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American Constitutional and Political Thought

In a post yesterday on my class on Trump and the Constitution, I mentioned an archive of hundreds of free, publicly accessible documents in the history of American constitutionalism that Howard Gillman, Mark Graber, and I have produced over the past few years as a companion to our casebooks. Those items are all edited and include introductory notes. A chronological and topical index of the materials available relating to government structures and powers is here, and an index of materials relating to rights and powers is here. In addition to including important U.S. Supreme Court cases, the collection reflects our interest in expanding the canon to include all of American history and also extrajudicial materials. Everything from James Otis on the writs of assistance to Frederick Douglass on the antislavery Constitution to Robert Jackson on executive privilege for investigative reports to the 2nd circuit on state regulation of teeth-whitening procedures. That collection is periodically updated (and some more items should go live in the next few days).

I have a created a similar archive of dozens of free, publicly accessible documents in the history of American political thought, which serves as a companion to my reader. Those items are also edited and include introductory notes. A topical and chronological index of the available materials can be found here. I periodically add new material to that archive as well, though the “to do” list is long. If Oxford University Press continues to support it, and time permits, I hope that too will grow to include hundreds of excerpted documents. Somewhat unusually for such a collection, it includes items in the history of American thought on political economy and foreign policy, as well as more traditional topics such as liberty and democracy, equality and status, and citizenship and community. Everything from John Cotton on religious intolerance to Elizabeth Cady Stanton on free speech to Benjamin Tucker on individualism to Samuel Gompers on immigration to William James on the moral equivalent of war.

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About The Author

Keith Whittington

Founded in 1968, Reason is the magazine of free minds and free markets. We produce hard-hitting independent journalism on civil liberties, politics, technology, culture, policy, and commerce. Reason exists outside of the left/right echo chamber. Our goal is to deliver fresh, unbiased information and insights to our readers, viewers, and listeners every day. Visit

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