America’s First Principles

Rediscovering America’s First Principles

3 video series: Links to videos
(each ~43+ minutes long)

Part 1: The Roots of American Liberty (45:58 min)
Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.

Part 2: We Hold TheseTruths (53 min)
Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.

Part 3: Faith and Free Government (42:57 min)
Matthew Spalding, Ph.D.


IMPRIMIS: Margaret Thatcher
on the Moral Foundations of Society

Imprimis, 3/95 (added 12/18/10)
(6-pg .pdf file)



Judicial Usurpation & the Constitution Lecture
(10-pg .pdf file)


 The Constitution Reader

From: Hillsdale College, Alan P. Kirby, Jr.
Center for Constitutional Studies & Citizenship
Political Science 101: The U.S. Constitution

The mission of Hillsdale College, as set forth in its original Articles of Association, is to provide “sound learning” of the sort needed to perpetuate the blessings of “civil and religious liberty and intelligent piety.” In keeping with this mission, Hillsdale is one of very few colleges and universities outside our service academies where all students, regardless of major, take a course on the U.S. Constitution as part of their core requirements.

The course begins with a detailed examination of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Click here to read an introduction to these documents by Kirby Center Director David J. Bobb.

The course continues with other primary source documents of the founding era, and then covers the great challenge to constitutionalism in the secession crisis of the 1850s, which culminated in the Civil War, as well as the departures from constitutional principles and practices during the Progressive Movement and by that movement’s modern heirs.

Just as we hope that students in the Hillsdale Constitution course will develop an appreciation of the Founders’ understanding of human nature, the rule of law, the separation of powers, federalism, justice, and property rights, so too do we hope that you also will gain that same appreciation in encountering these documents. The distinctions between liberty and license and between tyrannical and legitimate government, and the connection between rights and duties – these are essential ideas for every American citizen.

In short, this Reader is collated to convey the conditions of liberty, the extent to which and manner in which those conditions have been undermined, and how they might be recovered and preserved.

We hope you find this on-line version of the Reader helpful in your own study.  If you are interested in being notified when The Hillsdale College Constitution Reader is available for purchase in hard copy, please e-mail, subject line “Reader,” and we’ll notify you when it has been published.

Table of Contents

I. Natural Rights and the American Revolution

II. The Founders on Religion

III. Government under the Articles of Confederation

IV. Rethinking the Nature of Union and the Structure of Government

V. The Three Branches of Government

VI. The Founders on Slavery and the Rise of the Positive Good School, and the Roots of the Secession Crisis

VII. Crisis of Constitutional Government

VIII. Secession and Civil War

IX. The Progressive Rejection of the Founding

X. Institutionalizing Progressivism: The New Deal and the Great Society