Home History A changing interpretation of the Constitution

A changing interpretation of the Constitution

Samuel Holliday painting

At its outset, the Constitution was valued more as a tool than an object for citizens. Occasionally the “Federalist Papers” strike a tone of near apology; they defend the Constitution as necessary if undesirable in some regards.

Even great defender of the Union Abraham Lincoln took a somewhat instrumental view of the Constitution, referring to it as the “silver frame” surrounding the “golden apple” of the Declaration of Independence.

Since then, however, perspectives of the document have evolved to inherent good. More than just a technical guide to government, we now see it as a bedrock of values and ideals.

– Samuel Holliday, U.S. Capitol Historical Society

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