Gerald R. Ford Leadership Forum

Our American Heritage

Federalists and Anti-Federalists

by Jeff Polet On September 17, 1787, the Constitutional Convention, after much discussion and deliberation, completed its work. This did not, however, bring an end to debate and controversy. To put itself into effect the Constitution was sent to the states for the process of ratifying the document. Obviously, state ratifying conventions would determine the …

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Phillis Wheatley: Our First African-American Poet

by Kirstin Anderson Birkhaug Editor’s Note: In honor of Black History Month we are publishing this introduction to the life and work of one of the most remarkable figures of the founding era: Phillis Wheatley.] No gravestone marks the place of Phillis Wheatley’s rest. Of course, this is not unusual. Phillis Wheatley was a Black …

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Cato V

by Jeff Polet Many matters were debated at the Constitutional Convention, but the central issue involved the problem of political representation, which carries within itself one of the fundamental problems of social life: namely, the principal/agent problem. Simply stated, when you commission someone to act on your behalf you run the risk that this person …

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Judith Sargent Murray and Equality of Virtue

by Kirstin Anderson BirkhaugUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison In 1790, two years before Mary Wollstonecraft published her Vindication of the Rights of Woman, an American woman with the pen name “Constantia” released her own treatise on the equality of the sexes. “Constantia,” or, rather, Judith Sargent Murray, set out to prove the profound injustice of sexual inequality …

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Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson Preamble Bill Diffusion

-Jeff Polet Jefferson’s belief that democracy requires a “well-informed” citizenry has been so oft-repeated that it is almost a cliché. We forget, sometimes, that an informed citizenry is primarily a hedge against tyranny, the emergence of which was one of Jefferson’s great fears. His “Preamble to a Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge” …

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