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The American Republic

Bruce Frohnen

Publication Year: 2012

Many reference works offer compilations of critical documents covering individual liberty, local autonomy, constitutional order, and other issues that helped to shape the American political tradition. Yet few of those works are available in a form suitable for classroom use, and traditional textbooks give short shrift to these important issues.

The American Republic overcomes that knowledge gap by providing, in a single volume, critical, original documents revealing the character of American discourse on the nature and importance of local government, the purposes of federal union, and the role of religion and tradition in forming America’s drive for liberty.

The American Republic is divided into nine sections, each illustrating major philosophical, cultural, and policy positions at issue during crucial eras of American development. Readers will find documentary evidence of the purposes behind European settlement, American response to English acts, the pervasive role of religion in early American public life, and perspectives in the debate over independence.

Subsequent chapters examine the roots of American constitutionalism, Federalist and Anti-Federalist arguments concerning the need to protect common law rights, and the debates over whether the states or the federal government held final authority in determining the course of public policy in America. Also included are the discussions regarding disagreements over internal improvements and other federal measures aimed at binding the nation, particularly in the area of commerce.

The final section focuses on the political, cultural, and legal issues leading to the Civil War. Arguments and attempted compromises regarding slavery, along with laws that helped shape slavery, are highlighted. The volume ends with the prelude to the Civil War, a natural stopping-off point for studies of early American history.

By bringing together key original documents and other writings that explain cultural, religious, and historical concerns, this volume gives students, teachers, and general readers an effective way to begin examining the diversity of issues and influences that characterize American history. The result unquestionably leads to a deeper and more thorough understanding of America's political, institutional, and cultural continuity and change.

Bruce P. Frohnen is Associate Professor of Law at Ohio Northern University College of Law. He holds a J.D. from the Emory University School of Law and a Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University. Click here to print or download The American Republic index.

Published by: Liberty Fund

Title Page, Copyright, Editorial Board

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-ix

Alphabetical Table of Contents

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pp. xi-xii

Alphabetical List of Authors

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pp. xiii-xvi

Illustrations

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pp. xvii-xx

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Introduction

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pp. xxi-xix

In the latter decades of the twentieth century scholars working in various subfields of American history brought a great deal of formerly neglected material to light. This material concerns issues ranging from the role of religious arguments and leaders in public...

Note on the Texts

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pp. xxi-

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I. Colonial Settlements and Societies

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pp. 1-3

No people has a true “beginning.” Just as individuals come from families and neighborhoods, which instill them with certain beliefs and habits from an early age, so peoples come from other places and communities; they do not simply assemble and form...

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Virginia Articles, Laws, and Orders, p. 4

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pp. 4-10

Virginia, the first English colony in America, was set up with a view toward economic profit. In the early years there were no profits. Life was harsh, and many people died from disease, hunger, and skirmishes with the Indians. The governing council, appointed in England,...

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The Mayflower Compact 1620, p. 11

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pp. 11-

The Puritans originally sought to settle near preexisting communities in the colony of Virginia. Their ship, the Mayflower, was blown off course, and they landed far to the north. But they had intended from the first to establish...

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Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, 1639, p. 12

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pp. 12-

English settlements were formed with the official sanction, and under the English-written rules, of colonial charters. But these charters were often undermined by events in the New World— most particularly by the movement of people seeking better land, safety, and other...

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The Massachusetts Body of Liberties, 1641, p. 15

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pp. 15-22

The Puritan leader and former lawyer Nathaniel Ward proposed this code summarizing and systematizing laws already enacted in Massachusetts. Based on principles derived from biblical, or Mosaic, law and England’s common, or judge-made, law, this code intentionally served...

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Charter of Liberties and Frame of Government of the Province of Pennsylvania in America, 1682, p. 23

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pp. 23-30

William Penn was the royal proprietor of the colony or province of Pennsylvania. He had the power to set up a government with almost no checks on his own power. Yet the Charter of Liberties he issued set up...

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Dorchester Agreement, 1633, p. 31

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pp. 31-

The New England town meeting, so often seen as the heart of American democratic practice, was often a quite formal affair. Rules of order were developed over time, and the institution itself was often grounded in official documents. The township of...

