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The Founders' Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution and What We Risk by Losing It Hardcover – February 13, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 144 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Larry P. Arnn is the president of Hillsdale College. He has been published widely on issues of public policy, history, and political theory, and is the author of Liberty and Learning and The Founders' Key. He lives in Hillsdale, MI.



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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson; 1st edition (February 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595554726
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595554727
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,846 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By William L. Brown VINE VOICE on March 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The President of Hillsdale College, Larry Arnn, has issued this short book (123 pages plus 93 pages of foundational readings) to explain the connection between the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution.

Recently, a number of authors have argued that the Declaration and Constitution are opposed to each other. The Declaration states that all are created equal, whereas the Constitution protects the institution of slavery. Dr. Arnn provides a detailed explanation of this seeming contradiction, noting that, among other indications, the following actions showed that the Founders were (at most) reluctant supporters of slavery:

1. George Washington did not abuse his slaves, and he took steps to ensure that they would be freed upon his death.
2. The Founders limited and eventually outlawed the importation of slaves from abroad.
3. They abolished slavery in a majority of the original states.
4. And, they forbade the expansion of slavery into areas where it had not been originally permitted.

The most critical part of this book is the author's discussion of what amounts to a fourth branch of the federal government: the Administrative State. The various Departments in Washington, DC, amount to an unelected, unaccountable government that has absolute power which, according to Lord Acton, "tends to corrupt absolutely." Dr. Arnn does not hold out any hope for a rapid dissolution of this growing bureaucratic arm of the State, but he does provide guidelines for bringing it under the control of the governed.
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Format: Hardcover
In The Founder's Key, Dr. Arnn discusses the interrelatedness of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. A great many people know the first words of the Declaration, but fail to read the middle paragraphs. This is where Jefferson and the other formulators of the Declaration set forth the reasons for the break with Great Britain. In these paragraphs they set out the concepts of separation of powers, representation and the limited scope of government that formed the basis of the Constitution. The men who authored the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were under no illusions that men are not angels. Men have passions and desires that keep them from always espousing the noblest course. Therefore, the government to be fair to everyone must have a set of restraints that keep the branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial from individually usurping the power that is allocated to all three.

This is a very readable book, one that everyone interested in the issues of government should read. Dr. Arnn does an excellent job of presenting material from source documents: the Declaration, Constitution, and Federalist Papers. He also includes these source documents in the book. You don't have to take his word for what is being said. You can read it for yourself.

He makes a particularly good case for the problems with the encroaching bureaucracy we find ourselves enmeshed in today. The bureaucracy has no system of checks and balances. They make the rules, administer them and judge them. This is a prescription for abuse of power, particularly since the people who work in the bureaucracy are not angels. They are people with their own set of premises and desires that have not received the consent of governed.

I highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Arnn is the President of Hillsdale College. That alone generated enough interest for me to read this book. In order to understand the current debate regarding our Constitution, the author explores the connections between it, and the Declaration of Independence. He points out substantial evidence for the faith of the men involved in writing these documents. Furthermore, he gives specific examples of documents they wrote that shed light on how they did not operate in an isolated vacuum from each other.

Today's efforts to redefine the Constitution cause people (and even scholars) to suggest that the Declaration of Independence has nothing to do in the debate, because they are separate documents. Arnn argues that many of the men involved in crafting the Constitution had lived through the Revolution, and knew full well that the outcome of their "experiment" depends on having a government that serves the people.

The book is a little over 200 pages of hard hitting factual analysis, with a substantial part of the volume given to reprinting foundational readings, including The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States of America, Federalist No. 10, Federalist No. 39, Federalist No. 48, Federalist No. 49, Federalist No. 51, and "Property" by James Madison.

Arnn relies heavily on Virginians Jefferson and Madison for his points, but reinforces them with evidence from others, such as Washington and John Adams.

For an interesting look at the linkage between our country's foundational documents, check out this book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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