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Legislative Branch (Congress) Primary Sources

The Constitution

You'll want to turn your attention to Article I, which establishes the form and structure of the legislative branch of government.

THOMAS from the Library of Congress

Named after Thomas Jefferson, THOMAS is the Library of Congress's incredibly useful point of access to all the primary-source info you could possibly desire regarding legislative branch activity. Bills and resolutions, roll call votes, past laws, current schedules, and the Congressional Record—it's all here, in easily searchable form.

McCullough v. Maryland

This landmark 1819 Supreme Court case interpreted the "Necessary and Proper Clause" of the Constitution in a liberal manner, establishing a precedent that would help lead to the gradual expansion of the implied powers of government over the course of the next two centuries.

Missouri Compromise

The Missouri Compromise, passed in 1820, was one of the most important pieces of legislation passed by Congress in the first half of the nineteenth century. The compromise quieted sectional controversy between the slave South and free North for a generation.

Pacific Railway Act

In 1862, Congress passed a landmark bill providing funding for the construction of a transcontinental railroad. That railroad, completed in 1869, tied the West Coast to the East and helped initiate a period of rapid economic and industrial growth in the United States.

Interstate Commerce Act

In 1887, Congress passed an act authorizing the federal regulation of the railroad industry, beginning a new era of extensive government regulation of the economy.

Social Security Act

Perhaps the most important legislative accomplishment of the New Deal, the Social Security Act passed by Congress in 1935 established a new system of government-funded retirement insurance for all Americans.

Civil Rights Act

In 1964, Congress ended a century of legal discrimination against blacks by passing the Civil Rights Act, which outlawed the Jim Crow system of de jure segregation.

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