Civic Classics Collection

Virtual Guide

The Center for American Civics has begun to build a Civic Classics Collection of rare books and manuscripts in collaboration with ASU’s Hayden Library.

This collection is intended to support the school’s mission of civic education through its use in classroom environments and public programming. You can find our rare books housed in the Wurzberger Reading Room and can be checked out by appointment.

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The Federalist

The Federalist was written in order to convince New Yorkers and Americans generally that they should ratify, or give formal consent to, the Constitution, making it officially valid. Many feared that the proposed Constitution created too strong of a central government.

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Stride Toward Freedom

Stride Toward Freedom is the Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King, Jr.’s firsthand account of the Montgomery Bus Protest in which he played a leading role. It amply demonstrates both key elements of King’s social and religious thought and also his skill with organization, administration, and rhetoric. 

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George Washington’s Farewell Address

George Washington’s Farewell Address is one of the most important statements in American history. It was prepared by Washington over a period of years, with advice from James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay and released near the end of his second term as President in September 1796, commemorating the close of the Constitutional Convention in September 1787.

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Wealth of Nations

Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations is a foundational treatise in economic thought, but one that is as much philosophical in character as it is economic. It extolls the benefits of the division of labor, competition, and trade. It famously argues that, where markets are competitive, an individual pursuing his or her own self-interest is led by “an invisible hand” to advance the public interest.

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Sal Si Puedes 

Sal Si Puedes is an account of the work of the great American social reformer Cesar Chavez. Chavez is best remembered for his work on behalf of migrant farmworkers. The book was written by Peter Matthiessen, an acclaimed American author, who won the National Book Award in 1978 for his book The Snow Leopard.

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Seneca Falls

The Seneca Falls Declaration or Declaration of Sentiments is one of the most important statements on behalf of women’s rights in American history. In its substance, there are striking, deliberate resemblances between the Seneca Falls Declaration and the Declaration of Independence. 

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Old Indian Legends

Old Indian Legends is a collection of Sioux short stories not written but “retold” by Zitkala-Sa, also known as Gertrude Bonnin, an American Indian woman best known for her political activism and her writing. Her name means “Red Bird” in Lakota.

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The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is an autobiographical publication prepared by one of the most important American abolitionists of the nineteenth century. As the Narrative explains, Douglass was born into slavery but escaped in 1838. He became a key figure in the abolitionist movement as an orator and newspaper publisher. 

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The History of Women's Suffrage

The History of Woman Suffrage is an account of the efforts of members of the women’s rights movement in America to acquire for women the right to vote. The History as a whole is composed of six volumes of work; our collection includes the fourth volume.

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Gettysburg Address

The Gettysburg Address was a speech delivered by then-President Abraham Lincoln at the dedication of the Cemetery at Gettysburg in 1863. Gettysburg had been the site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Although exceedingly brief, the Gettysburg Address is remembered as one of America’s greatest political speeches. 

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The full Civic Classics Collection Library

The American Founding

The Federalist (1788)
The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, written in Favour of the New Constitution, as Agreed Upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787. First Edition. In Two Volumes. New York: J. and A. M’Lean, 1788. With Michael Zinman bookplate. SPEC E-8571.

Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia (1788)
Notes on the State of Virginia, written by Thomas Jefferson. London: John Stockdale, 1787.

George Washington’s First Inaugural Address (1789)
“Inaugural Address of His Excellency the President [Washington] of the United States, to Congress, April 30, 1789". In The American Museum for May, 1789.

George Washington’s Farewell Address (1796)
President's Declination to the People of the United States Delivered by George Washington, September 17, 1796." In the Independent Chronicle: Universal Advertiser. Boston, Massachusetts. Volume 28, Number 1620, Monday, September 26, 1796.

Address of President Washington on His Resignation to the People of the United States. In The London Times, Wednesday, November 9, 1796, Number 3735. Includes the first 26 paragraphs of this speech.

Alexander Hamilton’s Reynolds Pamphlet (1797)
The Reynolds Pamphlet, or Observations of Certain Documents Contained in No. V & VI of 'The History of the the United States for the Year 1796," in Which the Charge of Speculation against Alexander Hamilton, Late Secretary of the Treasury Is Fully Refuted, Written by Himself. Philadelphia, Printed for John Fenno, by John Bioren, 1797.

