Resources on the U.S. Constitution in the Online Library of Liberty
[September 8, 2013.]
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It contains the following
I. General Resources on the American Revolution
and the U.S. Constitution
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Summary of resources in the Online Library of Liberty
II. The Founding Fathers of the Constitution
and the Republic
The Collected Works of Key Founding Fathers
- George Washington (1732-1799): The Writings of George Washington, collected
and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s
Sons, 1889-1893). 14 vols. <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/2348>.
- John Adams (1735-1826): The Works of John Adams, Second President of
the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his
Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10
- Thomas Paine (1737-1809): The Writings of Thomas Paine, Collected and Edited
by Moncure Daniel Conway (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1894). 4 Vols. <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/1743>.
- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826): The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal
Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). 12 vols. <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/1734>.
- John Jay (1745-1829): The Correspondence and Public Papers of John
ed. Henry P. Johnston, A.M. (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890-93). 4 Vols. <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/2327>.
- James Madison (1751-1836): The Writings of James Madison, comprising
his Public Papers and his Private Correspondence, including his numerous
letters and documents now for the first time printed, ed. Gaillard Hunt (New York:
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1900). 9 vols. <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/1933>.
- Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804): The Works of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Henry
Cabot Lodge (Federal Edition) (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). In 12
Liberty Fund Books by Founding Fathers
- The Federalist (The Gideon Edition), Edited with an Introduction, Reader’s
Guide, Constitutional Cross-reference, Index, and Glossary by George W. Carey
and James McClellan (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/788>.
- James Wilson, Collected Works of James Wilson, edited by Kermit L. Hall
and Mark David Hall, with an Introduction by Kermit L. Hall, and a Bibliographical
Essay by Mark David Hall, collected by Maynard Garrison (Indianapolis: Liberty
Fund, 2007). 2 vols. <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/207>.
- John Dickinson and Richard Henry Lee, Empire and Nation: Letters from
a Farmer in Pennsylvania (John Dickinson). Letters from the Federal Farmer
(Richard Henry Lee), ed. Forrest McDonald (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1999). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/690>.
- George Washington, George Washington: A Collection, compiled and edited
by W.B. Allen (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1988). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/848>.
- Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, The Pacificus-Helvidius Debates
of 1793-1794: Toward the Completion of the American Founding, edited
with and Introduction by Morton J. Frisch (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund,
- John Adams, The Revolutionary Writings of John Adams, Selected and with
a Foreword by C. Bradley Thompson (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/592>.
- Alexander Hamilton, The Revolutionary Writings of Alexander Hamilton, edited
and with an Introduction by Richard B. Vernier, with a Foreword by Joyce
O. Appleby (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/2121>.
- Daniel Webster and Robert Hayne, The Webster-Hayne Debate on the Nature
of the Constitution: Selected Documents, ed. Herman Belz (Indianapolis:
Liberty Fund, 2000). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/1557>.
III. Documents and Debates about the Constitution
Collections of Documents
- The Founders' Constitution, edited by Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner
(Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001), 5 vols. The Web Edition is a joint venture
of the University of Chicago Press and the Liberty Fund. <http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/>.
Documents of Liberty [on the OLL at The Forum : Resources : Key Documents]
- Jonathan Elliot, The debates in the several state conventions on the
adoption of the federal Constitution, as recommended by the general convention
at Philadelphia, in 1787. Together with the Journal of the federal convention,
Luther Martin’s letter, Yates’s minutes, Congressional opinions, Virginia
and Kentucky resolutions of ‘98-‘99, and other illustrations of the Constitution
… 2d ed., with considerable additions. Collected and rev. from contemporary
publications, by Jonathan Elliot. Pub. under the sanction of Congress. (1836),
5 vols. <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/1904>.
- Paul Leicester Ford, Pamphlets on the Constitution of the United States,
published during its Discussion by the People, 1787-1788, edited with notes
and a bibliography by Paul Leicester Ford (Brooklyn, N.Y., 1888). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/1670>.
- The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, ed. Max Farrand (New Haven:
Yale University Press, 1911). 3 vols. <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/1785>.
Collections of Documents:
- American Political Writing During the Founding Era: 1760-1805, ed. Charles
S. Hyneman and Donald Lutz (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1983). 2 vols. <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/2067>.
- The American Republic: Primary Sources, ed. Bruce Frohnen (Indianapolis:
Liberty Fund, 2002). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/669>.
- Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History, ed.
Donald S. Lutz (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1998). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/694>.
- Friends of the Constitution: Writings of the “Other” Federalists, 1787-1788,
edited by Colleen A. Sheehan and Gary L. McDowell (Indianapolis: Liberty
Fund, 1998). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/2069>.
- Liberty and Order: The First American Party Struggle, ed. and with a Preface
by Lance Banning (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2004). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/875>.
- Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730-1805, 2 vols, Foreword
by Ellis Sandoz (2nd ed. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1998). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/1878>.
