ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Top 10 DEFINING DOCUMENTS in American History

Updated on January 2, 2009

Evaluating zillions of documents isn't easy.

Which documents reign supreme in the USA?

Of the millions of documents pushed across desks, jammed into file cabinets and argued over by politicians, which ones are most important to the United States of America? Which documents defined, more than any others, what America is all about?

The History Channel's television documentary of 2003 called "Defining Documents: milestone documents in American History" did exhaustive research into determining these documents.

Called into the selection process were the staff members of the National Archives, the National History Day and the USA Freedom Corps. Together, they created a list of 100 of the country's most important documents, then, as is the democratic way, put that list out to the people for a vote.

Over 300,000 votes were cast online at back in 2003 to determine the order in which these 100 documents would rank.

Now, the results. Although most Americans and others who follow US history would unquestionably quess which document ranked number one on this list, it's interesting to see what the others are.

So, let's countdown the top ten defining documents in American history and the years they were "born":

10. Social Security Act (1935)

9. Civil Rights Act (1964)

8. Gettysburg Address (1863)

7. The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution: The Abolition of Slavery (1865)

6. The 19th Amendment to the US Constitution: Women's Right to Vote (1920)

5. Emancipation Proclamation (1863)

4. Louisiana Purchase Treaty (1803)

3. Bill of Rights (1791)

2. U.S. Constitution (1787)

1. Declaration of Independence (1776)

WHAT DOES EACH DOCUMENT DO OR SAY?  How much do you know about any of these documents?   Get INSTANT and  seemingly unlimited background info and full, rich explanations of each of the above famous American documents.  

Here's how:  Just type any one of their names into a mass-appeal search engine like Google, Yahoo, or Wikipedia.

Or, experiment within those same search engines and try phrases like "American history" or "founding fathers".

Alternate idea: visit the American Heritage site to begin exploring the deep and fascintating history of the USA.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)