Featured Primary Sources

The Early Republic

Nothing can enrich and enliven our understanding of the nation’s past, or dispel apathy about it, more powerfully than primary sources. The primary sources below open up a variety of viewpoints and have been chosen by master teachers specifically for use in the classroom. Affiliate School members can print a packet that includes an image of the document, photograph, or other resource, a transcript where applicable, text to place the document in historical context, and document-based questions. In addition, you may want to search the Gilder Lehrman Collection itself for other resources to enrich your lessons.

George Washington, by Rembrandt Peale, ca. 1852 (GLC09119.01)

George Washington’s First Inaugural Address, 1789

Creator: George Washington Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics, Literature Grade Levels:
Hamilton’s Report . . . on the Subject of Manufactures, Dec. 5, 1791. (GLC00891)

Hamilton’s Report on the Subject of Manufactures, 1791

Creator: Alexander Hamilton Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
John Adams to George Churchman and Jacob Lindley, January 24, 1801. (Gilder Lehr

John Adams on the abolition of slavery, 1801

Creator: John Adams Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
GLC02437.05942

Reports on the yellow fever epidemic, 1793

Creator: an unknown correspondent Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Census results, New York State, ca. 1800. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Slavery in the New York State census, 1800

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Samuel Wood, Injured Humanity; Being A Representation of What the Unhappy Childr

The horrors of slavery, 1805

Creator: Samuel Wood Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Alexander Hamilton to Governor Thomas Mifflin, September 20, 1794. (GLC07920)

The Whiskey Rebellion, 1794

Creator: Alexander Hamilton Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
George Washington to Jonathan Trumbull Jr., July 21, 1799. (Gilder Lehrman Colle

Washington on a proposed third term and political parties, 1799

Creator: George Washington Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Primary Sources from Other Sub-Eras

A Map of the Louisiana Territory, 1814. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

A map of the Louisiana Territory, 1814

Creator: Meriwether Lewis Curriculum Subjects: Geography, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8
Aaron Burr to Joseph Alston, July 20, 1804 (GLC01523)

Aaron Burr, fugitive and traitor, 1804

Creator: Aaron Burr Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:

An African American soldier’s pay warrant, 1780

Creator: the State of Connecticut Curriculum Subjects: Economics Grade Levels:
Thomas Jefferson to James Maury Esq., June 16, 1815. (Gilder Lehrman Collect

Jefferson on British aggression, 1815

Creator: Thomas Jefferson Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Thomas Jefferson to Marquis de Lafayette, June 16, 1792. (GLC08063p2)

Jefferson on the French and Haitian Revolutions, 1792

Creator: Thomas Jefferson Curriculum Subjects: Geography, Government and Civics, World History Grade Levels:
John Adams to Benjamin Rush, November 11, 1807. (GLC00424)

John Adams describes George Washington’s ten talents, 1807

Creator: John Adams Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
US Constitution printed in Albany, New York, 1788. (GLC07866)

Ratification of the US Constitution in New York, 1788

Creator: George Washington and the Constitutional Convention Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Angelica Schuyler Church to Philip Schuyler, July 11, 1804. (Gilder Lehrman

The duel: Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, 1804

Creator: Angelica Schuyler Church Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
 President’s Annual Message to Congress, Washington Republican Extra, Dec. 2, 18

The Monroe Doctrine, 1823

Creator: James Monroe Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Geography, Government and Civics, World History Grade Levels:
Thomas Jefferson to David Howell, December 15, 1810. (GLC01027)

Thomas Jefferson’s opposition to the Federalists, 1810

Creator: Thomas Jefferson Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: