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A collection of articles and links to sites that provide good reading material.

The Magna Carta

Abuses by King John caused a revolt by nobles who compelled him to execute this recognition of rights for both noblemen and ordinary Englishmen. It established the principle that no one, including the king or a lawmaker, is above the law.

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787

An Ordinance for the government of the Territory of the United States northwest of the River Ohio.

Articles of Confederation

Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-bay Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

The Federalist Papers

Anti-Federalist Papers

During the period from the drafting and proposal of the federal Constitution in September, 1787, to its ratification in 1789 there was an intense debate on ratification. The principal arguments in favor of it were stated in the series written by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay called the Federalist Papers, although they were not as widely read as numerous independent local speeches and articles. The arguments against ratification appeared in various forms, by various authors, most of whom used a pseudonym. Collectively, these writings have become known as the Anti-Federalist Papers. We here present some of the best and most widely read of these. They contain warnings of dangers from tyranny that weaknesses in the proposed Constitution did not adequately provide against, and while some of those weaknesses were corrected by adoption of the Bill of Rights, others remained, and some of these dangers are now coming to pass.

The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787

Notes on the Federal Convention Debates as taken by James Madison.

Common Sense by Thomas Paine

Published in 1776, Common Sense challenged the authority of the British government and the royal monarchy. The plain language that Paine used spoke to the common people of America and was the first work to openly ask for independence from Great Britain.

Give Me Liverty or Give Me Death

Famous peech by Patrick Henry as given on March 23, 1775.

The Law

When a reviewer wishes to give special recognition to a book, he predicts that it will still be read “a hundred years from now.” The Law, first published as a pamphlet in June, 1850, is already more than a hundred years old. And because its truths are eternal, it will still be read when another century has passed.

Democracy In America

AMONG the novel objects that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, nothing struck me more forcibly than the general equality of condition among the people. I readily discovered the prodigious influence that this primary fact exercises on the whole course of society; it gives a peculiar direction to public opinion and a peculiar tenor to the laws; it imparts new maxims to the governing authorities and peculiar habits to the governed…

George Washington’s Farewell Address

Friends and Fellow-Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen, to administer the executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed designating the person, who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made…

Inaugural Address of Thomas Jefferson

Called upon to undertake the duties of the first executive office of our country, I avail myself of the presence of that portion of my fellow-citizens which is here assembled to express my grateful thanks for the favor with which they have been pleased to look toward me, to declare a sincere consciousness that the task is above my talents, and that I approach it with those anxious and awful presentiments which the greatness of the charge and the weakness of my powers so justly inspire. A rising nation, spread over a wide and fruitful land, traversing all the seas with the rich productions of their industry, engaged in commerce with nations who feel power and forget right, advancing rapidly to destinies beyond the reach h of mortal eye–when I contemplate these transcendent objects, and see the honor, the happiness, and the hopes of this beloved country committed to the issue, and the auspices of this day, I shrink from the contemplation, and humble myself before the magnitude of the undertaking…

The Constitutionality of Civil Disobedience

Civil Disobedience is as old as our species, as old as war and peace. War lords and priests have always differed over the holy and the profane – City of God and City of Man. Popular protests are chronicled in Homer and Rig-Veda, Bible and Scripture, Talmud and Koran. Establishments have been in constant fear of protesters: Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Father Daniel Berrigan, and Civil Disobedience – Vietnam; WTO. Civil Disobedience has never been easy or safe; but in America it is constitutional: Civil Disobedience is at the heart of both British and American constitutionalism. It is as hallowed as Magna Carta and as powerful as the deposition of President Richard Nixon.

Uneducated Electorate Facilitates Abuse of The Constitution

It is reported that immediately after the Constitutional Convention as Benjamin Franklin was leaving the hall, a lady approached him and asked: “Mr. Franklin, what have you given us?” He replied: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

This was no Constitutional Convention. Franklin recognized that the grand experiment – a Constitution that provided something new – a government created by the people for the people, would require a dedicated electorate to maintain…