A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation


Beginning with the Continental Congress in 1774, Americas national legislative bodies have kept records of their proceedings. The records of the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, and the United States Congress make up a rich documentary history of the construction of the nation and the development of the federal government and its role in the national life. These documents record American history in the words of those who built our government.

Books on the law formed a major part of the holdings of the Library of Congress from its beginning. In 1832, Congress established theLaw Library of Congressas a separate department of the Library. It houses one of the most complete collections of U.S. Congressional documents in their original format. In order to make these records more easily accessible to students, scholars, and interested citizens,A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nationbrings together online the records and acts of Congress from the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention through the 43rd Congress, including the first three volumes of theCongressional Record, 1873-75.

The mission of the Library of Congress is to make its resources available and useful to Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations. The goal of the Librarys National Digital Library Program is to offer broad public access to a wide range of historical and cultural documents as a contribution to education and lifelong learning.

The Library of Congress presents these documents as part of the record of the past. These primary historical documents reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. The Library of Congress does not endorse the views expressed in these collections, which may contain materials offensive to some readers.Special Presentations:

Timeline: American History as Seen in Congressional Documents, 1774-1873

The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States

Indian Land Cessions in the United States, 1784 to 1894

The Louisiana Purchase: Legislative Timeline – 1802 to 1807

Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861-1865

The Impeachment Trial of President Andrew Johnson, 1868

Presidential Elections and the Electoral College, 1877Understanding the Collection

Related ResourcesWorking with the Collection