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Maryland Act for Swearing Allegiance, 1638; Plymouth Oath of Allegiance and Fidelity, 1625, p. 32

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pp. 32-33

Current American oaths, including that demanded of witnesses giving testimony at trial and the so-called Pledge of Allegiance, constitute remnants of a centuries-long tradition demanding that citizens and subjects bind themselves to their political communities and leaders. England’s...

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"Little Speech on Liberty," John Winthrop, 1645, p. 34

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pp. 34-35

John Winthrop (1588 –1649) was the son of a lawyer and himself practiced law until 1629 when, after the death of his second wife, his disillusionment with religious and political life in England caused him to seek a better life in New England...

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"Copy of a Letter from Mr. Cotton to Lord Say and Seal," John Cotton, 1636

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pp. 36-38

John Cotton (1584 –1652), the son of a successful lawyer, was a prominent minister in England until 1633. In that year, his skills and connections finally failed to protect him from a hostile Anglican hierarchy, and he...

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2. Religious Society and Religious Liberty in Early America

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pp. 39-41

Throughout America, as throughout Europe, religious life and political life were intimately tied during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Debates over religious toleration generally concerned...

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"The Bloody Tenent, of Persecution, for Cause of Conscience," Roger Williams, 1644, p. 42

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pp. 42-47

Throughout America, as throughout Europe, religious life and political life were intimately tied during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Debates over religious toleration generally concerned...

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"A Platform of Church Discipline," John Cotton, Richard Mather, and Ralph Partridge, 1649, p. 48

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pp. 48-63

This “Platform of Church Discipline” was drawn up by John Cotton, Richard Mather, and Ralph Partridge at the request of a synod, or convocation of church leaders, in Massachusetts held in 1648. The General Court, the highest political body in that colony, subsequently adopted it...

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Providence Agreement, 1637; Maryland Act for Church Liberties, 1638; Pennsylvania Act for Freedom of Conscience, 1682, p. 64

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pp. 64-65

Banished from Salem, Massachusetts, for his democratic views of church government, Roger Williams went to Rhode Island to found its earliest settlement at Providence. One of the first political compacts, the Providence Agreement...

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Worcestriensis, 1776, p. 66

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pp. 66-68

The anonymous author ofWorcestriensis (“From Worcester”) addressed himself to the legislature of Massachusetts in the midst of the War for Independence. This was also a time during which citizens of the new state of Massachusetts were making modifications in their form of government...

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"Thanksgiving Proclamation" and Letters to Religious Associations, George Washington; 1789, 1790, p. 69

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pp. 69-71

It was common practice in America, both before and after the Revolution, for political leaders to call for days of thanksgiving, as well as days of fasting and prayer, to mark great events and significant tragedies affecting the American republic. Here, Washington proclaims a Day of Thanksgiving...

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"Farewell Address, " George Washington, 1796, p. 72

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pp. 72-78

Throughout his public career and well after, Washington presented himself as the citizen soldier who gave up the quiet life he loved in order to serve his country in time of need. This model of virtue, which Washington believed he had a duty to both follow and exemplify, rested...

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"The Rights of Conscience Inalienable," John Leland, 1791, p. 79

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pp. 79-87

John Leland (1754 –1841) was a Baptist minister, a political ally of James Madison, and a tireless advocate of religious disestablishment. Among the most radical proponents of eliminating restrictions on political rights for religious dissenters, he worked against the Episcopal Church in...

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"Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association," Thomas Jefferson, 1802, p. 88

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pp. 88-

Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association expresses the belief that religious and public life should be kept strictly separate. In the letter, Jefferson articulates only one of several American views on the proper relationship between religion and...

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3. Defending the Charters

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pp. 89-91

Immigrants to America brought with them a long tradition of chartered rights. In determining the limits of political authority, they looked to a rich history, encapsulated in several important documents, of social and political custom. From Magna Charta...

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Magna Charta, 1215, p. 92

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pp. 92-97

Magna Charta was the result of victory on the battlefield by barons (local lords) opposed to England’s King John. Negotiated in the days following the battle at Runnemede, it was no theoretical document. It lists numerous specific, customary rights that the barons asserted they had held...

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Petition of Right, 1628, p. 98

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pp. 98-100

The unpopular foreign wars waged by England’s Charles I had led his Parliament to refuse to grant him increased tax monies. Charles had responded by forcing wealthy subjects to lend money to his government, quartering his troops in private homes, and arbitrarily arresting...

