Constituting America Founder, Actress Janine Turner


Constituting America first published this message from Founder Janine Turner over Memorial Day Weekend, 2010, the inaugural year of our organization. We are pleased to share it with you again, as we celebrate our 13th birthday!  

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Signing of the Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull, displayed in the United States Capitol Rotunda.

Click Here to Hear Actress Janine Turner read the Declaration of Independence!

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

From the National Archives website:

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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Constituting America first published this message from Founder & Co-Chair Janine Turner over Memorial Day Weekend, 2010, the inaugural year of our organization.  We are pleased to share it with you again, as we celebrate our 6th birthday!  

On this Memorial Day weekend, I think it is appropriate to truly contemplate and think about the soldiers and families who have sacrificed their lives and loved ones, and given their time and dedication to our country.

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Please join us in reading the United States Constitution and Federalist Papers in 90 Days!

Beginning April 20, we will be launching a 90 day project to read the U.S. Constitution and 85 Federalist Papers in 90 Days, and we will be blogging about them at with you, and with Constitutional Experts! We want to know your thoughts on how the United States Constitution and Federalist Papers are relevant today!

Get your copy of the Federalist Papers, join us daily on, and get ready to read, learn and blog!

For more more details, read Janine Turner’s op-ed below:

90 in 90 = 180:
History Holds the Key to Our Future
By Janine Turner

I was driving my mother’s car the other day and I commented on how small her rearview mirrors were. My rear view mirrors are rather big because, as a Texan, I drive a large SUV I use to work my ranch. As I was looking out of her rearview mirrors, I pondered, as a Constitutionalist, my new self-definition, about whether Americans have something in common with rear view mirrors. Is the traditional American view – the basis of our country, our thesis, our founding principles, our United States Constitution – diminishing in our rearview mirrors? Are we, as a country, driving away from these founding principles?

In order to be a more perfect union in today’s environment we need to be more aware. Without awareness there can be no subsequent resulting action as citizens. Trying to evaluate legislation and governmental action without knowledge of the Constitution is rather similar to being in the passenger seat as the driver drives ahead in the dark – without headlights. An enlightened people were the hope and the engine of our new Republic in the 18th century. It is no different today.

Or maybe it is better represented as driving forward toward the results of a horrendous earthquake – an earthquake that has left a deep, uneven division. Thrust upon the divide are the clumps of dry parched land left to bake and parch in the sun – the American Republic, the America loved and cherished by many patriots of yesterday and today.

As we look into the future with an angst and a thirst for righteousness we realize we must look back in our rearview mirrors. The proper nourishment is available to cultivate the soil, to fertilize the great land of America and her people. In the rear view lays the vitamins and minerals. They are in the United States Constitution and its companion piece, The Federalist, or the Federalist Papers.

In these documents are all the answers – but solving the riddle requires reading it! We must join together in a unifying mission to become aware of what is in these great documents and to understand them. We should no longer let Washington, D.C., our representatives, the bureaucracy, or administrative officials do our thinking for us. Ignorance enables them to get away with all of the things we do not understand.

If we are to protest or approve, we must do so with a foundation of knowledge. We must educate ourselves and we must educate our children. It is like preparing for the great debate. We are either, as a nation, moving away from our Constitution, watching it minimalize in the rear view mirror, or we are turning around and driving toward it.

If we do not take action and Constitute America then we will watch as it is slowly, inch by inch, as has been done since the 20th century, diminish in view. Like a thief in the night our Constitutional ideals are being usurped from us, politically and culturally.

But if we do a 180 and turn around, shining the headlights of our car on the Constitution, then we may set off a momentum that will shift our country back to its founding principles. A government envisioned by our forefathers – a small government with checks and balances and accountability to its people.

“If we see it, we will come.” As a nation we must turn around and turn on the headlights.

The darkness will call out to us, “But wait, the Constitution isn’t relevant today!” Is the Constitution relevant today? Well, how about Federalist paper #62 dealing with the rules of the Senate, written by James Madison,

It will be of little avail to the people, that
the laws are made by men of their own choice,
if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read,
or so incoherent that they cannot be understood;
if they be repealed or revised before

they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes, that no man who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known or less fixed.
How about words in Federalist Paper #1 written by Alexander Hamilton,

An enlightened zeal for the energy and efficiency
of government, will be stigmatized as the offspring
of a temper fond of power, and hostile to the
principles of liberty.

Timely are the warnings in Federalist Paper #10 by Alexander Hamilton,

Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or
of sinister designs, may by intrigue, by corruption,
or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and
then betray the interests of the people.

Relevant today? Yes!

Like a candle lighted in the window, our founding fathers words in the Constitution and the Federalist Papers are illuminating the way. They call out from their arduously designed documents and copious papers to guide us toward the safe keeping of our republic. They echo forth the call of wisdom, the ways to confining tyranny and the despotism that precedes the loss of liberty.

We the People in order to PRESERVE our union must unite in not only standing up but standing firm in our principles and our resolve to be educated patriots. Let us not let the genius of our forefathers who mutually pledged to each other, “our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor” or our Revolutionary soldiers who crossed the Delaware walking barefoot on the ice, leaving a bloodstained path, turn over in their graves.

