American Ideals: Founding a "Republic of Virtue"
Dr. Daniel N. Robinson (1937–2018) was a member of the philosophy faculty at Oxford University, where he lectured annually since 1991. He was also Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, at Georgetown University, on whose faculty he served for 30 years. He was formerly Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, and he also held positions at Amherst College and at Princeton University.
Professor Robinson earned his PhD in Neuropsychology from City University of New York. He was president of two divisions of the American Psychological Association: the Division of History of Psychology, from which he received the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Division of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, from which he received the Distinguished Contribution Award.
Professor Robinson was the author or editor of more than 40 books, including Wild Beasts & Idle Humours: The Insanity Defense from Antiquity to the Present, An Intellectual History of Psychology, The Mind: An Oxford Reader, and Aristotle's Psychology. He was the editor of the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology. He also published widely on the constitutional history of the US and its philosophical foundations, with original research appearing in the International Journal of Constitutional Law and The American Journal of Jurisprudence. He was coeditor of The American Founding: Its Intellectual and Moral Framework (London: Continuum, 2012).
01: The Colonists as Faithful Subjects
In pamphlets and pulpits of the colonies, one is reminded of the close, even familial ties extending across an ocean, strengthened by customs and values shaped over centuries.
02: Colonial Constitutions and Their Inspiration
Trade between colonies and with Great Britain and other nations called for orderly procedures, as did governance of growing communities and steady influx of immigrants.
03: Who "Founded" the United States?
As colonial constitutions were fashioned, the context within which deliberations and strategies were conducted was that of the Enlightenment. The United States was "founded" as much by ideas as by men.
04: Taxation Without Representation
The colonies had returned to the crown, over a period of years, revenues exceeding what was expected. What, then, was all the fuss about the Stamp Act, and why were 10 tons of Darjeeling sent to the bottom of Boston Harbor?
05: The Declaration of Independence
This document is the first of its kind: one that announces the creation of a new nation and the need to provide reasons for this precipitous measure. It is a veritable "text" on the manner in which political issues are to be understood.
06: The Royalist View of the Revolution
In the colonies and Great Britain, the American Revolution was cast as a rebellion against the rule of law. This sheds light on colonial debates on political authority.
07: The Articles of Confederation
The "articles" were the product of danger and emergency; principles for joint action among the colonies for the express purpose of waging a war of independence.
08: The Constitution of the United States, Part 1
In the brutally hot Philadelphia months, a diverse and argumentative assembly met for unclear purposes.
09: The Constitution of the United States, Part 2
The "miracle" in Philadelphia was a great achievement of mind and will, accomplished through debate, the counsel of the wise, and the discipline of enlightened self interest.
The 85 Federalist Papers by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay comprise detailed and analytical arguments for and against governance as envisaged by the Constitution.
11: With Liberty and Justice For All
Once set forth, the Bill of Rights simply underscored the evil of slavery. How did the founders understand this?
12: Paine and Burke
How Tom Paine and Edmund Burke saw the French and American Revolutions clarifies tensions and unique potentialities embedded in the new nation's ideals and institutions.