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"An Account of the Late Revolution in New Englan" and "Boston Declaration of Grievances," Nathanael Byfield, 1689, p. 101

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pp. 101-105

James II was the younger son of the beheaded Charles I. In 1685, James succeeded his brother, Charles II, who had been restored to the throne in 1660. Unlike his brother, James did not believe it necessary to limit his claims to unchecked power in the light of parliamentary power and...

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The English Bill of Rights, 1689

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pp. 106-109

After James II fled his throne, frightened by the army brought to England by William of Orange and the lack of support he found among his own people, a convention was called to determine who would succeed him and...

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The Stamp Act, 1765, p. 110

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pp. 110-114

After fighting several wars against France during the eighteenth century, Great Britain found itself with vast new territories in North America and a vast public debt. Seeking new sources to tax, Parliament hit upon the colonists in America. The justification for taxing Americans was that they had not been paying...

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"Braintree Instructions," John Adams, 1765, p. 115

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pp. 115-116

John Adams (1735–1826) was only thirty-one years old when he penned these instructions from his township to their colonial representative, but they were accepted unanimously and without amendment by his neighbors. In the instructions, the future revolutionary leader and second...

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Resolutions of the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1765; Declarations of the Stamp Act Congress, 1765, p. 117

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pp. 117-118

Opposition to the Stamp Act was strong, wide, and at times violent throughout the American colonies. For centuries, English subjects had responded to unpopular acts and legislation by petitioning the king for redress of their grievances. The colonists had been enthusiastic participants...

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"The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved," James Otis, 1763, p. 119

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pp. 119-134

James Otis (1725– 83) was a lawyer, colonial official, and leading advocate for the rights of his fellow American colonists. In 1761, he resigned his post as advocate general of the Vice Admiralty Court to protest the issuance of writs of assistance by the Massachusetts superior court. These writs essentially...

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The Act Repealing the Stamp Act, 1766; The Declatory Act, 1766, p. 135

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pp. 135-136

American opposition to the Stamp Act, particularly the boycotts of taxed goods in which merchants and common colonials engaged with enthusiasm, caused a significant decline in Britishcolonial trade. By 1766, Parliament decided that the taxes were costing more in reduced trade than they were bringing in through taxes, and the Stamp Act was repealed...

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4. The War for Independence

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pp. 137-139

The relative peace achieved after Parliament’s repeal of the Stamp Act was short-lived. In 1767, Parliament passed the Townshend Acts, which reinstituted direct taxation on the colonies and imposed antismuggling regulations and legal proceedings at least as troublesome...

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"A Discourse at the Dedication of the Tree of Liberty," "A Son of Liberty" [Silas Downer], 1768, p. 140

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pp. 140-145

Silas Downer (1729– 85) was a prominent lawyer who was active in Rhode Island politics and was among the more prominent figures opposed to the Townshend Acts. The speech reproduced here (published under the pseudonym “A Son of Liberty”) was delivered at the dedication of a Tree of...

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"Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania," Letters V and IX, John Dickinson, 1767-68, p. 146

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pp. 146-153

John Dickinson (1732–1808) was a lawyer, a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly, and a leading spokesman against parliamentary power in America. His argument, that Parliament’s acts constituted dangerous innovations violating ancient chartered rights, became the centerpiece of colonial opposition to the Stamp Act and subsequent parliamentary...

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Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress, 1774, p. 154

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pp. 154-156

Americans responded to the Townshend Acts as they had responded to the Stamp Act—with declarations of grievances and through boycotts and occasional violence. But Parliament’s reaction was significantly harsher than it had been during the Stamp Act crisis, particularly after the Boston Tea Party in 1773 resulted in the destruction...

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Virginia Bill of Rights, 1776, p. 157

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pp. 157-158

Opposition to Britain in the colonial legislatures was intense. The Bill of Rights passed by the Virginia House of Burgesses presents arguments foreshadowing the soon-to-be-issued Declaration of Independence, asserting colonists’ equality with all other British subjects and calling...

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"On Civil Liberty, Passive Obedience, and Non-resistance," Jonathan Boucher, 1775, p. 159

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pp. 159-178

Jonathan Boucher (1738 –1804) was an Episcopal minister and tutor to, among others, the stepson of George Washington. A loyalist, or “Tory,” who believed the colonists had no right to rebel against the acts of Parliament, Boucher preached nonresistance to an increasingly hostile...

