American Heritage: A Reader

Edited by the Hillsdale College History Faculty

Too many colleges and universities have become places for focusing on means and not upon ends—and, as such, places where the confused and bewildered of the next generation acquire techniques and tools, but graduate having gained neither direction nor order to their souls.

A liberal arts education is an education in those things that are worth studying for their own sake, because they are beautiful, good, and true, because they help make us wise and prepare us to live well. While the practical utility of the documents in this book may elude immediate detection, the inheritance they offer is beyond the price.

The Hillsdale College History Faculty has painstakingly assembled this volume (and its companion volume, Western Heritage: A Reader) in order to provide its own students with a true liberal arts education grounded in the Western and American traditions. Now it is making these collections available for the first time to others. Perfect for classroom use at the high school level and up, these extraordinary textbooks will provide readers both inside and outside the classroom with a traditional educational experience that enlarges and ennobles the mind.

From the Preface:

“The primary role of this Reader is to supply a rich sample of documents from the periods we examine. These primary sources provide portals into the American past. Reading them, we escape the provincialism of our own time and culture. As artifacts of the past, they do not convey information merely, but they are the sources that historians interpret to make sense of our past.  Consequently, we invite students to engage in the same enterprise as they examine these fragments of the American past as the primary means of understanding both the roots of American order and sources for contemporary disorders.  This daunting task of viewing sympathetically ideas that, although part of our heritage, seem distant and alien is an important and exhilarating part of a proper education in which one seeks to make sense of oneself as an American.”