A note on what follows: links go to Amazon or to net sites with the document or book in question. In some cases, the link is to the author's name instead of the particular book. That's usually because there's a collection that includes all or most of the works on the list. Sometimes, there are links for individual books and a link to the author's name. That's because there's a collection of shorter pieces in addition to the books. Trust me, you want to get hold of the Library of America collections of the works of the American Founders. They're the best and most complete out there, and they're invaluable as a resource. The Library also has collections of writings and documents from specialized areas of American history. The best of these are The American Revolution and The Debate on the Constitution, which contain a significant number of the entries below.

There are also some increasingly valuable document collections online, especially the Avalon Project at Yale Law School, which is busy collecting the kinds of material that haven't been available to the general public for generations, like the "Charter of Massachusetts Bay, 1629" and "An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery--Pennsylvania, March 1, 1789." There's also the Early Americas Digital Archive at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities at the University of Maryland, which includes poetry, speeches and fiction as well as legal and Constitutional documents, and the Secession Era Editorials Project at Furman University which is attempting to collect a complete set of newspaper editorials dealing with the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, the Caning of Sumner, the Dred Scott case, and the activities of John Brown. You can also try The Founders' Constitution by Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner, put up online by the University of Chicago Press and the Liberty Fund.

In general, any document available online is available in print if you want it that way, but out of consideration for the limited money we all have to spend, I've tried to put up links to free sources of the shorter documents where they're available.

In some cases, there is no link, meaning I haven't been able to find an available contemporary source for the document or book. You might still find it in your local library. If I come across a source, I'll revise the links to include whatever I've found.

I've also opted for unabridged editions, even where these are more expensive--read the whole thing, not just part of it. In some cases, however, no unabridged edition exists in print, and then I've pointed you at an abridged edition or an excerpt.

The inclusion of a book on this list does not mean that I agree with the opinions it expresses. It just means I think it's had an impact on this country, in the long run as well as the short.

I reserve the right to add to this list if and when I think I've forgotten something I shouldn't have.

Adams, Henry. The Education of Henry Adams.

History of the United States During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson..

Adams, John. Letters to Abigail Adams.

Letters to Thomas Jefferson.

Addams, Jane. Democracy and Social Ethics.

Peace and Bread in Time of War.

Twenty Years at Hull House.

Alexander, Edward Porter. Fighting for the Confederacy.

Allen, Ethan. A Narrative of Colonel Ethan Allen's Captivity.

An American Citizen. "The English and American Constitutions Contrasted."

----------------------. Anti-Federalist Papers.

Arnold, Benedict. "To The Inhabitants of America."

-----------------------. Articles of Confederation (online).

-----------------------. Constitution of the United States (online).

-----------------------. Debates at the Constitutional Convention.

-----------------------. Declaration of Independence (online)

----------------------. Declaration of Sentiments (online).

Baldwin, James. The Fire Next Time.

Barlow, Joel. Advice to the Privileged Orders in the Several States of Europe.

The Conspiracy of Kings (online).

Treaty of Peace and Friendship (aka Treaty of Tripoli) (online).

Bourne, Randolph. "The War and the Intellectuals."

"War is the Health of the State."

Brown, Claude. Manchild in the Promised Land.

Bryan, William Jennings. The Cross of Gold.

God or Evolution?


Buckley, William. God and Man at Yale.

Chambers, Whittaker. Witness.

Chomsky, Noam and Edward S. Herman. Manufacturing Consent.

Cleaver, Eldridge. Soul on Ice.

Continental Congress. Addresses to the Six Nations (online).

Custer, Elizabeth Bacon. Tenting on the Plains.

Darrow, Clarence. The Story of My Life.

Verdicts Out of Court.

"Why I Am An Agnostic." (online)

Davis, Jefferson. The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.

Dewey, John. Democracy and Education.

Individualism Old and New.

The School and Society.

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself.

DuBois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folk.

Dwight, Timothy. A Discourse on the Character of George Washington.

The Nature and Danger of Infidel Philosophy.

Theology Explained and Defended.

Travels in New England and New York.

Edwards, Jonathan. The Freedom of the Will.

"Sinners At The Hands of an Angry God."

Ralph Waldo Emerson. The American Scholar.

Conduct of Life.


"New England Reformers."

"On Nature."

"The Over-Soul."




"Self Reliance."

Society and Solitude.

The Transcendentalist.

-----------------------. Federalist Papers.

Franklin, Benjamin. Autobiography.

A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain.

Plan of Conduct.

Poor Richard's Almanac.

Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique.

Gilder, George. Men and Marriage.

Naked Nomads.

Wealth and Poverty.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Home, Its Work, and Its Influence.

The Man-Made World.

Women and Economics.

Goldman, Emma. Anarchism and Other Essays.

Living My Life, vol. 1.

Living My Life, vol. 2.

Goldwater, Barry. The Conscience of a Conservative.

"Acceptance Speech, Republican Convention, 1964."

Grant, Julia Dent. Memoirs of Julia Dent Grant.

Grant, Ulysses S. Personal Memoirs.

Gray, Robert. "Observations on the War in Carolina."

Grimke, Angelina. An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South (online).

An Appeal to the Women of the Nominally Free States.

Grimke, Sarah. An Epistle to the Clergy of the Southern States.

Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Women.

Hamilton, Alexander. The Continentalist.

Concerning the Public Conduct and Character of John Adams, Esquire,

President of the United States.

"A Full Vindication of the Measures of Congress."

"Memorandum on the French Revolution."

"Memorandum on Measures for Strengthening the Government."

Plan of Government.