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Common Sense, Thomas Paine, 1776, p. 179

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pp. 179-188

Thomas Paine (1737–1809) was born in England but frequently referred to himself as a “citizen of the world.” He moved to America in 1774, where he was soon involved in the struggle with Great Britain. Paine’s powerful rhetoric had a significant effect on the course of events in America...

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The Declaration of Independence, 1776, p. 189

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pp. 189-192

By the time the Continental Congress had decided to declare independence from Great Britain, armed conflict had been raging for more than a year. Soldiers on both sides were dying, and it was becoming increasingly clear that Parliament would not accede to American colonists’ demands....

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5. A New Constitution

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pp. 193-195

By the time the American Revolution came to its close, Americans had a great deal of experience in drafting frames of government or constitutions. Inheritors of a long tradition of charter writing, Americans had...

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"Thoughts on Government," John Adams, 1776, p. 196

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pp. 196-199

Adams was among the most influential leaders of the founding generation. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation and was the primary author of the Massachusetts Constitution...

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Articles of Confederation, 1778, p. 200

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pp. 200-204

Still embroiled in a life-or-death struggle with Great Britain, the new United States by 1778 had determined to formalize their relationship with one another and to set up a formal means by which to deal with their common concerns—of which the war was, of course, the most important...

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The Essex Result, 1778, p. 205

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pp. 205-224

The constitution eventually adopted by the state of Massachusetts in 1780 was very much the product of local participation. A proposed draft was sent to the various counties and, in several cases, rejected. The most eloquent response came from Essex County, which, under the leadership...

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Northwest Ordinance, 1787, p. 231

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pp. 225-228

The Northwest Ordinance made it clear to the world that the thirteen states would soon multiply through settlement in the area north of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi Rivers. Already populated by increasing numbers...

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Albany Plan of Union, 1754, p. 229

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pp. 229-230

Great Britain’s frequent wars with France often produced violent conflicts within or near the American colonies. These conflicts, combined with frequent skirmishes between settlers and native American Indians, caused Americans to fear for their safety. The Albany Plan of Union,...

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Virginia and New Jersey Plans, 1787, p. 231

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pp. 230-233

Virginia was a prime mover behind calls for a convention to alter the Articles of Confederation. As the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia, the Virginia delegation, led by Edmund Randolph, sought to seize the initiative by quickly dispensing with the stated plan of merely reforming the Articles. Virginia instead presented a...

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The Constitution of the United States of America, 1787, p. 241

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pp. 234-240

The U.S. Constitution is the world’s oldest written national constitution still in effect. It sets forth the structure of the new government, assigning powers and establishing procedures for election and appointment among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches—...

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The Federalist Papers 1, 9, 10, 39, 47-51, 78; Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay; 1787, p. 241

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pp. 241-267

The new Constitution was not easily ratified. Rhode Island refused even to send delegates to the Constitutional Convention. A number of powerful political figures, including Virginia’s firebrand Patrick Henry and New York governor George Clinton, lined up early to oppose it. Even...

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"Address of the Minority of the Pennsylvania Convention," 1787, p. 268

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pp. 268-280

During debate over the Constitution’s ratification by the Pennsylvania convention. The authors of “The Address and Reasons of Dissent of the Minority of the Convention of Pennsylvania to Their Constituents” were not...

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"An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution," Noah Webster, 1787, p. 281

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pp. 281-296

Noah Webster (1758 –1843) was an educator, an author of children’s primers, and the compiler of the first American dictionary. This last project was taken on out of a concern, shared with Benjamin Franklin, to free Americans from cultural subservience to Great Britain. Webster, an ardent...

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6. The Bill of Rights

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pp. 297-299

Opposition to the new Constitution was rooted in fear that the new, more powerful central government would invade the accustomed rights of the states and of the people. Whether as subjects of British colonies or citizens of independent states, Americans had always ruled themselves in most matters—looking...

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The Federalist, Papers 84 and 85; Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay; 1787, p. 300

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pp. 300-308

In these selections we see the main line of Federalist argument: that a Bill of Rights was unnecessary and dangerous. It was unnecessary because the Constitution granted only certain clearly defined powers to the central government. It was dangerous because any attempt to reduce...

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"Letter I," "Centinel," 1787, p. 300

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pp. 309-313

The letters of “Centinel” were probably written by Samuel Bryan, son of Judge George Bryan, who was a leader of Pennsylvania Anti-Federalists. They first appeared in the Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer (from which this selection is taken) and the Philadelphia Freeman’s...

