Less Is More: Heritage’s Unique Approach to Primary Sources

Mike Kelsey /

Unsure why the Founders adamantly supported the separation of powers? Need to prove to a friend that Progressives rejected natural rights and limited government? The best way to answer these questions is to study the words of the Founders and the Progressives themselves, but sifting through the mass of online historical documents to find the best ones can be a daunting task.

Fortunately, Heritage’s new First Principles Web page makes the process easy. Our unique “primary sources” section presents the most essential American political texts in an easily accessible format. Most importantly, we’ve added short introductions explaining the significance of each document.

Rather than dumping every public domain document we find into an un-navigable swamp of archaic texts, Heritage has chosen 50 primary documents that every thoughtful, principled conservative should know. The documents have been organized into four crucial themes: the American Founding, Constitutional Government, Progressivism and Liberalism, and Conservatism. Simply pick a theme and scan through the short descriptions of each piece until you find the one you need.

The introductions to each piece not only summarize their arguments but also place them in their proper historical context within the American political tradition. For instance, did you know that Calvin Coolidge directly confronted his progressive contemporaries’ accusation that the Declaration of Independence is outdated?

In case you missed it, check out our user-friendly “basics” headlining the must-read publications and short answers to the pressing questions on each theme.