Before a student finishes his high school years, there are several documents we hope he will have become familiar with. Those primary source documents would include, but not be limited to, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of the United States.
If we wish him to be proficient in understanding history, he will have encountered the Federalist Papers, the Manifest Destiny, and the Brown v. Board of Education decision.
If we really want him to be educated, he’ll have read Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and perhaps heard Roosevelt’s “A Day That Will Live in Infamy” speech, or Kennedy’s “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You” speech.
And of course, we would like him to be familiar with the thoughts and emotions of the times captured in the poetry and verse that we carry with us.
You will find all of these elements in The Patriot’s Handbook edited by George Grant.
Now in its second edition, The Patriot’s Handbook, subtitled, A Citizenship Primer for a New Generation of Americans, covers history chronologically through over one hundred primary source documents, speeches, landmark decisions, and verses beginning with Columbus and ending with President George Bush’s September 11 speech.
You’ll ride with Paul Revere, feel the cold of Valley Forge, understand the scene that was captured in the “Star Spangled Banner,” read the Emancipation Proclamation, consider the League of Nations, and review the amendments to the Constitution.
Each selection begins with a brief introduction. This is a valuable resource that can be included in a history or civics study.
- Prepare a written narration of each document, poem or speech. Include the title, context, and a description of what the item means.
- Speeches are meant to be heard and not read. We have the advantage here of doing both. Listen to the speeches after reading them.
American Historical Documents
A free public domain work full of primary source documents from 1000-1904.
You’ll find the audio and transcript of most speeches here. If you have trouble locating the speech you are looking for, try the Top 100 Speeches link.