America on Trial

A Defense of the Founding

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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.

BONUS Chapter Download: “Is Slavery the Founding’s Fault?” Robert Reilly examines the claim of the 1619 Project and others that racism “runs in the very DNA of this country”. To download this special chapter, not in the print book, Click here.


Robert Reilly

Robert R. Reilly is Director of the Westminster Institute. In his twenty-five years of government service, he served as Special Assistant to the President and as Director of the Voice of America, and he was also Senior Advisor for Information Strategy to the Secretary of Defense, and taught at National Defense University. He attended Georgetown University and the Claremont Graduate University, and he has published widely on American politics and morals, foreign policy, and classical music. His other books include Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing EverythingSurprised by Beauty: A Listener's Guide to the Recovery of Modern Music, and The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis.


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by Charlie Schmidt
on 8/27/2020
“In God We Trust” is the essence of wisdom
The main point of Robert R Reilly’s excellent book America on Trial is that America was founded on principles that were right, and being a righteous nation was a source of might since moral authority is powerful.  The past few decades have seen America having policies that were once considered immoral being forced on the country by judicial fiat.  So the question this book discusses is “Does might make right?” or “Does right make might?”

The founding fathers based the Constitution of the United States on what they believed were eternal principles of truth and morality derived from reason, natural law and Judeo-Christian morality.  Natural law is defined by Webster’s New World College dictionary as “rules of conduct supposedly inherent in relations between human beings and discoverable by reason; law based upon man’s innate moral sense.”  

Since the morality and principles of America’s founders were true, good and reasonable and promoted spiritual health,  so "Right makes might."
by Ed
on 8/4/2020
from Florida
On the hardcover version, page 314, it states Charles Carroll was a "signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution." Surely his signature was affixed to the Declaration but not the Constitution. The Constitution was signed by Daniel Carroll. 
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"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

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