"Propositions on the Law of Libel."

Report on a National Bank.

"Reynolds Pamphlet."

"Rules for Philip Hamilton."

Henry, Patrick. "Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death."

"Shall Liberty or Empire Be Sought?"

"Speech Before the Virginia House of Burgesses. 1765."

Hofstadter, Richard. Anti-Intellectualism in American Live.

The Paranoid Style in American Politics.

Ingersoll, Robert. "Why I Am an Agnostic."

James, William. Pragmatism.

The Varieties of Religious Experience.

Jefferson, Thomas. Addresses.


Letters and other private papers.

"Letter to the Danbury Baptists."

Notes on the State of Virginia.

King, Martin Luther. "I Have A Dream."

"Letter from the Birmingham Jail."

Stride Toward Freedom.

Lee, Robert E. Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee.

Lincoln, Abraham. "The Emancipation Proclamation."

"The Gettysburg Address."

Speeches and Writings 1832-1858.

Speeches and Writings 1859-1865.

London, Jack. Revolution and Other Essays.

The War of the Classes.

Madison, James. "Advice to My Country, 1834."

Amendments to the Virginia Declaration of Rights.



Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments.

"Public Opinion."

"Report on the Alien and Sedition Acts January 7, 1800."

State of the Union Addresses.

Vices of the Political System of the United States.

"Who Are The Best Keepers of the People's Liberties."

Mailer, Norman. Advertisements for Myself.

The Armies of the Night.

Marilyn: A Biography.

Miami and the Siege of Chicago.

The Prisoner of Sex.

Martin, T.T. Hell and High Schools.

Mather, Cotton. Corderius Americanus or an Essay on the Good Education of Children.

Life and Death of the Ever Remarkable Increase Mather.

Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions.

Paterna: The Autobiography.

The Wonders of the Invisible World.

Mather, Increase. Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits.(online).

-----------------------. The Mayflower Compact (online).

Oliver, Peter. The Origin and Progress of the American Rebellion.

Paine, Thomas. The Age of Reason.

Common Sense.

The Rights of Man.

-----------------. Portsmouth Compact (online).

Rand, Ayn. Atlas Shrugged.

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

Reed, John. Ten Days That Shook The World.

Revere, Paul. "Memorandum on the Events of April 18, 1775."

Rhodes, Elisha Hunt. All for the Union: The Civil War Diary and Letters.

Roosevelt, Eleanor. Autobiography.

Roosevelt, Franklin D. "Address before Congress/Declaration of War on Germany and Italy." "Address before Congress/Declaration of War on Japan."

"Address to the Conference on the Mobilization for Human Needs." "Message to Chancellor Adolf Hitler and Premier Benito Mussolini."

"Message to Congress on the Bretton Woods Agreements."

"Message to Congress on the Creation of the TVA."

"Message to the Nations of the World on Disarmament."

"Message to the Senate/Segregation and the War Relocation Authority."

"Radio Address on the National Economic Emergency."

"Statement on the Adoption of Peacetime Selective Service."

"Statement on Signing the GI Bill of Rights."

Roosevelt, Theodore. America and the World War.

American Ideals.

Essays on Practical Politics.

The Foes of Our Own Household.

The New Nationalism.

Presidential Papers and Addresses.

Progressive Principles.

Social Justice and Popular Rule.

The Winning of the West.

Sacco, Nicola. Letters.

Sherman, W.T. Memoirs.

-----------------. Slave Narratives.

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. Eighty Years and More: Reminiscences 1815-1897.

The Women's Bible.

Steinbeck, John. Travels with Charley.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Students for a Democratic Society. Port Huron Statement (online).

Supreme Court of the United States. Abington School District v. Schemp, 1962.

Brandenburg v. Ohio, 1969.

Brown v. Board of Education, 1954.

Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 1819.

Dred Scott v. Sanford, 1857.

Edwards v. Aguillard, 1987.

Engel v. Vitale, 1962.

Gibbons v. Ogden, 1824.

Gideon v. Wainwright, 1963.

McCulloch v. Maryland, 1819.

Mapp v. Ohio, 1961.

Marbury v. Madison, 1803.

Miller v. California, 1972.

Miranda v. Arizona, 1966.

Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 1925.

Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896.

Roe v. Wad, 1973.

Texas v. Johnson, 1989.

Tinker v. Des Moines, 1969.

United States v. Nixon, 1974.

University of California v. Bakke, 1978.

Thompson, Hunter S. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Thoreau, Henry David. Civil Disobedience.

Plea for Captain John Brown.

Slavery in Massachusetts.


Torrey, R.A., et. al. The Fundamentals.

Truth, Sojourner. "Ain't I A Woman?" (online)

Washington, Booker. Up From Slavery.

Washington, George. "Address to the Continental Congress."

"Eighth Annual Message to Congress."

"Farewell Address."

"Farewell Address to the Armies of the United States."

"Farewell Address to the Virginia Regiment.

"Fifth Annual Message to Congress."

"First Annual Message to Congress."

"First Inaugural Address."

"Fourth Annual Message to Congress."

"Last Will and Testament."


Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.

"Second Annual Message to Congress."

"Second Inaugural Address."

"Seventh Annual Message to Congress."

"Sixth Annual Message to Congress."

"Third Annual Message to Congress."

"To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island."

"To the Members of the New Church in Baltimore."

"To the United Baptist Churches in Virginia."

Webster, Noah. An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (online).

Windolph, Charles. I Fought With Custer.

Wolfe, Tom. Radical Chic and Mau Mauing the Flak Catchers.

Copyright © 2004 Jane Haddam. All rights reserved.

Comments on this essay?