Constitution 201

“The Founders’ Constitution and the Challenge of Progressivism”


The principles of the American Founding, embodied in the Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the Constitution, came under assault by Progressives of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Progressivism rejects the Founders’ ideas of natural rights, limited government, the  separation of powers, representation, and federalism.  Progressive government, exemplified by the modern administrative state, has fundamentally transformed key aspects of the American way of life.



Note: all readings link to Hillsdale's online Constitution Reader, also available at


  1. The Declaration of Independence
  2. The Constitution of the United States of America
  3. “Cornerstone Speech” - Alexander Stephens
  4. “The American Conception of Liberty” - Frank Goodnow
  5. “What is Progress” - Woodrow Wilson


Download a PDF of the Week One supplementary readings.

Q & A Session

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Larry P. Arnn is the twelfth president of Hillsdale College, where he is also a professor of politics and history. He received his B.A. from Arkansas State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Government from the Claremont Graduate School. He also studied at Worcester College, Oxford University, where he served as director of research for Sir Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill. From 1985 to 2000, he served as president of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy. He serves on several boards of directors, and he previously served on the U.S. Army War College Board of Visitors for two years for which he earned the Department of the Army’s Outstanding Civilian Service Medal. In 2015, he received the Bradley Prize from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. A member of numerous organizations including the Churchill Centre, he is the author of three books: Liberty and Learning: The Evolution of American Education; The Founders’ Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution and What We Risk by Losing It; and, most recently, Churchill’s Trial: Winston Churchill and the Salvation of Free Government.