Let us do 90 readings in 90 days – as 90 plus 90 equals 180! Let us turn around, do a 180, and seek the history that holds the key to our future. Let us read the United States Constitution and the Federalist Papers in 90 days, 5 days for the Constitution and 85 days for the 85 Federalist Papers. Read it with your children at the dinner table or before bed. It will only be about three pages a night. Let us have a national discussion one day at a time, one paper at a time, for 90 days at Let’s start on April 20th. Let’s do 90 in 90 and do a 180 – back to the history that yields our future.

Janine Turner is an actress and the founder and co-chairman of “Constituting America.”

A version of this op-ed was published on on April 7, 2010

by Janine Turner

We are in charge of our children’s futures and it’s time for a revolution.
In 1775 Israel Putnam was farming in Brooklyn, Connecticut when he heard the British had fired on the American Militia in Lexington, Massachusetts. He immediately dropped his plow and rode 100 miles in 18 hours to Cambridge, Massachusetts to join the colonial soldiers.
On the way he spread the call for “every man who is fit and willing” to come to his countrymen’s aid.

Israel was resolute when revolution beckoned. He was fit and willing. Are we? Are our children? Or is it time for a 2010 resolution for a revolution?

Revolution conjures thoughts of guns and soldiers, passions and pageants. The revolution that currently beckons is an awakening – not an awakening of political parties or partisan politics but of our youth’s minds.

America’s future lies with them.

What is happening to Americas promise? Their intellectual stimulation is benumbed with mindless text messaging, Xbox and reality television. There is an extraordinary, seemingly boundless amount of information available at their fingertips but the question begs: will it be used benignly or brilliantly? Will our children become hypnotized or revitalized? Unfortunately, I see signs of complacency. Recently, I stumbled upon the following words:

The average age of the world’s greatest civilization has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;

From spiritual faith to great courage;

From courage to liberty;

From liberty to abundance;

From abundance to selfishness;

From selfishness to complacency;

From complacency to apathy;

From apathy to dependency;

From dependency back to bondage.

by Janine Turner

I have a fantasy. It’s fascinating. It’s futuristic. It’s foretelling.

My fantasy is that our country’s forefathers would miraculously appear today in America. I see them walking among us, dressed in velvet coats and knee pants, hair in a pony tails, hats in hand. Thomas Jefferson in Virginia. Alexander Hamilton on Wall Street. John Adams in Boston. Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia. And, George Washington in Washington.

I envision it theatrically, of course, with cameras. A panoramic sweep as they turn full circle in awe. What would they think? Would they be proud? Would they be shocked? I, for one, want them desperately to be pleased.

This is an idea that has fascinated me for decades. I can remember asking my father about it when I was nine: “Dad, what would our forefathers think of America if they returned today? About what would they be most disappointed?”

My father, who is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a man of few words, thought for a moment and simply said, “taxes.”

What would our forefathers think of us today? I yearn for their wisdom. I believe, if they roamed the halls of Congress together and eavesdropped on the conversations, heard the rancor, felt the division,they would say, or at least Thomas Jefferson would say, “Ah, democracy at work.” However, upon further investigation their impressions would sour. They would accurately perceive that the tenor has changed.

During their day, they too differed and fought. They were, at times, wickedly vicious — but it was for Americans. They believed that God wove an innate promise in human beings and they envisioned the infinite possibilities of the mind and soul if freed from tyrannical government. They ardently loved America. Their purpose was for America to be born, to blossom and to be the hope of mankind. They took pride in their remarkable achievements. They believed that their victory over the British and the success in uniting their fledgling country’s passionate diversities as they constructed and ratified the Constitution, were the works of “Divine Providence.”

Brilliant and well read as they were, they would quickly surmise the threats to America. Alarmed by the bitter greed, they would stand at the pulpit of Congress and pound the gavel and say, “Awaken Patriots. Awaken your sense of unity! A Congress divided, for the sake of pride, will most certainly fall. A Congress that betrays its constituents, for the sake of party line, will most assuredly falter. A Congress that bloats bills to the point of obscene obscurity will be condemned.” They would be astounded by a Congress that does not read its own works and warn, “A Congress that cannot or will not read the bills before they vote, before they represent the American people, will, without fail, lead their country and its people to doom.”

When they realize C-SPAN is there, and they would adeptly figure this out, they would look into the camera and warn the American people. They would warn parents that by neglecting to teach their children their rights as embodied in the Constitution as well as the inherent responsibilities of citizenship, they will let America simply slip away. Thomas Jefferson would recount his own words, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” They would warn, “It won’t be sudden. It will be insidious. Those who devalue freedom, who underestimate human

genius, integrity and industriousness, will cunningly dominate the debate.”
Benjamin Franklin would recount his own words, “Think what you do when you run in debt; you give to another power over your liberty.” They would say, “By letting Congress bankrupt your country, you most assuredly will lose your freedom, your free will. By letting Congress take away your right to own a gun, you will let a dictator seize your country and your home, because he will encounter no resistance.” They would quote Samuel Adams’ wisdom, “Be forewarned, the pooling of property and the redistributing of wealth are despotic and unconstitutional.”

They would close with biting truths saying, “Without moral values, which should begin in Congress, America will lose her roots, her basis, her thesis.” They would echo Paul Revere and cry out, “Stand up, Americans. The challenge is coming! The challenge is coming! Let freedom continue to ring!” They would exit Congress and they would not be downtrodden. A smile would emanate from their faces, for they know the heart of Americans.

Janine Turner is an actress and writer.