Listed first below are resources on the history of our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Below that are references that address the history of the American Revolution and challenges today on how our founding documents are understood. The resources are in descending order by publish date.
A pocket Constitution and Declaration of Independence with index is available from the Government Printing Office for $1.50. Many Congressmen and Congresswomen carry a small version, easy to reference, in their pockets. It is not uncommon to see them holding it up when being interviewed on TV.
The Declaration of Independence
The Heart of the Declaration: The Founders’ Case for An Activist Government, Steve Pincus, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2016.
Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, Danielle Allen, W.W. Norton, New York, 2014. A clearly written, incisive explanation of our national values, and what they mean for citizens and our culture. Historian Gordon Woods - “A tour de force…No one has ever written a book on the Declaration quite like this one.
Our Lives, Our Fortunes & Our Sacred Honor: The Forging of American Independence, 1774 - 1776, Richard R. Beeman, Basic Books, New York, 2013. “Richard Beeman has written a powerful and vivid account of the making of what is arguably our most cited and least understood founding document: the Declaration of Independence. This is a valuable and important book.” - Jon Meacham.
American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, Pauline Maier, Vintage, New York, 1997.
Inventing America: Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, Gary Wills, Doubleday, Garden City, 1978.
A Casebook on The Declaration of Independence: Analysis of the structure, meaning and literary worth of the text, Robert Ginsberg, editor, Thomas Y. Crowell, New York, 1967. A collection of essays from 1776 - 1966, and appendices of historical documents.
The Declaration of Independence: A Study in the History of Political Ideas, Carl L. Becker, Random House, New York, 1922, 1942.
The Framers’ Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution, Michael J. Klarman, Oxford University Press, New York, 2016.
The Citizen’s Constitution: An Annotated Guide, Seth Lipsky, Basic Books, New York, 2009.
Active Liberty: Interpreting Our Democratic Constitution, Stephen Breyer, Knopf, New York, 2005.
A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution, Carol Berkin, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 2002. “Takes a fresh look at the much-trampled ground of Philadelphia in 1787. Drops the, ‘It all come down to us written on a stone tablet’ pose and goes into all the confusion, paranoia and luck involved.” - Molly Ivins.
Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution, Jack N. Rakove, Vintage, New York, 1997. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
We Hold These Truths: Understanding the Ideas and Ideals of the Constitution, Mortimer J. Adler, MacMillan, New York, 1987. Forward by Harry A. Blackmun, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. “When Dr. Adler writes about the Constitution of the United States at this bicentennial time, it properly may be said that one has nothing less than a duty to read and to learn.” - Justice Blackmun.
The Federalist: A Commentary on The Constitution of the United States: Being a Collection of Essays written in Support of the Constitution agreed upon September 17, 1787 by the Federal Convention, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison, multiple publishers.
Resources on American history, and current challenges to our national purpose and values
Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century, American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
iCivics: Free Lesson Plans and Games for Learning Civics
Lincoln and the American Founding, Lucas E. Morel, Southern Illinois University Press, 2020.
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson, Random House, 2020.
The Will of the People: The Revolutionary Birth of America, T.H.Breen, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 2019
These Truths: A History of the United States, Jill Lepore, W.W. Norton, 2018.
The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, John Meacham, 2018.
The Crisis of the Middle Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic, Ganesh Sitaraman, Knopf, New York, 2017. “A pathbreaking effort to rethink the past, present, and future of American constitutional development.” - Bruce Ackerman, Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale.
Women in the Late-19th Century — Lecture by Heather Cox Richardson, April 12, 2016.
American Revolution: A History, Gordon S. Wood, The Modern Library, New York, 2002
A People’s History of the American Revolution: How Common People Shaped the Fight for Independence, Ray Raphael, The New Press, New York, 2001. “Ray Raphael shows that, like the Civil Rights Movement, the American Revolution was the product of local people, not just Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin. By focusing on the people, he provides new insights on the war, including when it started, how we won it, and what changes in society resulted from it.” - James Loewen.
On Democracy, Robert A. Dahl, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1998.
The Radicalism of the American Revolution, Gordon S. Wood, Vintage Books, New York, 1991. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
The Court and The Constitution, Archibald Cox, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1987. “A comprehensive account of the court’s shaping of the nation by its shaping of constitutional law.” - Los Angeles Times.
The American Revolution, Edward Countryman, Hill and Wang, New York, 1985.
How to Think About the American Revolution, Harry V. Jaffe, Carolina Academic Press, Durham, 1978.