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U.S. Constitution - Article One


A member of Congress holds a copy of the U.S. Constitution. (File)

Article One of the United States Constitution describes the powers assigned to Congress, the country’s legislative branch. Congress is made up of two deliberative bodies.


Article One of the United States Constitution describes the powers assigned to Congress, the country’s legislative branch. Congress is made up of two deliberative bodies. The House and the Senate. The House represents the American people and the Senate represents the fifty states.

Article One establishes the manner of election and the qualifications of members of each body. Representatives, also known as “Congressmen or Congresswomen”, must be at least 25 years old, be citizens of the United States for seven years, and live in the states they represent. Senators must be at least 30 years old, be citizens for nine years, and live in the states they represent.

Section 8 of Article one defines the powers delegated to the legislature. Congress may tax, borrow, pay debts and provide for the common defense and the general welfare of the American people. It has the power to regulate commerce, bankruptcies, and coin money. It may regulate and govern U.S. military forces and the military forces of the states, suppress insurrections and repel invasions. It is to provide for immigration and naturalization of citizens, standards of weights and measures, post offices and roads, and patents.

Internationally, Congress has the power to declare war and make rules of war. Article I, Section 9 lists eight specific limits on congressional power.

The final clause of Article One, called the “Necessary and Proper Clause,” enables Congress to enact the laws required for the exercise of its other powers established by the Constitution.

Alexander Hamilton, who played a decisive role in the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, wrote “It ought never to be forgotten, that a firm union of this country, under an efficient government, will probably be an increasing object of jealousy to more than one nation of Europe; and that enterprises to subvert it will sometimes originate in the intrigues of foreign powers, and will seldom fail to be patronized and abetted by some of them,” said Hamilton. “Its preservation, therefore ought in no case that can be avoided, to be committed to the guardianship of any but those whose situation will uniformly beget an immediate interest in the faithful and vigilant performance of the trust.”

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