The Signing of the Constitution

"The Signing of the Constitution"
Howard Chandler Christy
Courtesy Architect of the Capitol: Copyright © 1985 United States Capitol Historical Society

Now available online:

"Thomas Jefferson & James Madison's
Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Constitution"

The Guide is intended to assist teachers, students, parents, and citizens in understanding and appreciating the Constitution of the United States of America. It is designed as a handbook for studying the Constitution in the tradition of the founders, using the source documents and writings identified by them as the "best guides" to its principles and meaning. See:

Minutes of the Board of Governors of the University of Virginia, March 4, 1825

The Institute for American Liberty is a non-profit corporation established for educational and literary purposes. Its mission is to present to the public literature, facts and viewpoints related to American Liberty, its virtues, principles and history based primarily upon the Constitution of the United States of America, the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, Washington's Farewell Address, the writings of the "Founding Fathers," the writings of other U.S. Presidents, statesmen and patriots, and other historical writings and analyses. The Institute encourages the reading and study of the Founding Documents and their Sources in our public schools. See:

Teaching America's Founding Documents;
Teaching the Federalist Papers;
Why 'The Federalist' Belongs in the Classroom;
and California Education Code;

New Essay:
"All Men are Created Equal: America's Defining Creed"

The Founding Documents of the United States of America: The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence, The Federalist Papers and George Washington's Farewell Address:

  • The Constitution of the United States (and Bill of Rights)
    Adopted by the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787. It was ratified by three-fourths of the States on July 2, 1788. Ratification of the Bill of Rights was completed December 15, 1791. "The most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man." (Gladstone)

  • The Declaration of Independence
    Adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, its signers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Written by Thomas Jefferson, it stands as a timeless statement of human liberty, rights and equality.

  • The Federalist Papers (Library of Congress)
    A collection of eighty-five letters written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison & John Jay under the pseudonym of "Publius" to the citizens of the State of New York from October 17, 1787 to August 16, 1788, in argument for the adoption of the Constitution. "[T]he best commentary on the principles of government which ever was written."(Thomas Jefferson). "The most important work in political science ever written in the United States." (Clinton Rossiter)

  • George Washington's Farewell Address
    Published September 19, 1796. Prepared with the assistance of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, it contains all of the true maxims of American Liberty. Abraham Lincoln recommended that the people of the United States read Washington's "immortal Farewell Address" in celebration of the anniversary of the birth of the Father of our Country. (See: Executive Letter, February 19, 1862).

    Locke's "Second Treatise on Government" and Sidney's "Discourses Concerning Government" were recommended by Thomas Jefferson as containing the "general principles of liberty and the rights of man, in nature and society" and as "those generally approved" by the citizens of the United States (See Minutes of the Board of Visitors, University of Virginia, March 4, 1825).

  • Locke's "Second Treatise on Government"
    Titled an Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government. First published in 1690 in England.

  • Selections from Sidney's "Discourses Concerning Government"
    "The world has so long and so generally sounded the praises of [Sidney's] discourses on government, that it seems superfluous, and even presumptuous, for an individual to add his feeble breath to the gale. They are in truth a rich treasure of republican principles, supported by copious & cogent arguments, and adorned with the finest flowers of science. It is probably the best elementary book of the principles of government, as founded in natural right which has ever been published in any language." (Thomas Jefferson). First published in 1698 in England.

  • "Seven Principles of Liberty" by J. David Gowdy
    Written by the founder of the Institute for American Liberty and published in 1996. Based upon the principles of liberty espoused by the Founding Fathers.

  • Quotes on Liberty and Virtue
    "Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics." John Adams

  • Thomas Jefferson:"A Defense of His Character"
    Recent DNA evidence has been used to discredit Jefferson's moral character -- A brief history of the original accusations and editorial comments on the evidence and the light in which to judge.

  • For Educators
    The George Washington Center for Constitutional Studies was established to promote civic education in America based on natural law principles and to teach students, teachers, and citizens the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence, of the U.S. Constitution and the teachings and examples of the Founders of the Republic.

  • WJMI Blog
    The Washington, Jefferson & Madison Institute Blog on topics of Liberty, Virtue, Happiness, the Founding and the Constitution, etc.

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