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"Essay I," "Brutus," 1787, p. 314

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pp. 314-319

The essays of “Brutus” were probably written by Robert Yates. Yates was a judge, a dissenting member of the Constitutional Convention, and an ally of Governor George Clinton of New York. The pseudonym was meant to remind readers of Marcus Junius Brutus, who assassinated...

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"Letter III," "The Federal Farmer," 1787, p. 320

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pp. 320-325

For many years generally attributed to Virginia statesman Richard Henry Lee, Letters from the Federal Farmer have more recently been attributed to Melancton Smith, a New York merchant and opponent of Alexander Hamilton in the New York ratifying convention. The first set of letters...

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"Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments," James Madison, 1785; "Virginia Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom," Thomas Jefferson, 1786, p. 327

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pp. 327-331

While the controversy over Virginia’s proposed Bill for Religious Education took place before the Constitutional Convention, it is directly relevant to any informed reading of the First Amendment’s language concerning religious freedom. The Virginia state legislature had proposed legislation...

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"Speech Introducing Proposed Constitutional Amendments," James Madison, 1789; The First Ten Amendments to the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights, 1789, p. 332

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pp. 332-350

Many of those who eventually voted to ratify the Constitution did so with the understanding, or at least the hope, that the document would be amended as soon as the new Congress met. James Madison was a principal member of the first House of Representatives to meet after ratification...

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Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, Joseph Story, 1833, p. 351

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pp. 351-362

Joseph Story (1779–1845) was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, a stronghold of Federalist sentiment. Nonetheless, he was a committed supporter of the Democratic-Republican Party. Elected to the House of Representatives before he had reached the age of thirty, at thirty-one...

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The People v. Ruggles, James Kent, 1811, p. 363

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pp. 363-365

At the time of America’s break with Great Britain, most law on both sides of the Atlantic was not written in statute books. Instead, judges applied the common law in judging disputes and criminal cases brought before them. Common law was the tradition established by custom, interpreted...

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Marbury V. Madison, John Marshall, 1803, p. 366

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pp. 366-374

Federalist president John Adams lost his 1800 bid for reelection to his political adversary, Thomas Jefferson, head of the new Democratic-Republican Party. After losing, but before Jefferson had replaced him in office, Adams and his Senate supporters pushed through a number of federal...

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Barron v. the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, John Marshall, 1833, p. 375

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pp. 375-378

The city of Baltimore undertook a number of road and harbor improvements to accommodate its expanding population and commercial activity. Between the years 1815 and 1821 these improvements, including diversion of area waterways, made the water shallower around a wharf owned...

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7. State versus Federal Authority

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pp. 379-381

One of the central issues at the Constitutional Convention and at the conventions called to consider ratifying that Constitution was this: How could Americans form a government to address their common problems without losing the sovereignty of their individual...

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"Essay V," "Brutus," 1787, p. 382

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pp. 382-385

In this essay, “Brutus” resurrects the American colonists’ distinction between “internal” and “external” taxation. In effect likening the federal government to Great Britain’s empire, Brutus argues that no central government can directly tax the goods or property of a people without...

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Chisholm v. George, James Wilson, 1793; U.S. Constitution, Eleventh Amendment, 1787, p. 386

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pp. 386-395

In 1792, the executors of the estate of Alexander Chisholm, a citizen of South Carolina, sued the state of Georgia for failing to pay debts owed to Chisholm. Georgia refused to appear in court, claiming that, as a sovereign state, it could not be sued without its own consent. The Supreme...

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The Alien and Sedition Acts, 1798; Counter-resolutions of Other States, 1799; Report of Virginia House of Delegates, 1799, p. 396

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pp. 396-432

During 1797 and 1798, American diplomats met with officials of the French revolutionary government in an attempt to negotiate continued peace between the two countries. During these negotiations, the French officials...

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"The Duty of Americans, at the Present Crises," Timothy Dwight, 1798, p. 433

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pp. 433-446

Timothy Dwight (1752–1817) was a strict Calvinist minister, an author of patriotic songs and poems, president of Yale College, and secretary of the Hartford Convention that considered New England’s grievances arising from the War of 1812 (see the next selection). The sermon reproduced here was preached on the Fourth of July, 1798, in the midst...

