American Civics


The American republic rests upon the foundation of “E Pluribus Unum”—out of many, one. Although the Founders knew from their own experience that a vast diversity in outlooks and opinions would be present among the country’s citizens, they understood that such diversity must rest upon principles and practices we hold in common. It is up to each generation to make sure that this foundational unity remains intact. This project on American Civics seeks to contribute to that worthy cause.

These pages will bring together, into one place, the clearest, most accessible materials on the American experiment. Visitors will gain insight into topics ranging from the “self-evident” truths described in the Declaration of Independence and the framework that the Constitution set in place to prevent tyranny and secure rights and liberties to the virtues citizens must possess in order to enjoy freedom and self-government. Nor will we shy away from exploring the greatest injustices in U.S. history, including slavery and racial discrimination. Present at the Founding, they were departures from the nation’s founding principles. Neither this paradox, nor these injustices define the American Identity, however. Rather, it is on the basis of those principles that they are rightly condemned—and ultimately addressed.  

Users will also find the 1776 Series: a collection of accessible essays written by scholars that explore how the American Founders understood themselves and the system of government they implemented. These essays will give readers a clear and concise understanding of important American themes, such as the republican nature of the U.S. Constitution and Abraham Lincoln’s deep appreciation of the moral foundations of American self-government. These pages will also curate modern thinking on topics such as balancing the desire for security with the innate American impulse for individual freedom; the challenge of preserving judicial independence in a polarized political environment; how to simultaneously foster intellectual curiosity and tolerance among a generation ready to take democracy’s baton and run with it.  

RealClearPublicAffairs is a new series of sponsored curation designed to provide coverage of important and trending public policy issues. More About

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Essential Reading

  • William B. Allen, RealClearPublicAffairs
    As George Washington’s first presidential administration, the first term of government under the United States Constitution...
  • Editors, RealClearPublicAffairs
    America’s greatest challenge has always been living up to the soaring pledge of the Declaration of Independence. When America falls short...
  • Carl M. Cannon, RealClearPolitics
    At the peak of his popularity, Jay Leno could put his “Tonight Show” audience in stitches merely by sticking a microphone in front of ordinary Americans...
  • Dennis Hale & Marc Landy, RealClearPublicAffairs
    It’s hard not to notice that in the United States, political arguments frequently turn on questions that, in other democracies, nobody talks about...
  • Is America fundamentally defined by slavery or the principles of the Declaration of Independence? Find out here...
  • Learn the meaning of the Declaration of Independence's most famous principle, that "all men are created equal”...
  • Learn how to think about American slavery in light of the principle of natural human equality...
  • Learn how Americans past and present understand the meaning of liberty...
  • Lucas Morel, RealClearPublicAffairs
    Abraham Lincoln believed that the success of American self-government required the right ideas and the right institutions...
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In the News

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Carl Cannon's Great American Stories

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Bono, Georgetown University
Glenn Loury & John Wood, The Glenn Show
Edward Lengel & Tony Williams, Bill of Rights Scholar Talks
America Goes to War: “How WWI Changed America” <div class="video-icon"></div>
WWI Centennial Education Partnership
John Miller & Robert Reilly, The Bookmonger
Dan Mahoney & Steve Hayward, The Power Line Show
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