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

The American Founding: The Bill of Rights

This comprehensive, multimedia online exhibit features a trove of resources on the Bill of Rights. Part I contains the English, Colonial, State, and Continental origins of the Bill of Rights; Part II features the Federalist/Antifederalist Debate over the Bill of Rights; and Part III explains the politics of the Bill of Rights in the First […]

230 Years of the United States Constitution

The Constitution has stood as both the plan for the American system of government and through its 27 amendments, a summary of the political values of generations of Americans. This resource has been assembled to help teachers and anyone interested in the Constitution better understand and appreciate it, using the document itself and other original works contemporaneous with it.

“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.

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