Other Primary Sources:
- David Ramsay, The History of the American Revolution, Foreword by Lester
H. Cohen (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1990). 2 vols. <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/1870>.
- Daniel Leonard, Massachusettensis: or a Series of Letters, containing
a faithful State of many important and striking facts, which laid the Foundation
of the Present Troubles in the Province of Massachusetts-Bay (Boston: J.
Matthews, 1776). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/1332>.
- William Findley, Observations on “The Two Sons of Oil”, Containing
a Vindication of the American Constitutions, and Defending the Blessings
of Religious Liberty and Toleration, against the Illiberal Strictures of
the Rev. Samuel B. Wylie,
edited and with an introduction by John Caldwell (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund,
About the Revolution and the Constitution:
- Trevor Colbourn, The Lamp of Experience: Whig History and the Intellectual
Origins of the American Revolution (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1998). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/674>.
- M.J.C. Vile, Constitutionalism and the Separation of Powers (2nd ed.) (Indianapolis,
Liberty Fund 1998). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/677>.
- Liberty and American Experience in the Eighteenth Century, edited and with
an Introduction by David Womersley (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/1727>.
- James McClellan, Liberty, Order, and Justice: An Introduction to the
Constitutional Principles of American Government (3rd ed.) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund,
- John Marshall, The Life of George Washington. Special Edition for Schools,
ed. Robert Faulkner and Paul Carrese (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/849>.
- Friedrich von Gentz, The Origins and Principles of the American Revolution,
compared with the Origin and Principles of the French Revolution, translated
by John Quincy Adams, edited and with an introduction by Peter Koslowski
(Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2009). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/2376>.
Reading Lists [The Forum : Reading Lists]
Images of Liberty [The Forum : Images of Liberty]
[Analysis of Gilbert Stuart, George Washington (1796) (“the Lansdowne Portrait”)]
Source: Study Guides on Images of Liberty and Power: Washington and Napoleon
in their Studies (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2010). <http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/2351>.
IV. Quotations about the American Revolution, the U.S.
Constitution, and by the Founding Fathers
[James Madison (1751-1836)]
"But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department, the necessary constitutional means, and personal motives, to resist encroachments of the others.... But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions." [Federalist
The following quotations about the American Revolution, the U.S. Constitution,
and by the Founding Fathers have appeared as part of the OLL’s weekly “Quotations
about Liberty and Power” [sorted by theme or
chronologically by date
- 1.The IVth Amendment to the American Constitution states
that the people shall be secure in their persons against unreasonable searches
and seizures and that no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause (1788) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/134>.
- 2.The State of New York declares that the people may “reassume”
their delegated powers at any time they choose (1788) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/293>.
- 3.John Adams thought he could see arbitrary power emerging
in the American colonies and urged his countrymen to “nip it in the bud”
before they lost all their liberties (1774) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/213>
- 4.John Adams on how absolute power intoxicates those who
excercise that power (1814) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/346>.
- 5.John Adams predicts a glorious future for America under
the new constitution and is in “reverence and awe” at its future prospects
- 6.John Adams argues that the British Empire is not a “true”
empire but a form of a “republic” where the rule of law operates (1763) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/127>.
- 7.Adams and Jefferson reflect on the Revolution and the
future of liberty (1823) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/443>.
- 8.Lance Banning argues that within a decade of the creation
of the US Constitution the nation was engaged in a bitter battle over the
soul of the American Republic (2004) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/86>.
- 9.James Bryce believed that the Founders intended that
the American President would be “a reduced and improved copy of the English
king” (1885) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/28>.
- 10.William Emerson, in his oration to commemorate the
Declaration of Independence, reminded his listeners of the “unconquerable
sense of liberty” which Americans had (1802) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/45>.
- 11.William Findlay wants to maintain the separation of
church and state and therefore sees no role for the “ecclesiastical branch”
in government (1812) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/157>.
- 12.Benjamin Franklin on the “superstructure” of Good Government
- 13.Alexander Hamilton denounces the British for imposing
“oppressive taxes” on the colonists which amount to tyranny, a form of slavery,
and vassalage to the Empire (1774) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/172>.
- 14.Alexander Hamilton warns of the danger to civil society
and liberty from a standing army since “the military state becomes elevated
above the civil” (1787) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/192>.
- 15.Simeon Howard on liberty as the opposition to “external
force and constraint” (1773) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/393>.
- 16.John Jay on the pretended as well as the just causes
of war (1787) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/288>.
- 17.John Jay in the Federalist Papers discussed why nations
go to war and concluded that it was not for justice but “whenever they have
a prospect of getting any thing by it” (1787) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/82>.
- 18.Less well known is Thomas Jefferson’s First Draft of
the Declaration of Independence in which he denounced the slave trade as
an “execrable Commerce” and slavery itself as a “cruel war against nature
itself” (1776) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/59>.
