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The U.S. Constitution: A Reader Paperback – January 27, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 147 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Excerpts from The U.S. Constitution: A Reader:

"It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a People always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence."
-George Washington

"The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power."
-Alexander Hamilton

"The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them."
-Thomas Jefferson

"I insist, that if there is anything which it is the duty of the whole people to never entrust to any hands but their own, that thing is the preservation and perpetuity, of their own liberties, and institutions."
-Abraham Lincoln

"If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it."
-Calvin Coolidge

"You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We can preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth."
-Ronald Reagan

--Look Inside for more!

What They're Saying:

In The U.S. Constitution: A Reader, the Hillsdale College Politics Faculty have managed to assemble in a single volume the 'greatest hits' of our constitutional heritage. And they have done so in the form of a compelling story about the history of our constitutional enterprise. Our nation's public life would be immensely enriched if every concerned citizen, pundit, and public servant became better acquainted with the rich and fascinating story told herein." --Mike Lee, United States Senator, Utah

"If every federal, state, and local public official took the time to study these documents, the future of freedom in this country would be more secure. Hillsdale has performed an invaluable service to America by making them conveniently available to all."
--Paul Ryan, United States Congressman, First District of Wisconsin

"It would be of great benefit to the country if these documents were required reading for all college and university students."
--Edward Erler, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science at California State University, San Bernardino

About the Author

Hillsdale College was founded in 1844 by men and women who proclaimed themselves "grateful to God for the inestimable blessings resulting from the prevalence of civil and religious liberty and intelligent piety in the land," and who believed that "the diffusion of sound learning is essential to the perpetuity of these blessings."

With that same mission guiding it today, Hillsdale College has built a national reputation through its maintenance of a classical core curriculum and its principled refusal to accept any federal or state taxpayer subsidies. It also conducts a large outreach effort that promotes civil and religious liberty, including a monthly speech digest, Imprimis, with a current circulation of over two million.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 790 pages
  • Publisher: Hillsdale College Press; 1 edition (January 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0916308367
  • ISBN-13: 978-0916308360
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kenneth Bauer on January 31, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're interested in understanding the Constitution at a new level, this book will set you well along your way. It's a collection of dozens of writings by the Founding Fathers, classical thinkers like Aristotle, Lincoln, Paine, Jefferson, and more common day leaders like JFK, LBJ, and Reagan. It looks at the various opinions and thoughts on Constitutional government, and the assault on it from the Progressives like Woodrow Wilson and FDR. And it does it all by providing you the original source documents. Don't take my word for it, or even political commentators! It's all in the book...you can read FDR's Address to Congress in 1944 and see it for yourself. Want to understand today's Liberal establishment? Take the time to understand their founding principles by reading Wilson's musings or FDR's speeches...it's all in this book. Speeches by Lincoln, FDR, Wilson, Coolidge, Reagan. The Federalist Papers and historical documents written on slavery. Even debate transcripts between Lincoln and Douglas. Read the Progressives' own words on how you should "trust government and give it more and more power". You can read FDR's "Second Bill of Rights" that he offered in his Address to Congress in 1944...it sounds eerily similar to the demands shouted out (in a far less eloquent manner) by today's Occupy Wall Street protesters.

What's cool is this book doesn't really insert its own opinions other than an introductory letter (about 1.5 pages) before each major section (there are 11 sections), and a quick sentence or two summing up individual writings/speeches/etc. It just provides you with the original source documents and you can come to your own conclusions. There are over 780 pages of incredible information in this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This 790 page textbook of primary source documents (except for brief paragraph length intros) is a necessary resource for those of us who are political conservatives. This is the textbook used by Hillsdale College in their course on the U.S. Constitution which is required for all students. I have been waiting for this new edition since I found out about it last Constitution Day in September, 2011. I am currently taking an online course by Hillsdale College on the U.S. Constitution and this is the text I am using. I am amazed at the level of education that our Founding Generation had and I have only read about 15 chapters of this book. It seems they had a better understanding of our current political environment that the politicians of today.

This is by no means an easy read. I heartily recommend you get this book but be ready to take your time with it. I am reading some of the things that influenced our Founding Fathers and Mothers and, to put it mildly, these ideas are deep. Last week I had to read an essay by Aristotle entitled "Nicomachean Ethics". This is supposed to address the question, "What is the best life for man?" If it did I missed it. I will have to re-read it until I can see what Aristotle was talking about. This is not meant to discourage anyone. I simply want to be honest that this is not a light read and it will require taking some time in reading, re-reading and reflecting on what is written. I am not giving up; I am it this for the longer haul that will give me some treasure, and if that means having to dig some then so much the better.

Before I graduated high school I had to take 2 years of U.S. history and civics. I never read the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution in those classes. How can you teach U.S.
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6 Comments 51 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Understanding American means understanding its Founding. It means studying the Constitution, which is the culmination of the Founding. It also means understanding the historic and modern-day attacks on the Founding: secessionism and progressivism. This Reader is a great tool in reaching that understanding. It explains the purpose of America in the words of the men and women who made this country. It also focuses on the philosophies of those who have a different vision of this nation's past, present, and future. Most of the contents are primary sources written by the most important and influential figures in this American history. It also contains essays that help to explain the meaning, context, and significance of the primary sources. If you want to understand the Constitution and the American Founding, then this book is for you.
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I am a conservative political philosophy graduate student from Claremont, and as much as I like and approve of everything in this reader, I think there are some problematic gaps that should be filled in any subsequent editions that Hillsdale makes of this book.

My two main complaints: (1) in the "Natural Rights and the American Founding" sections this book contains very little written by the Antifederalists. (2) there was no inclusion of any documents from the Populist movement or Social Darwinist movements, two movements which were precursors to Progressivism in that they advocated for a more direct democracy instead of our Constitutional system of representation and checks and balances.

These are major problems because the Antifederalists give context for the Bill of Rights; many of their demands made it into the Amendments. The reader includes just one essay by Brutus and one letter by Hamilton "the Farmer Refuted," but the letter by the antifederalist farmer is not included!

The Populists were very much a home-grown American movement and differ from the Progressives in that their political theory doesn't come from a foreign source. For instance, their party platform quotes the Declaration, and they argue for expanded government power on the precedent set by the Postal service. It is important to remember the Populists because it goes to show that there have been criticisms of the Constitution from both within and without the US, which the editors do not stress very much.

Still, this is a good reader because the Progressives did much more damage than the Populists to our Constitutional Structure. But I think both the Populists and the Antifederalists need to be talked about to get a full historical perspective on who the "enemies of the Constitution" really were. I guess it just makes the story too complex to consider ciritics of the Constitution who didn't study Hegel over in German universities, but were themselves very American
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