Guest Essayist: William C. Duncan, Director of the Marriage Law Foundation

George Washington’s elegant and courteous letter to James Madison illustrates what America’s most eminent man thought about the existing government, or more properly, the need for reform of the system just prior to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 (as well as providing sage counsel about moderation in dealing with civil unrest and integrity in foreign relations, among other matters).

For Washington, the need for reform centered in the “inadequacy of the powers under which [the Confederation Congress] acts.” Read more

Washington writes here to Madison, two months before the Constitutional Convention was set to start in Philadelphia. A year earlier, only twelve men from five states attended a gathering held in Annapolis, Maryland, to amend the Articles of Confederation. Both men feared the consequences should this convention similarly fail.

March 31, 1787

My dear Sir:

At the same time that I acknowledge the receipt of your obliging favor of the 21st. Ult. from New York, Read more

Guest Essayist: Gennie Westbrook, Director of Curriculum and Professional Development, The Bill of Rights Institute

America’s Founding generation well understood the principle that, in order to maintain individual liberty and freedom of conscience, civil government must be limited in its purpose and its power.  They also knew the history of widespread and bloody religious conflict behind that principle.  At the same time, many Americans believed that government should support religion because religion promoted virtuous lives and nurtured the social order needed for self-government.  Balancing these concerns was a matter of great significance. Read more