- 19.Jefferson’s preference for “newspapers without government”
over “government without newspapers” (1787) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/302>.
- 20.Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Taylor condemns
the system of banking as “a blot” on the constitution, as corrupt, and that
long-term government debt was “swindling” future generations (1816) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/187>.
- 21.Jefferson on the right to change one’s government (1776) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/327>.
- 22.Jefferson’s list of objections to the British Empire
in his first draft of the Declaration of Independence (1776) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/284>.
- 23.Jefferson on how Congress misuses the inter-state commerce
and general welfare clauses to promote the centralization of power (1825) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/268>.
- 24.Jefferson feared that it would only be a matter of
time before the American system of government degenerated into a form of
“elective despotism” (1785) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/237>.
- 25.Thomas Jefferson opposed vehemently the Alien and Sedition
Laws of 1798 which granted the President enormous powers showing that the
government had become a tyranny which desired to govern with "a rod of iron" (1798) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/80>.
- 26.Jefferson on Taxes and the General Welfare (1791) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/382>.
- 27.Jefferson tells Congress that since tax revenues are
increasing faster than population then taxes on all manner of items can be
“dispensed with” (i.e. abolished) (1801) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/170>.
- 28.Thomas Jefferson boasts about having reduced the size
of government and eliminated a number of “vexatious” taxes (1805) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/38>.
- 29.Thomas Jefferson on the Draft as "the last of all oppressions" (1777) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/120>.
- 30.Bernhard Knollenberg on the Belief of many colonial
Americans that Liberty was lost because the Leaders of the People had failed
in their Duty (2003) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/257>.
- 31.James Madison on the dangers of elections resulting
in overbearing majorities who respect neither justice nor individual rights,
Federalist 10 (1788) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/186>.
- 32.Madison on “Parchment Barriers” and the defence of
liberty II (1788) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/404>.
- 33.James Madison on the “sagacious and monied few” who
are able to “harvest” the benefits of government regulations (1787) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/349>.
- 34.James Madison on the need for the “separation of powers”
because “men are not angels,” Federalist 51 (1788) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/180>.
- 35.Madison on “Parchment Barriers” and the defence of
liberty I (1788) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/403>.
- 36.James Madison on the mischievous effects of mutable
government in The Federalist no. 62 (1788) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/177>.
- 37.James Madison on the necessity of separating the power
of “the sword from the purse” (1793) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/396>.
- 38.Madison argued that war is the major way by which the
executive office increases its power, patronage, and taxing power (1793) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/236>.
- 39.James Madison on the need for the people to declare
war and for each generation, not future generations, to bear the costs of
the wars they fight (1792) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/144>.
- 40.James Madison argues that the constitution places war-making
powers squarely with the legislative branch; for the president to have these
powers is the “the true nurse of executive aggrandizement” (1793) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/136>.
- 41.Robert Nisbet on the Shock the Founding Fathers would
feel if they could see the current size of the Military Establishment and
the National Government (1988) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/255>.
- 42.During the American Revolution Thomas Paine penned
a patriotic song called “Hail Great Republic” which is to be sung to the
tune of Rule Britannia (of course!) (1776) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/33>.
- 43.Thomas Paine responded to one of Burke’s critiques
of the French Revolution by cynically arguing that wars are sometimes started
in order to increase taxation (“the harvest of war”) (1791) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/123>.
- 44.Thomas Paine on the absurdity of an hereditary monarchy
- 45.Paine on the idea that the law is king (1776) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/308>.
- 46.Tom Paine on the "Decline and Fall of the English System of Finance" (1796) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/178>.
- 47.Tom Paine asks how it is that established governments
came into being, his answer, is "banditti of ruffians" seized control and turned themselves into monarchs (1792) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/112>.
- 48.Richard Price on the true Nature of Love of One’s Country
- 49.Spooner states the importance of the 9th Amendment
to the American Constitution which protects the natural rights of the people
not enumerated in the 1st 8 Amendments (1886) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/276>.
- 50.Tiedeman states that the police powers under the constitution
are strictly limited to enforcing the maxim: “use your own property in such
a manner as not to injure that of another” (1886) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/369>.
- 51.Mercy Otis Warren asks why people are so willing to
obey the government and answers that it is supineness, fear of resisting,
and the long habit of obedience (1805) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/197>.
- 52.George Washington warns that the knee jerk reaction
of citizens to problems is to seek a solution in the creation of a “new monarch”(1786) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/161>.
- 53.George Washington on the Difference between Commercial
and Political Relations with other Countries (1796) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/246>.
- 54.George Washington warns the nation in his Farewell
Address, that love of power will tend to create a real despotism in America
unless proper checks and balances are maintained to limit government power
- 55.James Wilson argues that it is the people, not the
prince, who is superior in matters of legal sovereignty (1790) <http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/440>.