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Book Review

The American Republic: Primary Sources

The American Republic is divided into nine sections, each illustrating major philosophical, cultural, and policy positions at issue during crucial eras of American development. Readers will find documentary evidence of the purposes behind European settlement, American response to English acts, the pervasive role of religion in early American public life, and perspectives in the debate over independence.

Subsequent chapters examine the roots of American constitutionalism, Federalist and Anti-Federalist arguments concerning the need to protect common law rights, and the debates over whether the states or the federal government held final authority in determining the course of public policy in America. Also included are the discussions regarding disagreements over internal improvements and other federal measures aimed at binding the nation, particularly in the area of commerce.

The final section focuses on the political, cultural, and legal issues leading to the Civil War. Arguments and attempted compromises regarding slavery, along with laws that helped shape slavery, are highlighted. The volume ends with the prelude to the Civil War, a natural stopping-off point for studies of early American history.

By bringing together key original documents and other writings that explain cultural, religious, and historical concerns, this volume gives students, teachers, and general readers an effective way to begin examining the diversity of issues and influences that characterize American history.

Some of the primary documents included in the book are: The Mayflower Compact, The Massachusetts Body of Liberties, “The Bloody Tenent, of Persecution, for Cause of Conscience” by Roger Williams, “Thanksgiving Proclamation ” and Letters to Religious Associations by George Washington, “Farewell Address” by George Washington, The Stamp Act, “The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved” by James Otis, The Act Repealing the Stamp Act, “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania,” Letters V and IX by John Dickinson, Virginia Bill of Rights, Common Sense by Thomas Paine, The Declaration of Independence, “Thoughts on Government” by John Adams, Articles of Confederation, “ Virginia Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom” by Thomas Jefferson, The Federalist, Papers 1, 9, 10, 39, 47 –51, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay; The Constitution of the United States of America, “Speech Introducing Proposed Constitutional Amendments” by James Madison, Debate over First Amendment Language, The First Ten Amendments to the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights, Laws Regulating Servants and Slaves, 1630 –1852, Marbury v. Madison, Second Fugitive Slave Law,

Speech on the Slavery Question by John C. Calhoun, “What Is Slavery?” and “Slavery Is Despotismby” Harriet Beecher Stowe,