In my new book, “The Constitution of the United States and Other Patriotic Documents,” readers can rediscover what made America a luminous beacon of hope for liberty, prosperity, and justice throughout the world.
Since before its founding, our country has been blessed with extraordinary leaders who steeled our resolve for independence. They invented a new form of government by the people and for the people. Each brought different skills and talents to the cause of freedom. Those who followed guided us ably through more than two centuries of often treacherous challenges and grave threats. It is a story best told through the lens of historic documents that have been honored and preserved for our national heritage.
In this unique collector’s edition, the writings, speeches, and letters of our founders and their successors are carefully selected and explained. The important promises and navigating principles that shaped our great nation can be read in full. Over time, others helped transform public sentiment to advance equality and opportunity, empowering generations that followed. Their eloquent beliefs and convictions are also included.
The American experiment had its genesis in the power of words and ideas. We owe our unparalleled success to the exemplary statesmen —and women— who expressed them. Bold and transcendent figures defined what it is to be an American and to control our own destinies. Their dynamic opinions, steadfast faith, and inspiring arguments are revisited in this volume as a salute to our nation’s enduring triumph.
The durability of our constitutional republic and the rights we enjoy today also serve as a shinning testimonial to the moral courage and intellectual brilliance of our forebearers. We are their grateful beneficiaries. Absorbing their wisdom enriches our appreciation for the lives we enjoy and our love of country.
Among the essential patriotic documents contained in the book, we revisit seminal moments in the American journey. For example…
*As Patrick Henry stirred the nation with his passionate vow, “Give me liberty or give me death,” it was the inexorable logic and “common sense” of Thomas Paine that galvanized Americans to declare their independence when he wrote, “Resolution is our inherent character, and courage hath never forsaken us.”
*John Adams cautioned that only the ballot box in a representative democracy would prevent men in power from becoming “ravenous beasts of prey.” He argued that “The happiness of society is the end (goal) of government.”
*While Ben Franklin expressed sober misgivings about the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison penned a brilliant set of essays known as The Federalist Papers that led to its adoption. Madison acknowledged the flaws of our system when he wrote, “That which is the least imperfect is therefore the best government.”
*As he left office, a prescient George Washington warned that divisive political parties would become “potent engines of unprincipled men” who would “undermine freedom and enfeeble good governance.” He vigorously counseled against them, to no avail.
*Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave, abolitionist icon, and confidant of Lincoln delivered a powerful lament on the hypocrisy of American slavery by arguing that “We, the people” does not mean “We, the white people.” In plain language he deplored the cruelty and depravation that rendered “four million of our fellow countrymen in chains…and sold on the auction-block with horses, sheep, and swine.”
*In one of the greatest acts of moral courage Abraham Lincoln proclaimed “that all persons held as slaves shall be forever free.” At Gettysburg he reminded Americans that “all men are created equal.” In his Second Inaugural he sought to salve the wounds of war by uttering the words, “With malice toward none, with charity for all.”
*As the suffrage movement gained momentum, Elizabeth Cady Stanton condemned the tyranny of sexism, leaving “women to feel aggrieved, oppressed, and deprived of their most sacred rights.” Victoria C. Woodhull correctly argued that “the Constitution makes no distinction of sex” and “women are the equals of men.” In a much acclaimed speech,Susan B. Anthony, who was indicted for casting a ballot, posed the vexing question, “Is it a crime for a citizen of the United States to vote?”
*At the dawn of the 20th century, Theodore Roosevelt shattered the Gilded Age of ruthless monopolists and robber barons with his promise of a “square deal for every man, big or small, rich or poor.” Drawing from the principles of Lincoln, Roosevelt moved aggressively and successfully against corporate corruption and what he called “the sinister influence or control of special interests” in government.
*His relative, Franklin Roosevelt, saw the nation through immense suffering in the Great Depression by reassuring Americans, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” His innovative fireside chats buoyed the spirits of a nation in despair. When the U.S. was attacked by Japan on December 7, 1941, Roosevelt delivered his famous “a date which will live in infamy” address before Congress. He vowed that “The American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.”
*As Germany initiated World War II in Europe, the renowned theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, sent a secret letter to Roosevelt warning him that the Nazis were attempting to develop a new and frighteningly powerful weapon —an atomic bomb. Einstein’s alarming missive triggered the covert operation by the U.S. to build its own weapon in the highly classified Manhattan Project.
*When Harry S. Truman ordered two atomic bombs dropped on Japan he revealed to the nation that “The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East.”
*In the face of Soviet aggression, Dwight D. Eisenhower sought peace through strength by urging a halt to nuclear proliferation as he warned, “Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
*Ronald Reagan became the unabashed voice of conservatism and opened his presidency with a masterful address declaring, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” He precipitated the end of the Cold War when he challenged the Soviets to remove the physical barrier in Berlin. “Mr. Gorbechev, tear down this wall,” Reagan demanded. Two years later, the wall came tumbling down. And so did the communist empire.
The common denominator among all these exceptional men and women was their abiding faith in our country’s greatness fortified by a devotion to patriotism. In their memorable words, Americans found both solace and inspiration. We still can.
The virtues, aspirations, and ideals they so elegantly expressed are rediscovered in my new book, “The Constitution of the United States and Other Patriotic Documents.” It is a living testimonial for American patriots who are immensely proud of our foundational desire for a unified nation dedicated to freedom, prosperity, and justice for all. We continue to seek ways to improve the human experience and strive for “a more perfect union.”
In an era when too many have forgotten our country’s remarkable past, the noble ideas and uplifting words of these exceptional leaders are needed now more than ever to rekindle the indomitable American spirit.