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Report of the Hartford Convention, 1815, p. 447

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pp. 447-457

On December 15, 1814, a group of delegates from states and counties in New England met in Hartford, Connecticut, to discuss problems arising from the War of 1812. The convention secretary was Timothy Dwight. New England had consistently opposed the war with Great Britain. The Federalist Party, which remained strong in this region despite its...

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Joseph Story: Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 1833; A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States, 1840, 458

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pp. 458-470

Seven years after the first publication of Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, Story published a version for high school and college students under the title A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the...

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8. Forging a Nation

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pp. 471-473

The clear continuities in American politics and culture played an important role in the development of the Republic but do not overshadow the significant developments brought about by the Revolution and the construction of a new, independent government for the United States. Furthermore, America...

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"Opinion against the Constitutionality of a National Bank," Thomas Jefferson, 1791; "Opinion as to the Constitutionality of the Bank of the United States," Alexander Hamilton, 1791, p. 474

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pp. 474-490

Alexander Hamilton served as President Washington’s secretary of the treasury. One of his early legislative proposals was for the formation of a Bank of the United States. The bank would take deposits from and lend money to the federal government, as well as establish a common...

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"Veto Message," Andrew Jackson, 1832, p. 491

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pp. 491-500

It was Jefferson’s close ally and presidential successor, James Madison, who oversaw the chartering of a second Bank of the United States after the first bank’s charter expired in 1811. Madison had supported the first bank and, after the War of 1812 left inflation and a large national...

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"Veto Message," James Madison, 1817, p. 501

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pp. 501-502

Madison split with Jefferson in supporting a national bank. But Madison held to Jefferson’s strict construction of the powers granted the federal government by the Constitution in regard to internal improvements—the building of federal roads, canals, and the like. The bill for which...

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Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, Joseph Story, 1833, p. 503

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pp. 503-517

In these sections of Commentaries, Story spells out the view that the commerce power is exclusive rather than concurrent; that because Congress has the power to regulate commerce the states cannot have that same power. In addition, Story interprets the Constitution as supporting...

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Abraham Lincoln: "Address to the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois," 1838; "Address to the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, Milwaukee, Wisconsin," 1859, p. 518

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pp. 518-527

Lincoln began his political career as an Illinois Whig—as a member of a political party devoted to high tariffs and internal improvements. Born and raised on the frontier, his life was in large measure spent attempting to tame it—to spread law (his chosen profession) and commerce...

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William Leggett: Newspaper Editorials on "Direct Taxation," 1834; "Chief Justice Marshall," 1835; "The Despotism of the Majority," 1837; "Morals of Legislation," 1837; and "The Morals of Politics," 1837, p

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pp. 528-535

William Leggett (1801–39) was a newspaper editor in New York City at a time when many papers vied for readership, party patronage, and political influence through their pages. Leggett’s forceful editorials calling for equal rights, economic liberty, and the reduction of government programs were influential during his lifetime and long after...

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"Speech on Electioneering," Davy Crockett, 1848, p. 536

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pp. 536-537

David “Davy” Crockett (1786 –1836) had little education, but his personal charm, romantic background, and storytelling ability made him a powerful political figure. He opposed his fellow Tennesseean Andrew Jackson’s policies against internal improvements and sought, against Jackson’s...

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"Speech before the U.S. Senate," Daniel Webster, 1830; "Speech before the U.S. Senate," Robert Y. Hayne, 1830, p. 538

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pp. 538-564

The following two speeches are taken from what has become known as the Webster-Hayne Debate. This series of speeches took place in January of 1830 between Robert Y. Hayne, senator from South Carolina, and Daniel Webster, senator from Massachusetts. It began on January 19, when Hayne made a speech on the Senate floor. That speech...

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"Fort Hill Address," John C. Calhoun, 1831, p. 656

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pp. 565-578

John C. Calhoun (1782–1850) was a congressman and senator from South Carolina who also served as vice president under President Andrew Jackson. An early supporter of a strong national government, he also supported the War of 1812 and, in the beginning, the American system of...

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9. Prelude to War

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pp. 579-581

Americans’ regional differences date from the earliest colonial settlements. Furthermore, such factors as climate; soil; and early political, economic, and religious structure soon formed distinct regional American communities and characters. Such regional diversity helped...