James Thomson Callender’s Sketches of the History of America (1798)
Sketches of the History of America, by James Thomson Callender. Entered According to Law. Philadelphia: Snowden & McCorkle, 1798.

Facts and Documents Relative to the Death of Hamilton (1804)
A Collection of the Facts and Documents Relative to the Death of Major General Alexander Hamilton with Comments: Together with the Various Orations, Sermons, and Eulogies, That Have Been Published or Written on His Life and Character. New York: Hopkins and Seymour, 1804.

Daniel Webster’s Discourse in Commemoration of Adams and Jefferson (1826)
Discourse in Commemoration of the Lives and Services of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, Delivered in Faneuil Hall, Boston, August 2, 1826, by Daniel Webster. Boston: Cummings, Hilliard and Company, 1826.

Political Economy

Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (1776)
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith. First Edition. Two Volumes. London: Printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell, 1776. With signature of "H. D. Boswell".

John Stuart Mill’s Principles of Political Economy (1848)
Principles of Political Economy with Some of Their Applications to Social Philosophy, by John Stuart Mill. First Edition. Two Volumes. London: John W. Parker, 1848.

Race and America

Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845)
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, written by Himself. First Edition. Boston: Anti-Slavery Office, 1845.

F.H. Green’s The Slave-Wife and Frederick Douglass’s Speech in Belfast, Ireland (1846)
The Slave-Wife, by F.H. Green, Also, Speech of Frederick Douglass (A Fugitive Slave from Maryland), in Belfast, Ireland, on the Presentation of a Beautiful Copy of the Holy Bible, by the Citizens of that Place. First Edition. Cortlandville: Stedman & Goodwin, 1846.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)
Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly, by Harriet Beecher Stowe. 2 Volume. Boston: John P. Jewett & Company, 1852. Includes: a handwritten sheet with a paragraph from page 197, Volume 2, starting with "No! no! no!" in Harriet Beecher Stowe's handwriting.

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates (1860)
Political Debates Between Hon. Abraham Lincoln and Hon. Stephen A. Douglass, In the Celebrated Campaign of 1858, in Illinois. First Edition. Columbus: Follett, Foster and Company, 1860.

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (1864)
Address Delivered at the Dedication of the Cemetery at Gettysburg by Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863, in Lincoln's handwriting. In Autograph Leaves of Our Country's Authors. First Edition. Baltimore: Cushings and Bailey, 1864.

Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address (1866)
President Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865. In The Tribune Almanac and Political Register, 1866. New York: The Tribune Association.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Stride toward Freedom (1958)
Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. by Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1958. With an inscription from "Martin Luther King Jr." to Ronald Roberts, undated, on front flyleaf.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Strength to Love (1963)
Strength to Love, by Martin Luther King, Jr. First Edition. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1963. With an inscription from "Martin" "To my friend Rachel Ward", undated, on front flyleaf.

Civil Rights History and Activism

Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Seneca Falls Declaration (1848)
"Selections from the Woman's Rights Convention and the Declaration of Sentiments Adopted at the Seneca Falls Convention." In The North Star, Editors: Fredrick Douglass and M.R. Delany. Volume 1, Number 33. Friday, August 11, 1848, Rochester, New York.

Susan B. Anthony and Ida Husted Harper’s History of Woman Suffrage (1902)
The History of Woman Suffrage, edited by Susan B. Anthony & Ida Husted Harper. Volume IV, 1883-1900. Rochester, NY: Susan B. Anthony, 1902. With handwritten inscription from Susan B. Anthony to Miss Mariana T. Folsom, June 1, 1903.

Peter Matthiessen’s Sal Si Puedes (1969)
Sal Si Puedes: Cesar Chavez and the New American Revolution, by Peter Matthiessen. New York: Random House, 1969. Includes: a typed letter signed by Cesar E. Chavez, President, United Farm Workers of America AFL-CIO to Mr. Russell Gibbons, U.S.W.A., February 9, 1974.

First Peoples

Zitkala-Sa’s Old Indian Legends (1901)
Old Indian Legends, retold by Zitkala-Sa. First Edition. Boston: Ginn & Company, 1901.

Chief Joseph’s Own Story (1925)
Chief Joseph's Own Story, by Joseph (Nez Percé Chief). [St. Paul, 1925.]