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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.