New Idea of America text book
This book is the primary resource for the seminars.

"Our Values" section defines the values that shaped our nation and are critical in defining our future.

"Our Legacy" section tells the story of how those values have been expanded in our history to be far more inclusive of all Americans than was true at our founding, particularly to minorities and women.

"Our Future" section discusses how our values and our legacy are shaping the direction of our nation regarding our economy, education and immigration--three of the greatest challenges we currently face as a nation. These three challenges are treated as "case studies" in the book.

The book is available through Colonial Williamsburg. WILSON25  is the 25%    promotion code, use that when you order.  To order click here Book Order

Note: You can define your own case study such as the environment, role of government, social justice or local community issue where the value model and legacy approach is appropriate to establishing the basis for debate and discussion. Any new case study must be non-partisan and non-sectarian     preserve the open and respectful debate and discussion goals of the seminar program. Also new proposed case studies must be described and registered with the director of Idea of America Network (Dr. John Oliver Wilson).

Study Guide for Idea of America seminarThe "Study Guide" provides a suggested program for six seminar sessions, stating the topic and suggested assigned reading. Participants should be encouraged to read the assigned material in order to facilitate debate and discussion. As facilitator of your seminar, you can download the Study Guide and modify it as you desire such as adding additional material, covering different topics as case studies. You should download and print sufficient copies of the Study Guide for the participants in your seminar.


We recommend several secondary resources that directly relate to the subject matter of the Idea of America seminar.

first edition of Idea of America The Idea of America: How Values Shaped Our Republic and Hold the Key to Our Future. Authors: H. Michael Hartoonian, Richard D. VanScotter, William E. White (Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2013)

This is the initial book that launched the Idea of America Network. The premise of the book is that Americans embrace values that are often in tension. These tensions--law vs. ethics, freedom vs. equality, unity vs. diversity, common wealth vs. private wealth--are at the heart of a great debate that began with the Founders and continues today.

Wood's book
The Idea of America, Reflections on the Birth of the United States. Author: Gordon S. Wood
Order: www.amazon.com This is a collection of some of the most influential papers by a Pulitzer Prize winning historian. See especially his articles: Chapter Ten, "The American Enlightenment" and Chapter Eleven, "A History of Rights in Early America.

Horn's book
“Arguably, then, 1619 marks the inception of the most important political development in American history, the rise of democracy, and the emergence of what would in time become one of the nation’s greatest challenges, the corrosive legacy of racial stereotypes that continues to afflict our society today."

(James Horn, "1619, Jamestown and The Forging of American Democracy", 2018)

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