Jun 14, 2017
Show 1841 Part 2 of 10. Constitution 101. The Meaning and History of the Constitution.
Note from ACU- We have started this course with lecture 2. Lecture 1 is a bit slow. We did not want it to deter listeners from the rest of this very fine course on the Constitution. We have included lecture 1 at the end of this series
This show was originally published as ACU Show 825 and is here republished.
For this free online course with video lectures, reading materials, study guide, quiz and Certificate of Completion visit-
Part 2 of 10 The Declaration of Independence
The soul of the American founding is located in the enduring political principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence. The meaning of these principles, especially equality, is decisively different than the definition given to those principles by modern progressivism.
Equality means that nature ordains no one to be the ruler of any other person. Each human being is also equal in his natural rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are inalienable and possessed simply by virtue of being human.
Equality, liberty, and natural rights require that legitimate government be republican. The truth that all human beings are born free, equal, and independent means that a just government must be based on the consent of the governed—a consent which must be expressed through ongoing elections. The political theory of the Declaration of Independence requires that government secure the natural rights of the citizens through adopting and enforcing criminal laws; adopting and enforcing civil laws regarding property, family, education, and provision for the poor; and providing for national defense.
If the regime fails to operate according to these principles, the people have a right and duty to alter or abolish the government and establish a new government which will secure rights through the consent of the governed.
The people thus play a vital role in protecting their rights. They must be educated in “religion, morality, and knowledge.” A people that is not virtuous will not be able to perpetuate free government.
Modern liberalism uses the same language of “equality” as the Declaration of Independence. Yet modern liberals mean something altogether different than what the Founders meant by those words. For the Progressives, “equality” means that government must redistribute wealth to provide equal access to resources. This idea necessitates government programs that help mankind liberate itself from its “natural limitations.”
The Declaration of Independence and modern Progressivism are fundamentally opposed to each other. The modern misunderstanding of “equality” threatens the whole of the American constitutional and moral order.
Thomas G. West is the Paul and Dawn Potter Professor of Politics at Hillsdale College, where he has taught since 2011. Dr. West teaches courses in American politics, with a focus on the U.S. Constitution, civil rights, foreign policy, and the political thought of the American founding. He also teaches courses in political philosophy, with particular emphasis on Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke.
Prior to joining the faculty at Hillsdale, Dr. West was Professor of Politics at the University of Dallas, where he taught from 1974 to 2011. Formerly a visiting scholar at the Heritage Foundation and at Claremont McKenna College, Dr. West is a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute, where he teaches in the Institute’s Publius and Lincoln Fellows summer programs. He is the author of the best-selling Vindicating the Founders: Race, Sex, Class, and Justice in the Origins of America, and co-translator of Four Texts on Socrates: Plato’s Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito, and Aristophanes’ Clouds, of which there are more than 180,000 copies in print. He received his B.A. from Cornell University and his Ph.D. from the Claremont Graduate University.
About the Course Constitution 101
“Constitution 101: The Meaning and History of the Constitution” is a free 10-week online course presented by Hillsdale College.
Featuring an expanded format from the “Introduction to the Constitution” lecture series with Hillsdale College President Dr. Larry Arnn, Constitution 101 follows closely the one-semester course required of all Hillsdale College undergraduate students.
In this course, you can:
You must register in order to participate in Constitution 101. Even if you have already signed up for a previous Hillsdale webcast or seminar, we ask that you complete the simple registration process for Constitution 101. There is no cost to register for this course, but we ask that you consider a donation to support our efforts to educate millions of Americans about our nation’s Founding documents and principles.
Hillsdale College Free Online Courses-
Related ACU Shows-
Show 821 Part 1 and 2 of 5. Introduction to the Constitution Lecture Series
Show 822 Part 3 and 4 of 5. Introduction to the Constitution Lecture Series
Show 823 Part 5 of 5. Introduction to the Constitution Lecture Series
Related Hillsdale Course- Constitution 201
Hillsdale College Course Catalog
Questions about the Courses? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions page.
Introduction to the Constitution—Available Now!
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C.S. Lewis was the greatest Christian apologist of the twentieth century. He was also the author of works of fiction, including the Chronicles of Narnia, and of philosophy, including The Abolition of Man. This course will consider Lewis’s apologetics and his fiction, as well as his philosophical and literary writings, and their continuing significance today.
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This is a free, ten-week, not-for-credit online course offered by Hillsdale College. With introductory and concluding lectures by Hillsdale College President Larry P. Arnn, the eight lectures at its core—taught by Gary Wolfram, the William E. Simon Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Hillsdale College—will focus on the foundational principles of the free market. Topics will include the relationship of supply and demand, the “information problem” behind the failure of central planning, the rise of macroeconomics under the influence of John Maynard Keynes, and the 2008 financial crisis.
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This is a free, ten-week, not-for-credit online course offered by Hillsdale College. With introductory and concluding lectures by Hillsdale College President Larry P. Arnn, the nine lectures—taught by members of Hillsdale College's politics department faculty—are a continuation of Constitution 101 (2012): The Meaning & History of the Constitution. These lectures will focus on the importance of the principles of the American Founding and the current assault on them by the Progressives.
Other Lectures and Programs
Dialogues: A Survey of Great Books, Great Men, and Great
Weekly series featuring Hillsdale President Larry Arnn, national radio host Hugh Hewitt, and members of the Hillsdale College faculty.
Hillsdale College's Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.
Imprimis is the free monthly speech digest of Hillsdale College. The content of Imprimis is drawn from speeches delivered to Hillsdale College-hosted events. First published in 1972, Imprimis is one of the most widely circulated opinion publications in the nation with over 3.6 million subscribers.