The Founding of the American Republic is on trial. Critics say it was a poison pill with a time-release formula; we are its victims. Its principles are responsible for the country's moral and social disintegration because they were based on the Enlightenment falsehood of radical individual autonomy.
In this well-researched book, Robert Reilly declares: not guilty. To prove his case, he traces the lineage of the ideas that made the United States, and its ordered liberty, possible. These concepts were extraordinary when they first burst upon the ancient world: the Judaic oneness of God, who creates ex nihilo and imprints his image on man; the Greek rational order of the world based upon the Reason behind it; and the Christian arrival of that Reason (Logos) incarnate in Christ. These may seem a long way from the American Founding, but Reilly argues that they are, in fact, its bedrock. Combined, they mandated the exercise of both freedom and reason.
These concepts were further developed by thinkers in the Middle Ages, who formulated the basic principles of constitutional rule. Why were they later rejected by those claiming the right to absolute rule, then reclaimed by the American Founders, only to be rejected again today? Reilly reveals the underlying drama: the conflict of might makes right versus right makes might. America's decline, he claims, is not to be discovered in the Founding principles, but in their disavowal.
This expanded edition of America on Trial includes a new chapter on the American founding and slavery.
"Reilly digs down very deep into the past, down before America, down before Christ, down before philosophy, down to the revelation of the Hebrew God. . . . He is the ultimate source of the transcendent law available to human reason, the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God". Under these laws, America was formed."
— Larry P. Arnn, Ph.D., President, Hillsdale College; from the Foreword
"It would be hard to imagine a more robust or comprehensive account, as well as defense, of the deep roots of the American Founding than Robert Reilly provides in this relatively compact treatment. In the current debates among Catholics and others about the presence—or absence—of natural law in the constitution of American liberty and rights, his strong, steady voice warrants particular attention."
— Robert Royal, Ph.D., President, Faith & Reason Institute; Author, A Deeper Vision
"It's become fashionable in Christian or Catholic intellectual circles to condemn the American Founding as just so much bad Enlightenment philosophy. Many young people now think our current cultural maladies are simply fruits from the original poisoned tree. Robert Reilly shows convincingly that these charges are misguided."
— Jay Richards, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute; Author, Money, Greed and God
"This book is a defense of the principles of natural law, morality, and natural religion—i.e., reason and faith—as the foundation of American policy from the beginning and a historical 'big picture' of their classical, medieval, and modern origins. The argument is unanswerable, the documentation massive, and the issue prophetic in import."
— Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Boston College; Author, Doors in the Walls of the World
"Reminiscent of Russell Kirk, Robert Reilly defends the American Founding by making clear that the intellectually broad and historically deep arguments of the Founders cannot be reduced to those of John Locke. Even more, he makes a formidable case that the Founders, in their use of Locke, did not understand him as a sweet bearer of Hobbesian thought, but in fact, forthrightly rejected the arguments of Thomas Hobbes. Reilly's book is essential reading about America's real roots."
— Benjamin Wiker, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, Franciscan University; Author, Worshiping the State
"Reilly takes on the foolish notion that the United States was badly—perhaps irreparably—founded because of the Enlightenment. He demonstrates that the roots of our country are grounded deeply not in Modernist heresies but in Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome. Our current decay was not inevitable, as some say, and it can be reversed by paying close attention and embracing where we really came from."
— Austin Ruse, President, Center for Family & Human Rights