The Principles of America's Founding

Federalist Papers

Federalist Papers

Federalist Papers

The Newberry Library

In this 5-day sequence at the Newberry Library, high school teachers will pursue an exciting inquiry into the Founders' political philosophy. Lectures, discussions, and workshops will bring to life the fundamental arguments of the Founding, which continue to animate our political life.

Readings will include core AP Government texts such as the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers. We will also examine closely the thought of Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, and the musically celebrated Alexander Hamilton. Participation promises invaluable preparation for civics, American history, and government classes.

Esteemed college faculty from around the nation, led by the seminar organizer Svetozar Minkov of Roosevelt University, will guide Chicagoland teachers in analyzing and interpreting the crucial documents of the Founding era. Exploration of rare materials from the Newberry collection and a session held at the Art Institute of Chicago will round out the week.

The seminar is free for high school teachers selected to participate, who will receive:

  • 25 hours of professional development credit
  • breakfast and lunch each day, plus a group dinner on the Thursday evening
  • a bound volume of primary source readings, sent in advance of the seminar
  • a special gift for participants' personal libraries

To apply, use the online application form linked at the bottom of this page.


Each Day

Coffee and Continental Breakfast: 8:45 to 9:15 am
Coffee Break: 10:45 to 11 am
Lunch: 12:30 to 1:30 pm

Monday, July 16

9:15 to 9:30 am: Newberry Introduction and Paperwork

  • Karen Christianson, Director of Public Engagement, and Charlotte Ross, Manager, Professional Development Programs for Teachers

9:30 am to 3:30 pm. Hamilton, Madison, and Jay: The Federalist Papers

Tuesday, July 17

9:15 am to 3 pm. Jefferson's Notes on Virginia

3 to 4 pm: The National Constitution Center's Interactive Constitution

Wednesday, July 18

9:15 am to 3 pm: Benjamin Franklin and the Scottish Enlightenment

3 to 4 pm: Collection Presentation of Newberry Rare Books and Manuscripts

Thursday, July 19

9:15 am to 3 pm: Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass

3 to 4 pm: Collection Presentation of Newberry Rare Books and Manuscripts

4 to 5 pm: Reception

5 pm Group Dinner

Friday, July 20

9:15 to 12 noon: Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America

12 to 2 pm: Wrap-Up, Lunch, and Bus to Downtown

2 to 3:30 pm: Tour of the Art Institute of Chicago

Cosponsored with the Jack Miller Center, in partnership with the Roosevelt University Montesquieu Forum, with generous support from the Harvey L. Miller Founding Civics Initiative.

Related Programs held at the University of Chicago Graham School

The American Form of Government: Its Influences, Founding, and Evolution: A Summer Intensive Civics Program for High School Social Studies Teachers

The University of Chicago Graham School for Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies and the Newberry Library are offering three coordinated one-week intensive sessions. Teachers may attend any one-week session as a stand-alone course, or participate in two or all three sessions consecutively. The Newberry seminar is the second in the series.

For information about the Graham School sessions, contact Tim Murphy, timmurphy@uchicago.edu, Assistant Director of Liberal Arts at the University of Chicago Graham School.

July 9-13, What the Founders Read: The Philosophical Influences on the American Founding

In this 5-day sequence at the University of Chicago's Graham School, teachers will engage in guided close readings and detailed discussions of the major philosophical texts that shaped the political worldview of the founding generation. Texts will include Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Politics, John Locke's Two Treatises of Government, Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws, and Jean Jacques Rousseau's Social Contract. An immersive grappling with the big ideas that the founders wrestled with provides an essential foundation to understanding the government they created.

July 23-27, The Unwritten Constitution: The Evolution of the Congress and Presidency

In this 5-day sequence at the University of Chicago's Graham School, teachers will study the history and evolution of the American Government. The Founders set into place the basic structures of government, and subsequent generations of political leaders shaped its future forms. Week 3 will include a special session on pedagogy by a scholar from the National Archives. Topics to be covered include the crisis of the Civil War, the Progressive Era, the New Deal and Great Society, and the War Powers. Readings will include de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, Woodrow Wilson's Congressional Government, and Herbert Croly's The Promise of American Life, as well as documents by other presidents and congressional leaders.