The American Founding
“There is no good government but what is republican . . . because the very definition of a republic is an empire of laws, and not of men.”
—John Adams, Thoughts on Government
Over the past few years, interest in America's Founding has skyrocketed—especially among conservatives, who, despite internal divisions between libertarians, traditionalists, and neoconservatives, agree that if there is one thing worth "conserving" in America, it is constitutional limited government. For all intents and purposes, the American Founding remains the glue that holds together the American conservative movement.
So how have thoughtful conservatives approached the American Founding? Is there one defining Founding moment, or several? Are there just a few American "Founders," or many? Is America mainly a common set of constitutional "ideas," or instead several sovereign "places" each with distinct cultures, traditions, and peoples? Finally, who has leveled the most effective critiques of America's Founding, and how do conservative thinkers respond to these arguments?
This month's installment of the ISI Experience introduces you not only to the fundamental principles and major figures of the American Founding but also to competing constitutional narratives. With principles like federalism and separation of powers at the heart of such contemporary debates as health care and executive power, it is more important than ever to understand the foundations of America's experiment in constitutional limited government.
This month's videos and readings will better prepare you to defend the constitutional traditions that have made America the freest and most prosperous society in history.
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