Archive for May, 2013

Original Documents

Speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act by Abraham Lincoln – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

Supporters of the Compromise of 1850 lauded it as a continuation of the Missouri Compromise, which had helped maintain peace for thirty years. But four years later, the Missouri Compromise was eviscerated by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Authored by Democratic Senator Stephen Douglas, it was in fact two provisions, one providing for the territory of Nebraska […]

Republican Party Platform of 1856 – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

Northern anger toward the Kansas-Nebraska Act reached its zenith in the late spring of 1854, when various anti-slavery forces coalesced in Jackson, Michigan. Organized around the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the Republican Party was born out of this meeting. It would adopt a platform two years later that called for repeal of the […]

Dred Scott v. Sandford by Roger Taney (1777-1864) – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

Like Stephen Douglas, Supreme Court Chief Justice Taney believed that his response to the slavery controversy would resolve the issue. His ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford had the opposite result, throwing the country into even greater turmoil. The case was brought by a slave, Dred Scott, who was taken by his master into territory […]

Speech on the Dred Scott Decision by Abraham Lincoln – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

Lincoln argues that Chief Justice Taney’s opinion in Dred Scott v. Sandford violated America’s founding principles and rewrote American history. June 26, 1857 …And now as to the Dred Scott decision. That decision declares two propositions–first, that a negro cannot sue in the U.S. Courts; and secondly, that Congress cannot prohibit slavery in the Territories. […]

A House Divided by Abraham Lincoln – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

Lincoln delivered this speech upon his nomination as the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Illinois, where he would square off against incumbent Senator Stephen Douglas. Drawing the leading metaphor from a passage in the Gospel of Matthew, Lincoln held that pro-slavery forces–Douglas, Franklin Pierce (president when the Kansas-Nebraska Act was adopted), Roger Taney, […]

Speech at Chicago by Stephen Douglas (1813-1861) – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

As the primary author of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the most vocal defender of the Dred Scott decision, Douglas traveled extensively promoting the concept of popular sovereignty, which he equated with republican self-government. The national reputation he garnered in the process would, he hoped, serve him well in a future presidential bid.

Seventh Lincoln-Douglas Debate – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

Lincoln and Douglas agreed to debate in all nine of the state’s congressional districts, with their recent speeches in Chicago and Springfield counting as the opening salvos. Seven debates ensued, each lasting three hours. This seventh and last debate, held in Alton, drew more than 5,000 spectators. Local and national papers–most in the service of […]

The Dividing Line between Federal and Local Authority: Popular Sovereignty in the Territories by Stephen Douglas – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

In September 1857, pro-slavery forces in Kansas drafted the Lecompton Constitution. Their anti-slavery opponents declared the document invalid, as they had not participated in its creation. Adhering to the principle of popular sovereignty, Douglas rejected the Lecompton Constitution and called for Kansans to draft a new document. Northern Democrats, dismayed by the armed conflict in […]

Address at Cooper Institute by Abraham Lincoln – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

With an eye to the Republican presidential nomination of 1860, Lincoln campaigned vigorously across the North. Responding to Stephen Douglas’s “Dividing Line” speech, he used this address to claim the mantle of America’s Founders for the Republican Party. Employing original research on the anti-slavery views of “our fathers,” Lincoln cast himself as a conservative. The […]

Reply in the Senate to William Seward by Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

The Senate of 1860 looked little like the Senate of 1790, its proceedings having degenerated into unbridled partisanship. Several years before this debate, South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks savagely beat Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner following anti-slavery remarks on the Senate floor. The South had few defenders more tenacious than Mississippi’s Senator Jefferson Davis. He had […]

Reply in the Senate to Stephen Douglas by Jefferson Davis – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

A month before this speech, the Democratic National Convention had convened in Charleston, South Carolina. When the delegates failed to adopt an explicitly pro-slavery platform, the Convention dissolved. Rival Southern and Northern Conventions reconvened in June 1860, each nominating their own presidential candidate: Stephen Douglas for the North and John Breckinridge for the South. With […]

South Carolina Secession Declaration – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

