT skip the exercises.



SHALL NOT may imply a conclusion, a decision ― more often in British English than in American, however. American English has the Modal WILL for resolves. The Modal CAN attracts NOT directly. They become one word, CANNOT. We may come upon the form CAN NOT in historic texts, as the Gettysburg Address.


President Abraham Lincoln gave the speech at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1863. The form “can not” is rarely used today, see the Gettysburg Address and Extra practice.


In the Affirmative, MUST NOT can mean that something is forbidden or strongly discommended. NEED can take regular negation. The auxiliary is the verb to do.

68.       We DO NOT NEED to memorize dictionaries.

We can use the short form DON’T, when our contexts are not formal.

68a.    We DON’T NEED to memorize dictionaries.

NEED can take a Modal negation, too. The Modal form may be more emphatic.

68b.    We NEEDN’T memorize dictionaries.

            (There is definitely no need to memorize dictionaries.)


HAVE TO takes the regular negative.


69.       We DO NOT HAVE TO memorize dictionaries.

69a.     We DON’T HAVE TO memorize dictionaries.


Our paths can diverge for NEED in the auxiliary PAST.


70.       You DIDN’T NEED to memorize this.

            (Something didn’t need to be done and it was not done.)

71.       You NEEDN’T HAVE memorized.

            (You did it, but you COULD HAVE left it alone ― hypothetical thinking.)


Let us tackle the Interrogative. This is the Modal to move here. Part One shows Inversion, along with the Negative Interrogative.



We CAN work a lot.

CAN we work a lot?


We MAY work a lot.

MAY we work a lot?


We WILL work a lot.

WILL we work a lot?


We SHOULD work a lot.

SHOULD we work a lot?


We OUGHT TO work a lot.

OUGHT we TO work a lot?


We SHALL work a lot.

SHALL we work a lot?


We MUST work a lot.

MUST we work a lot?


In Negative questions, the chemistry may depend on the form we use, short or full.



CAN we NOT work a lot?


SHOULD we NOT work a lot?


CAN’T we work a lot?


SHOULDN’T we work a lot?


MAY we NOT work a lot?


OUGHT we NOT TO work a lot?


MAYN’T we work a lot?


OUGHTN’T we TO work a lot?


WILL we NOT work a lot?


SHALL we NOT work a lot?


WON’T we work a lot?


SHAN’T we work a lot?


In questions, MUST NOT may ask about the proper course of things.


85.       MUST we NOT work a lot?

85a.    MUSTN’T we work a lot?


HAVE TO takes the regular Negative Interrogative.



DO we NOT HAVE TO work a lot?


DON’T we HAVE TO work a lot?


Let us catch on to the Modal NEED in our PAST compass. It behaves more and more like a regular verb, in contemporary American.



DID you NOT NEED to work a lot?


DIDN’T you NEED to work a lot?


Please compare,

88.       *NEEDN’T you HAVE worked . . .



Expression 88 would be so rare that an American might consider it incorrect. Why is this? Asking questions involves making hypotheses. Unless we ask a question for no reason or purpose and expect no answer at all, we make our questions thinking about some PROBABILITY at least. Beside inversion, we can use the question mark or intonation, to make a question.

Let us regard language economy. In a language information pool, we may not need to provide information more than once.

86a.    DIDN’T you NEED / HAVE TO work a lot?


An American could consider an alternate incorrect,

86b.    *MUSTN’T you HAVE worked . . .


NEED and MUST express a high degree of CONTINGENCY or CERTAINTY. Hypotheses with them might vary from those with other Modals: so many things SHOULD BE DONE and they never are (!)

With high CONTINGENCY or CERTAINTY, we can net the hypothetical time: we have a strong hypothesis in the Modal alone. American English can have a good language economy.


Modal economy


Please compare the absolutely correct in American,

89.       SHOULDN’T you HAVE read this all?

            (I am not saying you sure have not read this all.)


There is one more language structure we can find worthwhile. It is TO BE (SUPPOSED) TO.

90.       You WEREN’T (SUPPOSED) TO get the gizmos.

            (Be careful telling anyone, gizmo is a colloquial word).


The structure is close in meaning to the Modals MUST, NEED, and SHOULD. We can recur to it later. Let us now try our brains in exercises.


September 23, 2015 Posted by | American English, American English grammar, Bilingual education, psychology of language | | Leave a comment

The Gettysburg Address



Abraham Lincoln was President during the American Civil War, 1861-1865.

The War broke out over trade, finance, and civil rights. The issue involved slavery. Elected in 1860, President Lincoln disproved of slavery as a violation of the constitutional principles.


The President issued his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. It freed all slaves in the USA.

The Confederate states had trade ties with England. A British author and Conservative politician, Alex  Beresford-Howe, chaired and housed the London branch of the Southern Independence Association to support the secession. The Confederate Cotton Bond sold in the London market and raised money for the Confederacy.

President Lincoln, along with many Americans, opposed any ideas for another war against England. His diplomatic manner proved effective, not only in the Trent Affair. The affair involved the interception of the British RMS Trent, carrying secessionist mail and diplomats. The War ended in 1865. The USA united again. In the same year, John Wilkes Booth, an actor and a Confederate spy, assassinated President Lincoln.


The author of this grammar course absolutely does not support violent acts. Disputes may have resolves in intellective interaction.


The Gettysburg address is one of the most famous speeches in American history. President Lincoln delivered it on Thursday afternoon, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. About four months earlier, Union troops won over the Confederacy in the Battle of Gettysburg.

