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Summer Civics Institute for Virginia Teachers

The American Political Tradition

Professional Development Seminar
June 2020
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA

The Program on Constitutionalism and Democracy will host a week-long professional development seminar for middle- and high-school teachers at the University of Virginia exploring the political philosophy and continuing legacy of the American Founding through primary sources. In this five-day, small-group seminar, led by faculty from the UVA Department of Politics, we will read and discuss such texts as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers. We will examine evolving debates over religious freedom, over slavery, abolition, and civil rights, and over the constitutional powers of the three branches. This seminar provides invaluable preparation for civics, American history, and government classes.

The seminar is free for teachers selected to participate, who will receive:

  • A stipend of $200
  • 20 contact hours towards professional development credit
  • Continental breakfast and lunch each day, plus an opening reception and a group dinner on the Thursday evening
  • Guided tour of Monticello
  • A bound volume of primary source readings, sent in advance of the seminar

Check this space in December 2019 for more details on dates and deadlines!


Applicants for the 2020 seminar must be able to commute to the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville during the week of the seminar. No overnight accommodations will be provided, but parking on campus will be available. Public, private, and other qualified teachers of grades 6-12 are invited to apply. To apply, please complete the application form and email it to Lynn Uzzell at leu9e[at]virginia.edu. The application deadline for summer 2020 will be announced in December. Applicants will be notified by May 1. A $30 registration fee is required to reserve a spot for those selected to participate (to be refunded on condition of attendance).

Daily Schedule

9:00 – 9:30: Coffee and pastries
9:30 – 10:30: Session I
10:30 – 10:45: Break
10:45 – 11:45: Session II
11:45 – 12:45: Lunch
12:45 – 1:45: Session III
1:45 – 2:00: Break
2:00 – 3:00: Session IV

Reading Schedule

Session I: Natural Rights and the Social Contract
John Locke, selections from Second Treatise on Government (1689)
Declaration of Independence (in Federalist Papers)
Brief selections of Jefferson’s letters

Session II: Debates over small vs. large republics
Brutus, “No.1”
Centinel, “No. 1”
Federalist Papers, No. 10, 51

Session III: What should be in a constitution?
U.S. Bill of Rights (1789)
Franklin D. Roosevelt, State of the Union Address (1944)
Selections from Debates of the Maryland Constitutional Convention (1967-1968)
Thomas Jefferson, “Letter to Samuel Kercheval,” July 12, 1816

Session IV: Who should interpret the Constitution?
Federalist Papers, No. 78
Selections from Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Brutus, “The Problem of Judicial Review” (1788)
Thomas Jefferson, “On Judicial Power”
Andrew Jackson, “Veto of the Bank Bill” (1832)
Abraham Lincoln, selections

Session I: How should the Constitution be interpreted?
William Brennan, “The Constitution of the United States: Contemporary Ratification”
Antonin Scalia, “Originalism: The Lesser Evil”
Selections from Roper v. Simmons (2005)

Session II: The Executive
Federalist Papers, No. 70
John Locke, “On Prerogative Power,” from Second Treatise (1689)
Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Colvin (1810)
Abraham Lincoln, “Letter to Albert Hodges,” (1864)

Session III: The Legislature
Federalist Papers, No. 52, 53, 55, 62, 63
George Norris, “The Model Legislature” (1934)

Session IV: Federalism
The Federalist Papers, No. 39, 46
Constitutional Convention of 1787, excerpts
Hamilton in the New York Ratifying Convention (1788)
James Madison to N. P. Trist (1830)
Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions (1798)

Session I: The American Founders on Religion
Patrick Henry, “A Bill Establishing a Provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion”
James Madison, “Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments”
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17
Thomas Jefferson, A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom

Session II: Religion, Democracy, and the First Amendment
Thomas Jefferson, “Letter to Danbury Baptist’s Association”
George Washington, “Letter to Touro Synagogue”
George Washington, “Letter to Quakers”
George Washington, “Thanksgiving Day Proclamation
Lee v. Weisman (1992)
Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972)

Session III:  Slavery and the American Founding
Slavery provisions in the Constitution: Art. 1, Sec. 2, Clause 3; Art.1, Sec. 9, Clause 1; Art. 4, Sec. 2, Clause 3
William Lloyd Garrison, “On the Constitution and the Union”
Frederick Douglass, “The Constitution of the US: Pro-Slavery or Anti-Slavery?” (1860)

Session IV: Slavery, Abolition, and the U.S. Constitution
John C. Calhoun, “Speech on the Oregon Bill” (1848)
Alexander Stephens, “Cornerstone Speech” (1861)
Stephen Douglas, selections from Lincoln-Douglas debates (1858)

Session I: Crisis of the House Divided
Abraham Lincoln, “Speech on the Repeal of the Missouri Compromise” (1854)
Abraham Lincoln, “Speech at Chicago” (1858)
Abraham Lincoln, selections from Lincoln-Douglas debates (1858)
Abraham Lincoln, “Gettysburg Address” (1863)
Abraham Lincoln, “Second Inaugural Address” (1865)

Session II: Civil Rights Movement
Martin Luther King, Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”
Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have a Dream”
Malcolm X, “The Ballot or the Bullet

Session III: Progressivism
Theodore Roosevelt, “New Nationalism” (1912)
Woodrow Wilson, “What is Progress?” (1912)

Session IV: Liberalism
John Dewey, “The Future of Liberalism” (1935)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “Second Bill of Rights” (1944)

Dinner for participants – 6:00 PM


Session I: Conservatism
James Ceaser, “Four Heads and One Heart” (2010)
Milton Friedman, selections from Capitalism and Freedom (1962)
Irving Kristol, “Human Nature and Social Reform” (1978) and “What Is a Neoconservative?” (1984)

Session II: Pedagogical Applications
Former seminar participants will lead this session, offering concrete suggestions for integrating seminar content into the curriculum



Sponsored by the Jack Miller Center’s Virginia Founding Civics Initiative