Our Constitution ... was not a perfect instrument, it is not perfect yet; but it provided a firm base upon which all manner of men of all races, colors and creeds could build our solid structure of democracy.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Constitutions are checks upon the hasty action of the majority. They are the self-imposed restraints of a whole people upon a majority of them to secure sober action and a respect for the rights of the minority.
William Howard Taft

 Our constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful.
John Marshall Harlan

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
Benjamin Franklin

 He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression.
Thomas Paine

True liberty shows itself to best advantage in protecting the rights of others, and especially of minorities.
Theodore Roosevelt

Liberty is the only thing you cannot have unless you give it to others.
William Allen White

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government´s purposes are beneficent. …The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachments by men of zeal, well-meaning, but without understanding.
Louis Brandeis

"America in the Time
of the Constitution"
a discussion of the historical environment in which the Constitution was written
Faculty/Student Discussion Led by Prof. Rodger Randle
September 18, 2017
Noon till 1:00pm
Room 1H02, OU-Tulsa Schusterman Center

For those wishing to study using the web, here are some good beginning places to go for information and analysis of our Constitution:

The Constitution Page is an objective and exhaustive web source for both a general constitutional overview as well as for detailed discussion of specific clauses and amendments. The Government Printing Office, an agency of the federal government, maintains the page.

Additional good resources for self-study:

Constitution Day

This page is designed for teachers in K-12 classrooms preparing lesson plans, but is full of good summary information about the Constitution. The site is maintained by the United States National Archives, as are all of the following pages (unless otherwise noted).

Each page in this series includes an actual photo of the documents, and a high resolution PDF copy can be downloaded. The pages also provide useful links to other resources for each topic.

Articles of Confederation

Most Americans have forgotten that we had a government system before the Constitution. Our experience with the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation led to the creation of the Constitution, and it is not possible to adequately understand the Constitution and the historic context in which it was created without understanding the Articles of Confederation that preceded it.

The Federalist Papers

Once the Constitution was written, it had to be adopted. In the late 1700’s the methods of marketing were different than today, but the proposed new Constitution had to be sold to the public to win ratification by the states. The Federalist Papers are a collection of essays (what today we would call “op-ed” pieces) that were published in two New York newspapers during the campaign for ratification of the Constitution. The collected essays wonderfully explain the issues that the Constitution writers faced and the thinking that went behind the different provisions of the Constitution.

United States Constitution

The full text of the Constitution.

The Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights was a series of amendments to the original Constitution. The amendments were considered to be necessary additional safeguards for individual rights as we moved from the weak unity of the Confederation to the (relatively) much stronger central government of the Constitution.

Marbury vs. Madison

This is the classic Supreme Court ruling that provided for judicial review of the actions of the administrative and legislative branches of government. This case formed the foundation for all subsequent Supreme Court interpretations of Constitutional meaning. The ability of the courts to “interpret” the Constitution has given our system of government an elasticity to change with the times …and explains why our Constitution has been so rarely amended since its adoption, although what we understand the Constitution to mean has changed in significant ways since 1787.

Brown vs. Board of Education

This is the Supreme Court ruling that outlawed “separate but equal” schools. It is a momentous modern example of constitutional re-interpretation in light of changing societal values.

The day of Friday, September 18, 2017, has been designated by Congress as Constitution Day in the United States, and the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa is organizing a variety of activities during September to observe the occasion and promote study of the Constitution. Constitution Day activities include the creation of this Constitution Day webpage with news of campus activities and self-study resources. A series of discussions and lectures for OU-Tulsa faculty and students will be offered leading up to Constitution Day, and in the days following Constitution Day.

OU-Tulsa Plans
Constitution Day Activities
Contact information:

Prof. Rodger Randle at 918.660.3495 or by E-mail

The University of Oklahoma - Tulsa
4502 East 41st Street
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74114

Easy Option Are Available for Those Who Want to Learn More about Our Constitution

Many good resources are available on the web that provide the basis for a self-study program about the United States Constitution. The web offers convenient and rapid access to study resources, and most OU students, staff, and faculty have home or campus connections to the Internet. Students with wireless enabled laptops can take advantage of the new wireless Internet access at the Schusterman campus, and students without laptops have access to the computer terminals placed in most campus study areas.

Of course, the University of Oklahoma Library should not be forgotten as a resource. The library is still the best place to find books, journal articles, and scholarly resources. Neighborhood libraries of the Tulsa City-County Library System are also often a convenient place to find books and journal articles. Even if you begin your study using web resources, you may wish to complete your studies with a good book on the origins of American government or the founding fathers.The classic book on the Constitution is The Federalist Papers, and it makes surprisingly good reading ...Random House’s Modern Library edition is especially recommended because of the quality of the introductory chapter.

Visit a library or book store and browse the sections on American history and government, or look for biographies of Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, or other key figures who participated in the writing of the Constitution.
This page was created at the Center for Studies in Democracy and Culture at OU-Tulsa.
To learn more about the Center, please click on the Center's logo above.