The new Republican majority in the House, especially those with Tea Party backing, revere the US Constitution as the last word on American government. But what was read yesterday on the House floor was actually a redacted version, one omission being the reference to a slave as three fifths of a human being. The Founding Fathers themselves disagreed over fundamental principles, and ratification by all 13 colonies was a very close call. So why is the original document treated like holy writ? Did current arguments about government powers originate in 1776?