In December 1860, South Carolina announced its departure from the United States of America, citing Abraham Lincoln’s election as a primary cause. Six states quickly followed South Carolina’s lead, and on February 4, 1861, they banded together to form the Confederate States of America. December 24, 1860

Cornerstone Speech by Alexander Stephens (1812-1883) – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

Former Senator Jefferson Davis became president of the Confederate government, while former Georgia Congressman Alexander Stephens became vice president. Three weeks after Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration, Stephens delivered this speech in Savannah, identifying the cornerstone of the Confederacy as an idea opposite to the equality principle of the American founding. March 21, 1861 At half past […]

Farewell Address to the Senate by Jefferson Davis – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

Most Southern members of Congress followed their states into secession. In this farewell speech, Senator Davis expresses admiration for the late Senator John C. Calhoun, author of the nullification doctrine, and surprisingly invokes the Declaration of Independence in his cause. January 21, 1861 I rise, Mr. President, for the purpose of announcing to the Senate […]

First Inaugural Address by Abraham Lincoln – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address, delivered a month after the formation of the Confederacy, served as a final plea for Americans to reunite. Lincoln makes clear that he has no intention to change the status of slavery in the states where it exists, having no constitutional authority to do so. He makes equally clear that secession […]

Message to Congress in Special Session by Abraham Lincoln – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

On April 12, 1861, a Confederate commander informed the Union forces stationed at Fort Sumter, in the Charleston harbor, of his plans to attack. The Civil War began an hour later. President Lincoln immediately called for 75,000 volunteers. Four states from the upper South seceded over the following month. With Congress out of session, Lincoln […]

The Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

The Emancipation Proclamation, issued on September 22, 1862, promised emancipation for slaves residing in the Confederacy, unless the rebellious states returned to the Union by January 1 of the following year. The three-month deadline came and went, and slavery ceased to have legal sanction in much of the South. Although complete emancipation did not occur […]

Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

From July 1 to 3, 1863, 160,000 men from the Union and Confederate armies met at Gettysburg in southern Pennsylvania. It would prove to be the turning point of the war, but with more than 50,000 casualties from both sides it was among the most costly of battles. President Lincoln’s speech, delivered four months later, […]

Second Inaugural Address by Abraham Lincoln – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

The South’s surrender was a month away when Lincoln delivered his Second Inaugural. Lincoln looks back on the war and ahead to the task of rebuilding the nation. A little over a month later, he was assassinated. March 4, 1865 Fellow Countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there […]

Liberalism and Social Action by John Dewey (1859-1952) – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

As a leading Progressive scholar from the 1880s onward, Dewey, who taught mainly at Columbia University, devoted much of his life to redefining the idea of education. His thought was influenced by German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel, and central to it was a denial of objective truth and an embrace of historicism and moral relativism. As […]

The American Conception of Liberty by Frank Goodnow (1859-1939) – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

Progressive political science was based on the assumption that society could be organized in such a way that social ills would disappear. Goodnow, president of Johns Hopkins University and the first president of the American Political Science Association, helped pioneer the idea that separating politics from administration was the key to progress. In this speech, […]

What is Progress? by Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

After earning a Ph.D. in both history and political science at Johns Hopkins University, Wilson held various academic positions, culminating in the presidency of Princeton University. Throughout this period, he came to see the Constitution as a cumbersome instrument unfit for the government of a large and vibrant nation. This speech, delivered during his successful […]

Socialism and Democracy by Woodrow Wilson – Reprinted from The U.S. Constitution, A Reader, Published by Hillsdale College

Wilson makes clear in this article the consequences of rejecting the idea of inherent natural rights for the idea that rights are a positive grant from government. August 22, 1887 Is it possible that in practical America we are becoming sentimentalists? To judge by much of our periodical literature, one would think so. All resolution […]

Essays on Founding Documents/Readings

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 – Essay #53 – Speech on the Kansas-Nebraska Act by Abraham Lincoln – Guest Essayist: Frank M. Reilly, partner at the law firm of Potts & Reilly, L.L.P., Horseshoe Bay, Texas

Thursday, May 2, 2013 – Essay #54 – Republican Party Platform of 1856 – Guest Essayist: Scot Faulkner, Former Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives

