The Washington, Jefferson & Madison Institute offers public and private secondary teachers a program of ten core courses to earn Virginia DOE annual recertification points for re-licensure and a certificate of completion as a “WJMI Fellow” in the study of the “American Founding Principles and Documents.” Each course consists of four 50-minute lectures or presentations by distinguished scholars and authors with discussions and Q&A. Through this series of intensive seminars on America’s Founding Documents and the lives and writings of the Founding Fathers, teachers will examine founding principles and original source documents for use in the classroom. WJMI Seminars are offered semi-annually in September and February at Prospect Hill near Charlottesville.
Jefferson & Madison’s Guide to the Constitution
Explore the original curriculum for the teaching of the Constitution at the University of Virginia as set forth by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and the Board of Visitors on March 4, 1825. Key documents that will be studies are Locke’s Second Treatise on Government, Sidney’s Discourses Concerning Government, the Declaration of Independence, Federalist Nos. 1, 10, 39, 51, 78 and 84, and Washington’s Farewell Address.
Explore the character and statesmanship of George Washington through his religious beliefs and political philosophy and his life as the Commander of the Continental Army, the Constitutional Convention, first President of the United States, and his Farewell Address. Key documents that will be studied are the Rules of Civility, the Nicola Letter, the Circular Letter to the States, the Speech at Newburgh, the Retirement Speech to Congress, the First Inaugural, the First Thanksgiving Message, and the Farewell Address.
Explore the statesmanship and writings of founder James Madison through his struggle for religious liberty, the Constitutional Convention, the ratification of the Constitution, the creation of the Bill of Rights, and the party struggle of the 1790s. Key documents that will be studied include the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the Memorial & Remonstrance, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Madison’s Notes to the Constitutional Convention, excerpts from the Federalist, Madison June 8, 1789 speech, the Bill of Rights, and the essay “On Property.”
Explore the work of Thomas Jefferson for religious and civil liberty and republican self-government through the making of the Declaration of Independence, his diplomatic mission to France, his thoughts on the Constitution, the party struggle of the 1790s, his presidency, and his founding of the University of Virginia. Key documents that will be studied are the Summary View of the Rights of British America, the draft and final copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, exchange of letters with James Madison about the Constitution, his opposition to the Bank of the US, the Kentucky Resolutions, the First Inaugural Address, and his exchange of letters with John Adams.
Explore the life and constitutionalism of Alexander Hamilton through his arguments for a stronger central government during his Revolutionary War writings, the Constitutional Convention, the Ratification of the Constitution, and as the Secretary of the Treasury during the Washington administration. Key documents that will be studied are the Farmer Refuted pamphlet, the June 18 speech at the Constitutional Convention, excerpts from the Federalist, the Report on Public Credit, the Opinion on the Constitutionality of the Bank of the US, and the Pacificus-Helvidius Debate.
Explore the life and statesmanship of John Adams through his political philosophy, marriage to Abigail Adams, battles for American independence, his constitutional work in Massachusetts, his diplomacy in Europe, and his vice-presidency and presidency. Key documents that will be studied are the letters with Abigail Adams, his Dissertation on Feudal and Canon Law, Novanglus Essay, Thoughts on Government, the Massachusetts Constitution, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States, the First Inaugural Address, the Alien and Sedition Acts, and his exchange of letters with Thomas Jefferson.
Explore the life and statesmanship of Benjamin Franklin through his Autobiography, his 13 Virtues, his diplomacy in Europe, the alliance with France, and the Peace Treaty, and his role in the Constitutional Convention. Key documents that will be studied are his Autobiography, Poor Richard’s Almanac, Article in the Federal Gazette on the “Structure of Government,” Speeches at the Constitutional Convention, and the Petition for the Abolition of Slavery.
Religion & the Founding of the American Republic
Explore the role of religion on the colonists and the War for Independence, its influence on the American Founding, the religious beliefs of the Founders, the effects of the Enlightenment, and the relationship between religion and a virtuous Republic. Key documents to be studied are the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Declaration of Rights, Proclamations of Thanksgiving and Fasting, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance, the First Amendment to the Constitution, and George Washington’s Letters to the Congregations.
The Constitution and its Ratification
Explore the events leading to the Constitutional Convention, the philosophical sources of principles of the Constitution, the debates in the Constitutional Convention, and the debates and process of ratification. Key documents to be studied include the Articles of Confederation, selections from Locke, Sidney, and Montesquieu, Madison’s Notes of the Debates in the Constitutional Convention, and excerpts from Anti-Federalist writings and the Federalist Papers.
The Bill of Rights
Explore the Colonial origins of American liberties, the state constitutions, the debate over a Bill of Rights during the Constitutional Convention and ratification, the correspondence between Jefferson and Madison, and the significance and meaning of the First Amendment. Key Documents to be studied are A Summary View of the Rights of British America, The Farmer Refuted, the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the Bill of Rights, and James Madison’s June 8, 1789 Speech in the House of Representatives.