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Laws Regulating Servants and Slaves, 1630-1852, p. 582

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pp. 582-588

Americans were concerned with the problem of runaway servants before their colonies contained significant numbers of black African slaves. Apprenticeship and the practice of indentured servitude created a class of persons who might see it in their selfinterest to run away. Thus, colonial laws early on took notice of the need to recapture runaway servants...

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"Slavery" and "Agriculture and the Militia," John Taylor of Caroline, 1818, p. 589

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pp. 589-593

John Taylor (1753–1824) lived the bulk of his life in Caroline County, Virginia, taking time from his plantation to serve as a state legislator and member of the U.S. Senate. He worked against ratification of the Constitution, introduced James Madison’s Resolutions against the Alien and Sedition Acts in the Virginia House of Delegates, fought...

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The Missouri Compromise, 1820-21, p. 594

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pp. 594-

The Missouri Territory sought to enter the union as a state in 1818. Because its proposed constitution allowed slavery, this would have given slave-holding states a numerical advantage in the U.S. Senate, then evenly divided between slave-holding and non-slave-holding states. James Tallmadge, a congressman from New York, sought to insert in Missouri’s...

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William Leggett: Newspaper Editorials on "Governor McDuffie's Message, 1835; "The Question of Slavery Narrowed to a Point," 1837; and "Abolition Insolence," 1837, p. 595

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pp. 595-599

Leggett believed that his opposition to slavery was the logical extension of Jacksonian principles of liberty and equality. But his willingness to discuss the abolition of slavery and defend the rights of abolitionists caused significant problems within Jackson’s Democratic Republican Party. In New York, a small wing of radical democrats called the loco...

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Senate Speeches on the Compromise of 1850, John C. Calhoun and Daniel Webster, 1850, p. 600

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pp. 600-632

Both of the speeches reproduced here were originally delivered on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Calhoun was too ill to deliver his own speech but was carried into the chamber to hear it read for him. He appeared despite his grave illness (he would die only days later) because of the importance he, like Webster, attached to the issues under consideration...

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Second Fugitive Slave Law, 1850; Ableman v. Booth, Roger Taney, 1858, p. 633

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pp. 633-645

The Fugitive Slave Law of 1793 was never well enforced inNorthern states. As time went on and abolitionist sentiment grew, a number of states went so far as to forbid their officers to assist those hunting runaways and to enact personal liberty laws, which guaranteed jury trials for persons accused of being runaway slaves. The strengthened Fugitive Slave...

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Scott v. Sandford, Roger Taney, 1856, p. 646

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pp. 646-664

Dred Scott was the slave of John Emerson, an army doctor who took Scott with him for extended stays in Illinois and the Territory of Wisconsin—both of which banned slavery. On Emerson’s death, Scott became the property of his widow, whom he sued for his freedom in 1846. While the case was still in the courts, Mrs. Emerson transferred...

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"The Relative Position and Treatment of the Negroes" and "The Abolitionists-Consistency of Their Labors," George S. Sawyer, 1858, p. 665

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pp. 665-689

As the struggle over slavery and its position within the United States intensified, abolitionist statements concerning the evils of slavery were met with statements by Southerners—and also by some Northerners—defending the institution. George S. Sawyer, a Southern slaveholder...

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"What is Slavery?" and "Slavery Is Despotism," Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1853, p. 690

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pp. 690-701

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–96) was the daughter of the famous New England minister Lyman Beecher. She is the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an abolitionist novel written in response to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. The book sold more than 300,000 copies in its first year. Two years later, Stowe published A key to Uncle Tom’s cabin; presenting...

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Kansas-Nebraska Act, 1856; Fifth Lincoln-Douglas Debate, 1858, p. 702

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pp. 702-722

The line drawn by the Missouri Compromise, forbidding slavery north of Missouri’s southern border in territory from the Louisiana Purchase, brought on bloody conflict between pro- and antislavery forces; this effectively stopped the admission of new states from the area. Finally,...

Bibliography, p. 723

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pp. 723-724

Index, p. 725

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pp. 725-743

Publication Information

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p. 768-768


E-ISBN-13: 9781614877974
E-ISBN-10: 1614877971
Print-ISBN-13: 9780865973336

Page Count: 752
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: New Edition

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Subject Headings

  • United States -- History -- Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775 -- Sources.
  • United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Sources.
  • United States -- History -- 1783-1865 -- Sources.
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