Keeping the Republic
The short but compelling answer Benjamin Franklin gave when, at the end of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, he was asked what form of government the framers had adopted is the same challenge faced by every generation since: ours is “…a Republic, if you can keep it.”
On September 17, 2012 our Nation celebrated the 225th anniversary of the Constitution. The Constitution unites us to “form a more perfect Union” and to “secure the blessings of liberty” for ourselves and our posterity. The truth is: liberty is hard work, and it’s our work right now!
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
— Preamble, United States Constitution, 1787
“...a primary object of such institution should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important, and what duty more pressing on its legislature, than to patronize a plan for communicating it to those, who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?”
— President George Washington, 1796
George Washington said that American liberty and self-government was an “experiment” in the hands of the American people. Here in this unique classroom laboratory, that experiment is tested anew every day. In just thirteen years the American Village has demonstrated to the Nation new ways to connect young people with the stories of America. Here, students “step into the scenes” of American history and become first-hand participants – declaring independence, winning the Revolution, writing the Constitution, and building a great Nation. They discover that history is not a dull set of facts, but rather the stories of real people, who faced choices, and took risks and made sacrifices for liberty.
The American Village is helping keep the Republic by preparing young people for one of the most important jobs they will ever have: citizens in our great country. These young people will lead and serve America and you are helping inspire them to do their best.
The American Village needs your help to keep the Republic.
- Make a donation
- Visit our unique educational campus and bring a young person or youth group
- Support our teachers, and spread the word that the teaching of American history and civics is vital
- Share our message with others
- Take our online pledge to Keep the Republic
Citizens, leaders, and stewards: all are called to keep the Republic.
On Monday, September 17 — the 225th birthday of the Constitution — the American Village convened a National Summit on Keeping the Republic to kick off a year of conversation around the country with citizens and leaders addressing the questions: Just how well are “we the people” doing in “keeping” the Republic? And what should we be doing to better serve our Nation as citizens and leaders?
Mrs. Laura Bush served as National Honorary Chair of the Summit and keynoted the event by video. She challenged all Americans to be “keepers of the Republic” and said:
The Constitution we celebrate unites us to “form a more perfect Union” and to “secure the blessings of liberty” for ourselves and our posterity. The truth is: liberty is hard work, and it’s our work right now.
Mary Bomar, former Director of the U. S. National Park Service and American Village National Advisor; and American biographer Richard Brookhiser were also featured speakers.
American Village founder and CEO Tom Walker addressed the audience on “Reclaiming American Memory and Identity.” He said:
When the Constitutional Convention ended 225 years ago Benjamin Franklin wisely said that ours is ‘…a Republic, if you can keep it.’ George Washington called our system of liberty and self-government an ‘experiment in the hands of the American people.’ Each generation has faced the challenge to keep the Republic and to make the experiment work.
For three decades a number of serious and credible alarms have sounded: America is facing a growing national amnesia. As an example, the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (2010) shows that 55% of America’s high school seniors do not have even a ‘basic’ knowledge of American history.
Our choice whether to address this challenge or to ignore it will have extraordinary consequences for our country. The duty that calls us, in this hour, on our watch, is to reclaim American memory and identity and answer Franklin’s challenge to be keepers of the Republic.
The American Village has released a 56-page report summarizing the challenge to keep the Republic and making recommendations on how to strengthen teaching American history and civics to young people.
Videos of the National Summit on Keeping the Republic are available here.