Browse our archive of original historical documents on the themes of this book:

- Founding Principles

- Slavery

- Property Rights

- Women and the Right to Vote

- Women and the Family

- Was the Founding Undemocratic? The Property Requirement for Voting

- Poverty and Welfare

- Immigration and the Moral Conditions of Citizenship

- Afterword: Liberals and Conservatives Abandon the Principles of the Founding


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Chapter 1. Slavery

Todayís View of the Founders on Slavery
Morison, Wood, O’Brien, Abernathy
Four recent denunciations of the Founders on the subject of slavery.

Reflections on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution
Thurgood Marshall
The first black justice of the Supreme Court denounces the Founders for failing to abolish slavery.

Five Founders on Slavery
Washington, Adams, Franklin, Hamilton, Madison

Thomas Jeffersonís Draft of the Declaration of Independence
Condemnation of the slave trade deleted because of objections from South Carolina and Georgia.

Alexander Hamilton to John Jay
March 14, 1779
Arguing that blacks have the same natural abilities as whites, and promoting a scheme to recruit slaves as soldiers and "give them their freedom with their muskets."

Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14
Thomas Jefferson
A proposal for emancipation of slaves in Virginia; but Jefferson opposes integration of the freed slaves into American society.

Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 18
Thomas Jefferson
Slavery corrupts whites while oppressing blacks; a call for emancipation.

Federalist No. 54
James Madison
February 12, 1788
Slavery is unnatural because it treats rational beings as if they were irrational beasts.

John Jay to the President of the English Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves
June 1788
The inconsistency between slavery and the founding principles, and Jayís hope for ultimate emancipation.

Memorandum on an African Colony for Freed Slaves
James Madison
about October 20, 1789

Thomas Jefferson to Henri Gregoire
February 25, 1809
Whether or not blacks are inferior to whites, they have the natural right to liberty.

Thomas Jefferson to John Holmes
April 22, 1820
Slavery is wrong, but "we have the wolf by the ears"; emancipation would threaten the lives of the whites.

Speech in the Senate on the Oregon Bill
John C. Calhoun
June 27, 1848
Calhoun, the leading spokesman for the pre-Civil War South, denounces the principles of the American founding. He argues that human beings are not created equal.

Dred Scott v. Sanford
The Supreme Court argues that the Declaration of Independence did not include blacks when it said "all men are created equal."

Speech on the Dred Scott Decision
Abraham Lincoln
June 26, 1857
Lincoln refutes the Supreme Courtís claim that the Declaration of Independence does not include blacks.

Lincoln-Douglas Debates

Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina From the Federal Union
December 24, 1860
Demonstrating that secession was all about slavery.

First Inaugural Address
Abraham Lincoln
March 4, 1861
Lincoln states that secession took place because of a quarrel over whether slavery ought to be expanded. He argues that secession is an attempt to overturn a democratic election, and that there can be no exercise of the right to revolution when no substantial constitutional rights of Southern states are threatened.

Cornerstone Speech
Alexander Stephens
Vice-President, the Confederate States of America
March 21, 1861
This speech was delivered in Savannah by Stephens, the newly elected Vice-President of the Confederacy. It was reprinted all over the South and was wildly popular. It demonstrates that the principal cause of the Civil War was whether slavery was to be understood as a positive good.

Second Inaugural Address
Abraham Lincoln
March 4, 1865
At the end of the Civil War, Lincoln suggests that the war may be a divine punishment for the national sin of slavery.

American Scripture
Pauline Maier

The Civil War Wasnít About Slavery
Walter Williams
December 2, 1998


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