There are a few drafts of the Address. We can compare them online, over the Library of Congress website. The transcript below comes from ‘Lincoln’s first draft’, known also as ‘the Nicolay copy’. John George Nicolay was President Lincoln’s private secretary.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal”.


Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so concerned, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow, this ground—The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.


It is rather for us, the living, to stand here, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

The form can not, as in the Gettysburg Address, gives more emphasis to the Negative Modal form. Naturally, the strength of the Address remains related to its context. The form is hardly ever used, that is, we may make a better-learned impression, if we write or say cannot in contemporary American.


We do not have to follow the punctuation of historic documents. For example, we can space our dashes — clarity in writing may help communicate. History is worth learning and remembering—but not necessarily repeating.


The context of the Gettysburg Address


We may know the American Civil War as ‘the War Between the States’, ‘the War of Secession’,  ‘the War for Southern Independence’, ‘the War of Rebellion’ or ― mostly in tongues other than American English ― ‘the North against the South’, ‘the North versus the South’, as well as ‘the North-South’.


In the United States, people mostly say ‘the Civil War’. This does not mean the war did not involve violence and hostility. The word ‘civil’ comes from the Latin ‘civis’,a word to connote  citizenry and matters as well as businesses of citizens.


The Confederate States of America flag

The Civil War was a war waged by American citizens on other American citizens. It was nota war declared by foreign powers, military forces, or religious orders ― it was a war waged by civilians. The Civil War remains the only instance of an armed rebellion against the Constitution on the domestic scale. Americans do not praise conflicts.


Article 4 Section 3 of the Constitution forbids forming new states within the USA without Congressional approval.


The Confederate states declared independence from the USA in 1861. The Congress decided that it was illegal.


Confederate infantry​

The conflict required drafting troops. Confederate uniforms are easy to tell from the Union military clothing.

 US infantry


Researchers and historians differ in opinions about the etiology of the Civil War. Some would have the Northern response to the secession for purely idealistic. Many would be skeptical: you never leave your home, family, friends, and a good job just to go help out.

Horace Greeley Baker by J.E. Baker, Library of Congress


Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune criticized Abraham Lincoln for the cost of abolition.


Abraham Lincoln answered that he primarily minded the Union.



Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863.

My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.

Civil rights were literally of a capital concern to the American economy. Civil rights are not just some ideology.



Slavery brings the price of labor down. Low pay rates limit the buying potential of the people. Production becomes impeded with market shrinking: slave workers have very little purchasing power. If not prevented,  inflation follows.


An aerial view of the Wall Street  area; Wall Street is the ‘financial capital’ of the USA.


America is one of the most potent economies in the world. It is not a gold parity economy ― no gold standard alone could make it work. An economy like the American requires effective civil rights to motivate and protect the people and, in turn, to bring out the market as well as the currency.

The Morrill tariff of 1861 was an attempt to encourage the economy. James Buchanan, a Democrat president, wanted to enhance American workers against the cheap labor products from Europe. Southern cotton planters and slave owners rejected the tariff and abandoned the Congress.



Southern cotton sold well in Europe, especially in England. The trade connections were mutual. Southerners bought the low-cost European commodities, exporting own harvest. The Southern jack on the left is a Southern battle flag to correspond in pattern with royalist maritime and Commonwealth flags.

The conflict brought much damage to both sides. Although there would be reports of a Wall Street boom during the War, there is no evidence of the armed conflict enhancing the national finance: another well-known fact in human history is that war economies are not sustainable economies. The Civil War did not void the Morrill tariff, and that was the tariff to work. There have not been possible economy data for the time without the tariff in operation, that is, to except its functioning.


We may learn more about American history and economy further in the travel. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal sure can help comprehend the interrelationship between democratic standards and economy.

Finally, Federal authorities were concerned with the high slave mortality and human trafficking, that is, organized crime. Naturally, we cannot exclude human emotionality from the picture. There were many people in the North as well as the South to state that slavery was not acceptable on human grounds. Awareness that somewhere in the same country there are people treated in non-human ways certainly can be a distressing factor to upset the public.


At the same time, it might be important to realize that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are not just works of idealism or ― whatsoever ― any ‘political naïveté’. They are works of conscious minds to have formulated the substantial provisions for human dignity and thus economic prosperity in a country to thrive.


Major developments in the Civil War (we may learn more online and in libraries).



April 12-14, 1861

Confederate attack on Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina, fort taken;


The Union ‘Anaconda’ blockade of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts; Confederate trade and mobility limited;


April 19, 1861



March 9, 1862       The battle of the Hampton Roads to begin the ironclad warfare;


The ‘Four Axes’ strategy; Gen. Ulysses Grant to capture
Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, opening the Western Theater;





The Eastern Theater: Gen. Robert Lee to progress in his Northern Virginia and Maryland campaigns;


Union Gen. George McClellan stops Gen. Lee in the battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg);


September 17, 1862


President Abraham Lincoln’s announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation;


January 1, 1863

Gen. George Gordon Meade wins over Gen. Lee in the
battle of Gettysburg;


July 1-3, 1863

President Abraham Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address;


19, 1863


Gen. Grant receives the official surrender from Gen. Lee at the Appomattox Court House;


April 9, 1865


The 13th Amendment outlaws slavery.


18, 1865



September 22, 2015 Posted by | American English, Bilingual education, Knowledge about the USA | , , , | Leave a comment


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