The Intellectual Importance of Our Founding Documents
Growing up in the 1950′s and early 60′s, most Baby Boomers learned precious little about our founding documents, and even less about our Founders themselves. There were at least ‘civics’ classes back then (not so today) that in retrospect were woefully inadequate.
Like so many decades of students that have followed in their footsteps, Boomers duly memorized some important passages like the Gettysburg address. But the lessons didn’t include much about the man who gave that address to the nation, or even under what circumstances the address was given. The focus then was almost exclusively on memorization of pertinent dates and places.
This is surely why American history was and still is the least favorite subject of generations of students.
In fact, Lincoln was a hugely controversial President and a biased champion of the North, even though he is still primarily known for ‘freeing the slaves’ based on historical evidence that is politically suspect at best.
Lesser known is the fact that he was singularly responsible for triggering a catastrophic war between the states that nearly ended our union in the wake of untold deaths and deception.
Maybe historians think we all want nice, rosy pictures of our past leaders? (But do you?)
Who cares about student’s need to know what really happened back then?
The Bill of Rights, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers — those were glossed over, apparently with the idea of that they were beyond the grasp of students. But were they? And are they?
Even the Pledge of Allegiance is taken for granted and has been modified over the years, but to what end?
Follow these links to documents that all citizens should all know about and love.
The links include commentaries about the differences between Federalists and Republicans; about the differences between a Republic and a Democracy; they include information about the importance of separation of powers between the three branches of the federal government; they detail the underpinnings of the controversial commerce clause; and they detail the history of our national anthem and more — including the ‘authorizing clause’ for our system of federal taxation.
You will be rewarded and enriched for the time spent exploring these documents.
Our Founding Documents
The Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution
The Declaration of Independence as written by Thomas Jefferson — additions by Congress appear in red text and any deletions made by Congress are struck through in red text
Transcript of The Constitution of the United States — a transcription in its original form — items that are hyperlinked have since been amended or superseded
Questions and Answers pertaining to the U.S. Constitution
Original text of The Federalist Papers
Index to the Antifederalist Papers — In contrast to Hamilton, Madison and Jay who supported ratification of the Constitution of the United States, many others did not. While the former’s works were more logically organized (and eventually won the debate), the Antifederalist writers were nonetheless articulate. Serious questions were raised which eventually led to some of the Federalist writings that served as answers to allegations of the Antifederalists.
100 Milestone Documents — compiled by the National Archives and Records Administration, drawn primarily from its nationwide holdings — these documents chronicle U.S. history from 1776 to 1965
Additional Historical Resources
“Independence Forever: Why America Celebrates the Fourth of July” by Matthew Spalding of the Heritage Foundation
“The Urgent Need for More George Washingtons” from the National Center for Constitutional Studies
The Reach of Congressional Power: Specific Article I and Article IV Powers — a discussion of how far the powers of Congress extend under the various grants
A Principle of the Traditional American Philosophy: LIMITED GOVERNMENT
“Of the Origin and Design of Government” by Thomas Paine — On January 10th, 1776 Thomas Paine published the most popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary, Common Sense. In this short pamphlet Paine outlined what would become the cornerstone and supreme argument for individual rights and liberties.
A Principle of the Traditional American Philosophy: TAXES, Limited to Safeguard Liberty
“Bipartisanship: Federalist and Republicans in the Early Republic” from the Encyclopedia of the New American Nation
The Founders on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms — extensive quotes from Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, John Adams, Samuel Adams, James Madison, George Washingon, James Monroe, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, George Mason and more
“Unalienable Rights” versus “Inalienable Rights” — d0 you know the difference?
The most effective means of preserving liberty is “An Enlightened, Committed People Who Understand The Principles of Our Constitution”
“Small Federal Government/Strong Local and State Governments” — The basic idea of our Founders was to get government as close to the people as possible. The more remote it is from the people, the more dangerous it becomes
“Separation of Powers: The Genius of America’s Constitution” – America’s Founders had just declared themselves free of a tyrannical government. They were determined that such tyranny would never be repeated in this land
“Checks and Balances: The Constitutional Structure for Limited and Balanced Government” — The Constitution was devised with an ingenious and intricate system of checks and balances to guard the people’s liberty against combinations of government power. It structure the Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary to be separate and wholly independent as to function but coordinated for proper operation with safeguards to prevent usurpations of power
History of the Pledge of Allegiance — The Pledge of Allegiance is an oath of loyalty to the flag and the republic of the United States, composed originally by Francis Bellamy in 1892. The Pledge has been modified four times since then, with the most recent change adding the words “under God” in 1954
A History of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address — This represents the earliest known of the five drafts of what may be the most famous American speech. It was delivered by President Abraham Lincoln in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, at the dedication of a memorial cemetery on November 19, 1863
Transcript of President George Washington’s First Inaugural Speech (1789) — On April 16, 1789, two days after receiving official notification of his election, George Washington, although not required by the Constitution, gave the first Presidential inaugural address on April 30, 1789
Transcript of President George Washington’s Farewell Address (1796) — Originally published in David Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser on September 19, 1796 under the title “The Address of General Washington To The People of The United States on his declining of the Presidency of the United States,” the letter was almost immediately reprinted in newspapers across the country and later in a pamphlet form
The Deist Roots of the United States of America by Robert L. Johnson — What was it that filled the souls of America’s founders with such passionate altruism that they were willing to risk everything they had, including their families, careers, and very lives, for an ideal? Was it their strong convictions in the teachings of Christianity and the Bible? Or was it something else?
A Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery to America’s Age of Entitlement [Revised Edition] by Larry Schweikart and Michael Patrick Allen
Authors Schweikart and Allen remind us all what a few good individuals can do in just a few short centuries. This is a credible and well-researched, reliable account of America from the discovery of the Continent up to the present day. And it is the sorely-needed antidote to the left-wing and Marxist textbooks that are currently in use in American public schools and colleges.
The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War by Thomas DiLorenzo
Most Americans consider Abraham Lincoln to be the greatest president in history. His legend as the Great Emancipator has grown to mythic proportions as hundreds of books, a national holiday, and a monument in Washington, D.C., extol his heroism and martyrdom. But what if most everything you knew about Lincoln were false? What if, instead of an American hero who sought to free the slaves, Lincoln were in fact a calculating politician who waged the bloodiest war in american history in order to build an empire that rivaled Great Britain’s?