From the Foreword:
The U.S. Constitution: A Reader is made up of original source documents that bear upon the founding of the American republic, the making of its Constitution, and the struggle to preserve that document and govern under it to the current day.
The Reader is used in the Hillsdale College core course on the Constitution required of every student. About one-half of Hillsdale's curriculum is to be found in its core, which is organized to present the basic and necessary elements of a liberal arts education-an education oriented to the ultimate purposes in human life, the goods at which all activity is properly aimed.
The Hillsdale College Articles of Association state the reasons why the College takes this approach. The Articles promise a kind of learning that is "sound." This learning is said to "develop the minds" and "improve the hearts" of the students; in other words, it teaches the intellectual and the moral virtues. The ultimate effect of this kind of learning on the society is to perpetuate the "inestimable blessings" of "civil and religious liberty" and "intelligent piety."
Civil and religious liberty are political goods. The classic works that have always been taught here at Hillsdale College say that the nature of man is essentially political, that our gift of speech, a synonym for reason, makes us more social and moral than any beings on earth, and in the combination of these is our political nature. For this reason, politics has always been essential to the liberal arts curriculum.
The political goods of "civil and religious liberty" were first achieved here in the United States of America, the nation to which Hillsdale College has always been loyal. Its oldest building was dedicated on the Fourth of July in 1853, when the second president of the College, later one of the founders of the Republican Party, gave a speech on the relation of freedom and education. Its sons and daughters have fought in honorable numbers in all our nations' wars since the founding of the College. In the Civil War, some 400 young Hillsdale men fought for the Union, the highest percentage of any non-military school in the North. Since the founding of the College, it has played a part in the great movements to defend the Constitution from the many threats it has faced.
These actions, which form a noble part of the history of the College, do not stem from any agitation on the campus except that of teaching the Constitution as part of the core curriculum. To study the place of man in nature, and to study the meaning of the greatest of modern nations, is to place oneself in the middle of a series of great arguments carried on among exceptional people who often differ. This activity has always resulted in a thoughtful-and sometimes in a fierce-patriotism here at Hillsdale. When arguments arise about the meaning of our country, we can relate them to the great arguments that have already taken place in its history. We do not come to contemporary debates unarmed. This, said several of the Founders of our nation, is necessary to the training of statesmen and to the preservation of our republic in freedom and justice.
LARRY P. ARNN