Hamilton Center


On January 24, 1783, as the Revolutionary War wound down and the United States prepared for full independence, a congressionally appointed committee led by James Madison recommended “a list of books proper for the use of Congress” in conducting constitutional government. The list included core texts on ethics, political and legal thought, law, religion, and European and American history. The list ranged from ancient authors such as Plato and Aristotle to contemporary writers like Cesare Beccaria and Emer de Vattel.

It included “conservative” thinkers like Edmund Burke and “radical” thinkers like Voltaire and David Hume. The legal texts on the list ranged from the Institutes of Justinian to Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England. In short, Madison’s congressional book list contained a fair cross-section of the thought and history of Western civilization. In asking Madison’s committee to compile this list, Congress implied that leadership in a constitutional democracy depends not merely on the raw ability to obtain and use power, but on a deep knowledge of the Western intellectual tradition. 

Core Mission

The Hamilton Center’s core mission is to help students develop the knowledge, habits of thought, analytical skills, and character to be citizens and leaders in a free society. We will accomplish this mission in three ways:  

  • By developing an integrated, multidisciplinary undergraduate curriculum focusing on the Western intellectual tradition and the ideals of the American founding. This curriculum will educate students in the core texts and great debates of Western civilization and in the principles, ideals and institutions of the American political order.  
  • By providing public programming to model the value of civil discourse through debates, symposia and lectures. This program will highlight the value of debate and disagreement based on a core commitment to the search for truth and will resist the current push to “deplatform,” “cancel,” or professionally destroy those with whom we may disagree.  
  • By assisting the Florida Department of Education in its implementation of Florida’s K-12 civics curriculum.  

The American Founding and the American Political Order

The American Founding and the American Political Order

Adam Smith (Oxford) & Patrick Griffin (Notre Dame)

Thursday, 9 February 

4:00 PM / Judaica Suite (Library East)

Co-sponsored event with College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Co-sponsored event with College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Screening of Unguarded followed by a panel discussion. Includes Shon Hopwood (Georgetown)

Monday, 27 February

5:30 PM / The Hippodrome 

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How Should We Interpret the Constitution? 

How Should We Interpret the Constitution? 

Randy Barnett (Georgetown) & Mitchell Berman (Penn)

Tuesday, 7 March

4:00 PM / Library East Room 100

Upcoming Events