We have just launched an exciting project on the NCC’s website: The Founders’ Library. In it, you can read primary texts that span American constitutional history—from the philosophical works that influenced the Founding generation, to the most important speeches, essays, books, pamphlets, petitions, letters, court cases, landmark statutes, and state constitutions that have shaped the American constitutional tradition. To ensure nonpartisan rigor and ideological diversity, we assembled a group of leading scholars from diverse perspectives to help choose the sources included in the document library.
Two of those scholars—Paul Rahe of Hillsdale College and Jonathan Gienapp from Stanford University—join host Jeffrey Rosen today to discuss some of the early texts from the Founders’ Library.
Read Professor Rahe’s picks from the Intellectual Foundations of the American Founding (Before 1750):
Thucydides — Thucydides, The War between the Athenians and the Peloponnesians (ca. 431-400 BC)
Bacon & Hobbes (together) — Francis Bacon, “Selected Excerpts” (1620) and Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, or the Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiastical and Civil (1651)
James Harrington — James Harrington, The Commonwealth of Oceana (1656)
Locke – religious toleration, right to revolution — John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689) and Two Treatises on Government (1690)
Hume & Adam Smith — David Hume, Essays Moral, Political and Literary (1741-58) and Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776)
Montesquieu — Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws (1748)
Read Professor Gienapp’s picks from the Founding Era (1750-1790):
John Dickinson, Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies (1768)
William Cushing, Instructions to the Jury in the Quock Walker Case, Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Nathaniel Jennison (1783)
James Iredell, To the Public (1786)
George Mason, Objections to the Constitution of Government formed by the Convention (1787)
Questions or comments about the show? Email us at [email protected]
Continue today’s conversation on Facebook and Twitter using @ConstitutionCtr.
Sign up to receive Constitution Weekly, our email roundup of constitutional news and debate, at bit.ly/constitutionweekly.