Friday, May 3, 2013 – Essay #55 – Dred Scott v. Sandford by Justice Roger Taney – Guest Essayist: Jeffrey Reed, former Constitutional Law Professor, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky

Monday, May 6, 2013 – Essay #56 – Speech on the Dred Scott Decision by Abraham Lincoln – Guest Essayist: Professor Joerg Knipprath, Professor of Law at Southwestern Law School

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 – Essay #57 – “A House Divided” by Abraham Lincoln – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams, Program Director for the Washington-Jefferson-Madison Institute

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 – Essay #58 – Speech at Chicago by Stephen Douglas – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams, Program Director for the Washington-Jefferson-Madison Institute

Thursday, May 9, 2013 – Essay #59 – Seventh Lincoln-Douglas Debate – Guest Essayist: Charles K. Rowley, Duncan Black Professor Emeritus of Economics at George Mason University and General Director of The Locke Institute in Fairfax, Virginia

Friday, May 10, 2013 – Essay #60 – “The Dividing Line between Federal and Local Authority: Popular Sovereignty in the Territories” by Stephen Douglas – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams, Program Director for the Washington-Jefferson-Madison Institute

Monday, May 13, 2013 – Essay #61 – Address at Cooper Institute by Abraham Lincoln – Guest Essayist: Brenda Hafera, Finance and Events Co-Ordinator at the Matthew J. Ryan Center For the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good at Villanova University

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 – Essay #62 – Reply in the Senate to William Seward by Jefferson Davis – Guest Essayist: James Legee, Graduate Fellow at the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the study of Free Institutions and the Public Good, Villanova University

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 – Essay #63 – Reply in the Senate to Stephen Douglas by Jefferson Davis – Guest Essayist: Professor Joerg Knipprath, Professor of Law at Southwestern Law School

Thursday, May 16, 2013 – Essay #63 – South Carolina Secession Declaration – Guest Essayist: Horace Cooper, legal commentator and a fellow with Constituting America as well as an adjunct fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research

Friday, May 17, 2013 – Essay #65 – Cornerstone Speech by Alexander Stephens – Guest Essayist: David Eastman, Claremont Institute Abraham Lincoln Fellow

Monday, May 20, 2013 – Essay #66 -Farewell Address to the Senate by Jefferson Davis – Guest Essayist: Professor Joerg Knipprath, Professor of Law at Southwestern Law School

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 – Essay #67 – First Inaugural Address by Abraham Lincoln – Guest Essayist: Professor Will Morrisey, William and Patricia LaMothe Chair in the United States Constitution at Hillsdale College

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 – Essay #68 – Message to Congress in Special Session by Abraham Lincoln – Guest Essayist: Horace Cooper, legal commentator, contributor with Constituting America and adjunct fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research

Thursday, May 23, 2013 – Essay #69 – The Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln – Scot Faulkner, Former Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives and currently President of Friends of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Friday, May 24, 2013 – Essay #70 – The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln – Guest Essayist: Professor Will Morrisey, William and Patricia LaMothe Chair in the United States Constitution at Hillsdale College

Monday, May 27, 2013 – Essay #71 – Second Inaugural Address by Abraham Lincoln – Guest Essayist: James Legee, Graduate, Master of Arts in Political Science at Villanova University and Graduate Fellow at the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the study of Free Institutions and the Public Good

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 – Essay #72 – Liberalism and Social Action by John Dewey (1859-1952) – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams, Program Director for the Washington-Jefferson-Madison Institute in Charlottesville, VA

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 – Essay #73 – The American Conception of Liberty by Frank Goodnow – Guest Essayist: Professor Will Morrisey, William and Patricia LaMothe Chair in the United States Constitution at Hillsdale College

Thursday, May 30, 2013 – Essay #74 – “What is Progress?” by Woodrow Wilson – Guest Essayist: Robert Clinton, Professor and Chair Emeritus, Department of Political Science, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Friday, May 31, 2013 – Essay #75 – Socialism and Democracy by Woodrow Wilson – Guest Essayist: Tony Williams, Program Director of the Washington-Jefferson-Madison Institute in Charlottesville, VA