Women of Washington

Communicating America’s Founding Principles

Women of Washington is an educational organization with a focus on understanding local, national, and global issues that are critical to our world today.

Constitution Corner

A Bi-Monthly Brief of America's Founding Documents

The principles set forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights are foundational to Women of Washington.  Therefore, we
 are beginning this member-study series of our Founding Documents, coupled with related historical events and modern-day English comparisons from The Constitution Made Easy by Michael Holler.  Our founders carefully wrote these documents to create an enduring framework of limited government based on the rule of law.  Dr. Matthew Spalding, of the Heritage Foundation, states in his book, We Still Hold These Truths, "...our universities and law schools -- who teach the next generation, shape our popular culture, and set the terms of our political discourse -- passionately believe the truths, laid out in our Constitution, don't apply for all time."  We wholeheartedly disagree; our fore-bearers believed the Founding Documents made this country exceptional and, so do we.

The use of the term, AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM, is first credited to Alexis de Tocqueville, who stated that, "America is great because America is good," in his 1835/1840 book, Democracy in American.  Wikipedia tells us that in 1861, The Times of London stated that the term was used to refer to the United States and its self-image. In the 1920's, even the American Communist Party claimed that the U.S. was independent of the Marxist laws; "...thanks to its natural resources, industrial capacity, and absence of rigid class distinctions."  From there, the term, American Exceptionalism, moved into general use among intellectuals, and other persons who wanted to praise, or criticize, the U.S. and its people.

So, let's begin our own study of America's Exceptional Founding Documents.

Declaration of Independence Part 6

May 19, 2017

Franklin Anticipates the Declaration of Independence

In 1754, Franklin was a Pennsylvania delegate to a Convention of the Colonies which met in Albany NY on "the defense and security against the French" where Franklin proposed having the colonies unite as one country.  It's interesting to note he advanced the concept of the United States 22 years before the Declaration of Independence became a reality. 

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Declaration of Independence Part 5

May 5, 2017

Thomas Jefferson - Patriot. 
It was in 1765 that 22-year-old Thomas Jefferson was stirred by Patrick Henry's  celebrated speech against Great Britain's Stamp Act which put a tax on every piece of paper used by the colonists.  Henry resolved that only the Colony of Virginia should be able to levy taxes on its citizens.  From that time forward, Jefferson became a champion for American Freedom.  Note: Patrick Henry's famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech was to come ten years later.  

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Declaration of Independence Part 4

April 21, 2017

After Signing the Declaration of Independence

When the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence affixed their name to that document, they knew they were committing treason; that they were taking on the most powerful military force on earth with a ragtag army and militias made up of farmers and merchants.  Benjamin Franklin famously said as he was signing: "We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”  Indeed, many of the signers fought, some were captured, some lost their homes, their fortunes and sometimes their families.  

What the signers did following the war gives further testament to the greatness of the men that assembled in Philadelphia that sultry summer.

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Declaration of Independence Part 3

March 24, 2017

The World’s Most Famous Mission Statement

As we learned last week, the Declaration of Independence can be read in less than 5 minutes.  Yes, that is right - the very document that ignited the American Revolution and launched the nation that would become a “shining city on a hill” - can be read in less time than the instructions for your new toaster. 

We recognize Thomas Jefferson as the true author of the Declaration of Independence but four other men were appointed to the writing committee:  John Adams, Ben Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman.  

Today we explore the four components of the Declaration itself.

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Declaration of Independence Part 2

March 3, 2017

The Declaration of Independence can be read in under 5 minutes!  However, following up on the participants' names and the human stories during this epic time in U.S. history can be inspiring.  In this document, which would be presented to the British Monarch, the Continental Congress listed 27 grievances signifying the extent to which the Colonists suffered at the hands of the British.  In summary, they wrote of their inhumane treatment:  "...works of death, desolation and tyranny...with circumstances of Cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages..." 

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Declaration of Independence Part 1

February 17, 2017

Before the writing of The Declaration of Independence, in 1744 the Continental Congress petitioned England's King George III, asking for a repeal of "intolerable acts," such as: taxation without representation (in the British Parliament); property seized without consent (search and seizure); and abolishment of trial by jury (being at the absolute mercy of the British forces in North America).  At the time of the writing and submission of their petition, the members of the Continental Congress were intent upon presenting themselves as loyal subjects to King George however, the King ignored and vetoed their petition and, while warning them that the 13 colonies were subject to the laws of England and must abide by them.

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