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Founding Fathers

  • Originally published 09/19/2017

    America Wasn’t Built for Humans

    Andrew Sullivan

    Tribalism was an urge our Founding Fathers assumed we could overcome. And so it has become our greatest vulnerability.

  • Originally published 06/30/2017

    On July Fourth, pursue happiness together, like founders wanted

    Jonathan Zimmerman

    On the Fourth of July, Americans will drink beer, eat hot dogs and celebrate 241 years of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That means you get to do whatever you want, provided that you don’t interfere with anyone else. Right? Wrong.

  • Originally published 04/17/2017

    Trump Vs. Madison. Madison’s Winning.

    Donald J. Fraser

    The parchment barriers Madison and the other Founding Fathers installed in the Constitution are helping check Trump’s overreaching.

  • Originally published 04/13/2017

    Divided We Fall

    Ganesh Sitaraman

    The Founders knew that economic inequality would destroy America's democracy. So why can't the Constitution save us?

  • Originally published 02/21/2017

    Fake News and the Founding Fathers

    John Avlon

    This administration’s attacks on the press are directed at anyone who dares to disagree or try to hold them accountable. Nothing could be further from the example George Washington set.

  • Originally published 09/08/2016

    The Virtue of an Educated Voter

    Alan Taylor

    The Founders believed that a well-informed electorate preserves our fragile democracy and benefits American society as a whole. We are dangerously far from their vision today. 

  • Originally published 03/25/2015

    What Is Deism?

    Thomas Kidd

    Most deists really did consider themselves serious theists, and many considered themselves devotees of Jesus and his teachings. Their deism was not just a convenient cloak for atheism.

  • Originally published 06/09/2014

    Political ignorance and the Founding Fathers

    Ilya Somin

    Madison ultimately concluded that increasing political knowledge was an important objective for making representative democracy work effectively.

  • Originally published 08/03/2013

    New evidence contributes to unprecedented portrait of enslaved life at James Madison's Montpelier

    ORANGE, VA.- The Montpelier Foundation today announced findings from new archaeological excavations at the lifelong home of James Madison – Father of the Constitution, Architect of the Bill of Rights, and Fourth President of the United States. Discovered by teams of professional archaeology staff, students and visitors participating in special “Archaeology Expeditions,” two newly revealed subfloor pits provide an initial footprint for field slave quarters on the Montpelier landscape.“Montpelier is unique among archaeological sites in the United States with regards to our ability to recreate and visualize the experience of enslaved life,” said Matthew Reeves, Ph.D., Director of Archaeology and Landscape Restoration at James Madison’s Montpelier. “Because the fields have lain fallow since Madison’s time, the sites we are discovering are virtually undisturbed. We are meticulously documenting available evidence from the sites so we can begin to reconstruct the farm in a way that will authentically represent the complexity of life on the plantation.”...

  • Originally published 07/05/2013

    Poll: Most think Founders wouldn't be pleased with America

    (CNN) – With signs of patriotism abounding for the Fourth of July, a new survey indicates seven in 10 Americans think the Founding Fathers would be disappointed by the way the United States has turned out, 237 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.But that doesn't mean Americans themselves are displeased. The same poll, released Thursday by Gallup, shows the number who say they're very or extremely proud to be American remains steady at 85%....Despite the high level of patriotism, 71% of Americans think the signers of the Declaration of Independence wouldn't be pleased with the nation today. That number has steadily risen since 2001, when the number stood at 42%....

  • Originally published 03/24/2013

    Channelling Ben Franklin

    Thomas Fleming

    “I’ve been told by my friend Washington that you want to talk to me.” “Dr. Franklin! I didn’t really think you’d respond. Mr. Washington told me you only express occasional interest in American affairs.”“I summed up my attitude at the Constitutional Convention. I told them we’d created a republic -- if they can keep it. That says it all -- or at least quite a lot of what I thought -- and still think.”“Without you, they might not have reached an agreement.”“True enough. I saw the antagonisms boiling between perfectionists and realists and for a while wondered if I should have stayed home. It was no place for an eighty-one-year-old man with bladder stones that made it uncomfortable to stand up.”

  • Originally published 03/10/2013

    Compromise as the Constitution’s Foundation

    David Brian Robertson

    U.S. Capitol rotunda. Credit: Matt Wade Photography.Practical politicians – like the very human politicians portrayed in the movie Lincoln – wrote the U.S. Constitution. Deep mistrust and bitter disagreements divided these politicians, as they did in the Civil War era and as they do now, in the fight over sequestration and the budget deficit. They negotiated their way through these differences; compromise produced the Constitution, as it later produced the Thirteenth Amendment and the other landmark measures of American government. Their own compromises left us a government that cannot work without compromise.

  • Originally published 01/09/2013

    Channelling George Washington: Junking the Constitution

    Thomas Fleming

    Credit: Wiki Commons/HNN staff."Mr. Madison, call your office!""I beg your pardon?"I’m only half kidding. As if we didn’t have enough trouble holding the country together, a law professor at university located in our national capital recently published an article in a major newspaper, entitled 'Let’s Give Up on the Constitution.'" "Why does he think we should do that?""He quotes Tom Jefferson, who believed every constitution should expire after a single generation. The professor doesn’t seem to realize he’s succumbing to Tom’s wackiest idea, 'The Earth Belongs to the Living.' Tom picked it up in France, along with his consuming love for French radicals who killed tens of thousands of innocent people to purify their revolution.""What else did 'The Earth Belongs to the Living' include?"

  • Originally published 07/09/2007

    Even the Founding Fathers Had to Worry About Gay-Baiting

    Thomas A. Foster

    If the Senate passes the Matthew Shepard Act -- known also as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act -- a long and ugly history of violence and hate based on sexual orientation may finally approach an end. The legislation was stalled for years in Congress, but with Democrats now in control it passed the House of Representatives and will be voted on by the Senate this summer.What few people realize is that the culture of terror that has long affected gays and lesbians also threatens heterosexuals. Though the hate-inspired murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998 garnered national attention, too many other offenses go largely unreported in mainstream media. Some would argue that to focus on barbaric killings obscures the run-of-the-mill abuse that gays and lesbians suffer. Such a climate of hate, backed by the ever-present threat of violence, keeps gays and lesbians from holding hands in public, embracing at an airport, or from being comfortable in workplaces where heterosexual family photos are ubiquitous. Such strictures also harm heterosexuals by enforcing narrow norms of how to act in public as men and women.