Ashbrook Center's TeachingAmericanHistory.org

Personally dedicated by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, the Ashbrook Center is an independent center at Ashland University, devoted to teaching what it means to be an American by providing educational programs for teachers, students and citizens focused on primary source documents. Since its founding, the Ashbrook Center has demonstrated an extraordinary track record of success by building and refining a series of high-quality programs that have an impact on millions of Americans nationwide.

Featured Resources

“What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”

Frederick Douglass earned wide renown as an outspoken and eloquent critic of the institution of slavery. In this speech before a sizeable audience of New York abolitionists, Douglass reminds them that the Fourth of July, though a day of celebration for white Americans, was still a day of mourning for slaves and former slaves like himself, because they were reminded of the unfulfilled promise of equal liberty for all in the Declaration of Independence.

“Corner Stone” Speech

This speech was delivered in Savannah after Georgia and six other states had seceded from the Union but before hostilities had begun with the Confederate assault on Fort Sumter. Stephens lauded the Confederate states for rejecting the radical theories of Thomas Jefferson and the American founders and establishing instead, for the first time in history, a government resting upon the self-evident truth of racial inequality.

Letter to James Madison

This letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison in September, 1789 focuses on human rights and the principles of every government. The question: Whether one generation of men has a right to bind another, seems never to have been started either on this or our side of the water. Yet it is a question of such consequences as not only to merit decision, but place also, among the fundamental principles of every government. The course of reflection in which we are immersed here on the elementary principles of society has presented this question to my mind and that no such obligation can be transmitted I think very capable of proof.

Federalist No. 10

Federalist 10 is part of a remarkable public discussion between Federalists and Anti-federalists on the nature of republican government.

Letter From Birmingham City Jail (Excerpts), Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK was leading a demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama where it was forbidden to make demonstrations. This was the first time King had decided to break the law for he believed that the law was unjust. While incarcerated he wrote a letter in reply to a letter published about accusations made on him in the Birmingham Post Herald.

The Talented Tenth, W.E.B. DuBois

W.E.B Du Bois emphasizes the necessity for higher education in order to develop proper leadership capabilities among the most able 10% of black Americans. He often stressed the importance of educating his peers.

Slavery a Positive Good, John C. Calhoun

John C. Calhoun was a U.S. statesman and spokesman for the slave-plantation system of the South. He explains in this article that slavery gives people more serious opportunities to better themselves because of slaves.

“I Have a Dream” Speech, Martin Luther King, Jr.

On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his address on his vision for the future of America regarding race equality. The speech was to emphasize the importance of this movement. 100 years before, Lincoln gave his Emancipation speech and 200 years earlier the Declaration of Independence was signed. Now it is time to end oppression in America for good.

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