Archive for February, 2013

Original Documents

The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America

July 4, 1776 When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect […]

Letter to Henry Lee by Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

In his later years, Jefferson answered hundreds of letters, including, in this instance, a query about the Declaration of Independence, explaining that it drew upon a long political and philosophical tradition and reflected principles widely understood by Americans of the founding era. May 8, 1825 Dear Sir: …That George Mason was the author of the […]

Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

Written in the tradition of Aristotle’s teacher, Plato–and of Plato’s teacher, Socrates–the Nicomachean Ethics addresses the question, “What is the best life for man?” An extended reflection on virtue, happiness, and friendship, it helped to inform the moral and political thought of America’s Founders. There are echoes of it, for instance, in President George Washington’s […]

The Politics by Aristotle, Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

Thomas Jefferson began studying Greek at the age of nine, and later in life employed so many Greek phrases in his letters that John Adams, his frequent correspondent, complained of them. The Founders’ interest in classical languages was not academic, but political and philosophical. Among the ancient books that they drew upon was Aristotle’s Politics, […]

On the Commonwealth by Marcus Tullius Cicero – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

On the Commonwealth 1 Marcus Tullius Cicero (c. 106-43 B.C.) Cicero was the great defender of the Roman republic and a master of oratory. The author of several books on politics, philosophy, and rhetoric, he was the first to speak of natural law as a moral or political law, and was an important influence on […]

The Second Treatise of Government by John Locke – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

Locke’s Two Treatises of Government presented a critique of the divine right of kings and outlined the principles of natural rights and government by consent. Written during the 1670s, they were not published until after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the passage of the English Bill of Rights in 1689. Locke was the political […]

Discourses Concerning Government by Algernon Sidney (1623-1683) – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

Involved in some of the same anti-monarchical causes as John Locke, Sidney was caught up in the conspiracy to oust King Charles II. He was beheaded on December 7, 1683, a martyr to the English Whig cause. Fifteen years after his death, his Discourses Concerning Government was published. A hero to John Adams and widely […]

The Constitution of the United States of America – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

The Constitution of the United States of America Fifty-five delegates from twelve states (Rhode Island declined to participate) traveled to Philadelphia to attend the Constitutional Convention, which began in May 1787. They quickly scrapped the existing Articles of Confederation, and after four months they concluded their business by adopting a new frame of government. On […]

Essays on Founding Documents/Readings

Introductory Essay by Dr. David Bobb, Director, Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship, Hillsdale College

2013 Reading Schedule

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 – Essay #2- The Declaration of Independence Part II – Guest Essayist: W.B. Allen, Dean Emeritus, James Madison College; Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Michigan State University

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 – Essay #3 – The Letter to Henry Lee by Thomas Jefferson – Guest Essayist: William C. Duncan, Director of the Marriage Law Foundation

Thursday, February 21, 2013 – Essay #4 – Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams, Program Director, Washington-Jefferson-Madison Institute

Friday, February 22, 2013 – Essay #5 – The Politics by Aristotle – Guest Essayist: Kyle Scott, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Houston

Monday, February 25, 2013 – Essay #6 – On the Commonwealth by Marcus Tullius Cicero – Guest Essayist: Robert Frank Pence, Founder, The Pence Group

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 – Essay # 7 – Second Treatise of Government by John Locke – Guest Essayist: Eric Mack Ph.D., University of Rochester, Professor of Philosophy and the author of John Locke (London: Continuum Press, 2009)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 – Essay #8 – Discourses Concerning Government by Algernon Sidney – Guest Essayist: Professor Joerg Knipprath, Professor of Law at Southwestern Law School

Thursday, February 28, 2013 – Essay #9 – The US Constitution – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams, Program Director, Washington-Jefferson-Madison Institute