At Northwestern University Law School’s Lincoln Lecture, endowed by my colleague Steve Calabresi, we had the great good fortune to hear a talk by Gordon Wood, the leading historian of
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Explore some of the key moments and events that have helped shape the course of US political and constitutional development.
At a Constitutional Convention in 1787, delegates devised a plan for a federal government with three branches—executive, legislative and judicial—along with a system of checks and balances to ensure no single branch would have too much power. The Bill of Rights added 10 amendments which specifically listed protections for things such as freedom of speech, religion, bearing arms and variety of other potential government over-reaches. In a most revolutionary way, this document formed a Republic which fundamentally limited government’s power and protected our natural rights.Read More
Skirmishes between British troops and colonial militiamen in April 1775 kicked off the conflict in Massachusetts. By the following summer, the rebels were waging a full-scale war for their independence across most of the Eastern seaboard. At a disadvantage in every strategic sense, George Washington and his Generals were forced to retreat a number of times, surviving just long enough to earn a few key victories and secure much needed French assistance.
After years of hard fought battles, starvation and even disease, Washington and the Continental Army forced the British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781. Americans had effectively won their independence, though fighting would not formally end until 1783.Read More
After years of Britain violating a variety of individual rights, representatives of the 13 colonies in America decided they’d had enough. They drafted a document to clarify reasons the American colonies were seceding from Britain and publicly announced the separation. With this Declaration, the founders committed treason and incited war with the world’s dominant super power.
Most importantly, the Declaration of Independence summarized a philosophical approach to life and government rooted in the defense of individual rights. It was an incredibly radical statement for any group to make, and it became the inspiration for the American War for Independence, Constitution and the United States that followed after years of battle.
Here is that world changing text.Read More
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