Monthly Archives: September 2018

Documents in Detail: Madison’s Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787


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Today’s episode of Documents in Detail focused on excerpts from James Madison’s Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 – the Constitutional Convention. James Madison was the only delegate to attend every day of the convention, and to take notes of all the proceedings, to include summaries of speeches and vote tallies throughout the proceedings. The Debates, published after his death, provide scholars, students, and those interested in American constitutional government an insider’s view of the process by which the Constitution was considered, debated, and eventually signed, and then released to the states for ratification.

An authoritative, contemporary edition of the Debates, edited and prefaced by Professor Gordon Lloyd, is available electronically and in print from Amazon.

Access the full program archive here.

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Core American Documents: Reconstruction


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Reconstruction is one of these times in American History where you can learn the limits of what law can accomplish.”’s latest Core American Documents volume, on Reconstruction, is now available. Composed of 31 documents, study questions, an introduction to the topic by Professor Scott Yenor, a thematic table of contents, and a list of suggested additional readings, this volume will greatly expand your understanding of this watershed moment in American History. Yenor’s collection looks at the beginning, middle, and end of Reconstruction, going back to policies and plans implemented by the Lincoln administration during the early years of the war, and concluding with a speech by Frederick Douglass, the great abolitionist, as he looked back, decades later, on what had – and hadn’t – been accomplished.

The volume is available for free in PDF or iTunes eBook formats, or for $.99 on your Amazon Kindle, or $10 for paperback on Amazon.

Washington’s letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport: Full Reading


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…to bigotry no sanction…” 

After receiving congratulations from people and groups from across America upon becoming the first president, George Washington took the time to respond to many of them, personally. In this letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport, RI, Washington not only expresses his personal thanks for the group’s letter, but then goes on to present his thoughts on the centrality of freedom of conscience and religion in America, and why those liberties are so essential to a free people working within a republican-style government. This concise document presents a powerful defense of the American core value, that of the freedom of religion.

Saturday Webinar: Federalists vs. Antifederalists


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Why read Federalist writings, and perhaps of even more interest, why read Antifederalist writings?

The second of’s Great American Debates webinar series took place on Saturday, 8 September. Our episode focused on the Federalist-Antifederalist Debates that took place most obviously from late 1787 through 1788, when the Constitution was being considered for ratification throughout the 13 states. Our program took a serious look at the ideas of both sides, considering them as ideas expressed and debated at the time, and looking at how some of these issues have been alive as points of contention throughout American history. For more information about the “out of doors” debates over the Constitution, take a look at our Ratification of the Constitution exhibit.

See the full archive page here.

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Teaching America’s Founding

How do you make a country from scratch? Leaders during the American Founding, the  period from 1776 through 1789, would dedicate themselves to pursuing the answer until bringing their plan to fruition with Washington’s inauguration. Along the way, they would wrestle with defining, expressing, and applying what Jefferson would call “The American Mind” to their goals.

For today’s students, it’s hard to imagine America as a new idea, as a radical experiment in democracy. But for the people fighting a revolution, attempting to govern  a group of disparate states, and finally creating the Constitution, it was uncharted territory. By transporting students to that era with original documents, American history teachers can begin to help them understand the incomparable drama of this exhilarating time.

Transform Your Classroom Experience with the Teaching American History American Founding Toolkit

The Teaching American History American Founding Toolkit, centered on original documents, is designed to bring you and your classroom into lively conversation with the Founding Fathers.

You can use some or all of these Toolkit resources, tailoring them to your curriculum, schedule, and students’ needs. When you plan a lesson around a Core Document or corresponding resource, you will start to see your students making connections that bring the Colonial era to life.

Accessing the American Founding Toolkit is easy. Just click on the link below and find everything you need to bring the Colonial Era into your classroom today!

Access the American Founding Toolkit

SYNOPSIS: Add original documents, speeches, and dynamic lesson plans into your high school American history with this Founding era curriculum. is a project of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University

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