The Foundation of a Nation

The Declaration of Independence announced to the world the principles of good government. All men stand equal before God, and so they should stand equal before the law. That regime is just only which arises from consent of those governed and is maintained for the protection of their rights and responsibilities. The Constitution of 1787 set these principles at the heart of American government. A series of checks and balances, separated powers, and republican institutions keep us free and teach us to use our freedom well.

No government had ever framed itself around this concept of ordered liberty. Nevertheless, thinkers throughout history had written about liberty, justice, and equality. The framers of the Declaration and Constitution drew from a rich intellectual tradition spanning thousands of years. Debates over the nature of the best regime, the balance between freedom and authority, and the limits of majority will made their way into the American structure of government.

Recommended Resources

Step into these debates, and learn about the frame of American government, using the resources below. Teaching somebody else? We hope you will find the wealth of free online curricula invaluable, especially in the time of COVID-19. 

Online Library of Liberty | Discover a comprehensive collection of public domain works in economics, political theory, history, philosophy, and theology from throughout Western History.

Founders Archive | Explore a comprehensive collection of records, correspondences, government documents, and related primary sources from the founding era, organized by founder.

Our Documents | Enjoy a curated collection of 100 most important and influential government documents, presidential speeches, and Supreme Court opinions.

Hillsdale College Online | Enjoy free courses on American constitutional principles, American history, and the Western tradition.

Strengthening Democracy in America | From the Center for Civic Education, explore this video curriculum introducing American political system.

Free Speech Curriculum | From the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, this high school curriculum covers the principles and applications of the right to speech.

Interactive Constitute | From the National Constitution Center

Engaging Congress | Explore Congress with this game produced by IU Center on Representative Government.

American Governance | Teach with this packet featuring essays on the philosophical origins, structure, and legacy of the Constitution.

First Amendment Explorer | From Jack Miller Center

Great Thinkers | Browse this database of philosophers and authors from throughout history.

Originalism | Listen to this Georgetown Law-produced podcast on principles of constitutional originalism and current topics in constitutional law.

Civics 101 | This podcast offers civics refreshers for general audiences.

60-Second Civics | This Center for Civics Education-produced podcast offers short listens on various civics topics.