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Reading Andrew Jackson’s Veto of the National Bank | A Primary Source Close Read w/ BRI

BRI Senior Teaching Fellow Tony Williams sits down with Dr. Todd Estes, professor of history at Oakland University and author of The Jay Treaty Debate, to give Andrew Jackson’s 1832 Veto Message a close read. In the veto message, Jackson argued that the bank corrupted politics and violated the Constitution. . What role do you believe the executive has in creating legislation? Why are checks and balances a vital part of our Constitution?

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Reading Excerpts from Mapp v. Ohio | A Primary Source Close Read w/ BRI

Join BRI staff Kirk Higgins and Joshua Schmid as they break down excerpts from Mapp v. Ohio, a landmark Supreme Court case that ruled that illegally obtained evidence cannot be used in a state court. They'll explore how the majority and dissenting opinions conveyed very different interpretations of how the 4th and 14th Amendments were meant to work together, and what role the exclusionary rule has in state law. Did this ruling promote or prevent fairness in our justice system?

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Reading Excerpts from George Washington’s Diary (1753-1754) | A Primary Source Close Read w/ BRI

BRI Senior Teaching Fellow Tony Williams sits down with historian and author Stephen F. Knott to talk about the fascinating excerpts from George Washington’s Diaries in our new digital history textbook, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Knott and Williams examine the text of Washington’s Diaries from 1753-1754 in which the young Virginian engaged in a key colonial diplomatic mission to the French Empire. They also explore the context of the larger imperial struggle involving the French, British, colonists, and Native Americans in North America during the mid-eighteenth century.

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Reading the Marshall Plan Speech | A Primary Source Close Read w/ BRI

Reflecting on the recent 75th anniversary of V-J Day, Kirk and Tony break down the Marshall Plan Speech from 1947 to understand the inception of the U.S. program that would provide a war-torn Europe with more than $13 billion in aid. What were the political and humanitarian arguments that Secretary of State Marshall used to persuade Americans to support his plan? And what parts of the speech foreshadowed how America's role in the world would change?

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Reading William Penn and John Winthrop | A Primary Source Close Read w/ BRI

BRI staff members Kirk Higgins and Tony Williams explore two intriguing 17th-century works that shed light on why colonial America was an appealing destination for European settlers in different ways. The seminal “Modell of Christian Charity” sermon delivered by John Winthrop in 1630 viewed the New World as an opportunity for Puritans to worship freely and escape the religious oppression of the corrupt Church of England. In a letter from 1683, William Penn painted an idyllic picture of Pennsylvania – including its beautiful land and bountiful natural resources – to entice people to immigrate to the new colony.

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Learning from The Sky is Now Her Limit Cartoon | A Primary Source Close Read w/ BRI

Mary Patterson and Elizabeth Evans take a deep dive into Elmer Andrews Bushnell’s powerful political cartoon, “The Sky Is Now Her Limit.” The cartoon’s publication coincided with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, celebrating the seemingly limitless opportunities that suffrage would unlock for women. Exploring the themes of equality and empowerment, Mary and Elizabeth make connections between this work and the impassioned struggles of contemporary leaders like Alice Paul. What does this cartoon convey about society during the time of the 19th Amendment's ratification?

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Woodrow Wilson’s The Author and Signers of the Declaration | A Primary Source Close Read w/ BRI

Join BRI staff Kirk Higgins and Tony Williams as they examine Woodrow Wilson’s prescient “The Author and Signers of the Declaration” (1907), in which the future president set the stage for the American progressive movement of the 20th century. Kirk and Tony discuss Wilson’s ideas on the Declaration of Independence and the Founders, capturing the new challenges and attitudes towards government that emerged in the early 1900s. Wilson argued that the United States must prioritize action over theory to enable true, efficient progress in the modern age and to actualize the Founding Principle of liberty. How did Wilson’s view of progressivism expand the scope and role of government?

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Reading the Truman Doctrine Address | A Primary Source Close Read w/ BRI

Mary and Tony discuss the 1947 “Truman Doctrine” speech, in which President Harry S. Truman addressed Congress regarding the urgent need to assist Greece, Turkey, and other governments actively under threat from Communist pressures. Believing that only a superpower like the United States was in a position to mitigate these global Communist crises, Truman called on Congress and America at large to step up and serve as a model of freedom for the rest of the world. What were the implications of Truman’s momentous address?

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Reading Winston Churchill’s Sinews of Peace | A Primary Source Close Read w/ BRI

BRI staff members Mary Patterson and Tony Williams discuss Winston Churchill’s 1946 “Sinews of Peace” address, in which he issued a biting repudiation of the spreading Communism throughout Eastern Europe in the wake of World War II. With President Harry S. Truman in attendance, the former British prime minister delivered this "Iron Curtain" speech to an American audience in Fulton, MO, stressing the important role the United States occupied as the leader of the free world in the global fight against tyranny. Join Tony and Mary as they explore the significance of Churchill’s speech in presaging the Cold War!

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Reading the Sedition Act of 1918 | A Primary Source Close Read w/ BRI

In 1918, the Sedition Act of 1918, which amended the Espionage Act of 1917, was enacted. This Wilson-era Act imposed harsh freedom-of-speech restrictions in order to sustain domestic war propaganda and suppress public opposition to the war. They were upheld by the Supreme Court and remained in place until 1921. In this dialogue, Tony and Joshua discuss the importance of staying vigilant against government violations of free expression; should wartime circumstances change the types of free-speech protections that are afforded to Americans under the First Amendment?

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Reading the Sedition Act of 1798 | A Primary Source Close Read w/ BRI

In the first installment of this two-part close reading on Sedition Acts, BRI staff members Joshua Schmid and Tony Williams discuss the highly controversial Sedition Act of 1798, which arrived at a particularly tumultuous time in American history. In light of growing diplomatic tension between the United States and France, President John Adams and the Federalists feared that if war were to ultimately break out, the Jeffersonians would be disloyal towards America​. For this reason, the Sedition Act severely limited people’s ability to freely and publicly criticize the American government. Join Tony and Joshua as they explore the important constitutional implications of this first Sedition Act for the young republic!

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Reading the Declaration of Sentiments | A Primary Source Close Read w/BRI

In this primary source close reading, Bill of Rights Institute Senior Teaching Fellow Tony Williams is joined by special guest, Emily Krichbaum, a history teacher at Columbus School for Girls, a former professor at Ashland University, and a scholar-reviewer for BRI's Women’s Suffrage curriculum. Tony and Emily take a closer look at the Declaration of Sentiments, signed in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention. How does this document relate to constitutional principles and civic virtues such as civil rights, liberty, equality, and justice? How does it apply today?