50 Core Documents Introduction

In 1825, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson discussed by letter the kinds of texts that should be required reading at the recently founded university in Virginia. “It is certainly very material that the true doctrines of liberty, as exemplified in our Political System, should be inculcated on those who are to sustain and may administer it,” Madison wrote. “It is, at the same time,” he continued, “not easy to find standard books that will be both guides & guards for the purpose.” Madison proceeded to recommend certain fundamental documents as essential reading for future citizens and statesmen, including the Declaration of Independence, The Federalist, and George Washington’s Farewell Address…