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Leadership for America

First Principles

Rediscovering our principles in order to reclaim our future.

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Statement of Purpose

The future of liberty depends on reclaiming America's first principles. "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization," as Thomas Jefferson warned, "it expects what never was and never will be." Widespread ignorance of American history is but the most recognized symptom of the troubling decline in popular knowledge of fundamental principles. We face an education system that upholds mediocrity in the name of relativism; an ever-expanding and centralized government, unmoored from constitutional limits; judges openly making laws and shaping society based on pop-philosophy rather than serious jurisprudence; and growing confusion over America's legitimate role in the world, made all the more apparent by the fundamental threat posed by radical Islamists. At the root of all these problems is a pervasive doubt about the core principles that define America and ought to inform our politics and policy.


  1. 1.To reorient American politics toward the First Principles of the American Founding.

  2. 2.To reshape public policy to reflect our constitutional framework of limited government.

  3. 3.To unify and revive a robust conservatism around, and in defense of, these core principles.

  4. 4.To provide the next generation with a strong foundation for learning and promoting our nation's founding principles.

Experts From This Initiative

  • David Azerrad, Ph.D. David Azerrad, Ph.D.

    David Azerrad devotes his time and research at The Heritage Foundation to increasing public understanding of America’s founding principles. ...

  • Lee Edwards, Ph.D. Lee Edwards, Ph.D.

    Lee Edwards, distinguished fellow in conservative thought at The Heritage Foundation, is a leading historian of American conservatism and th...

  • Edwin Meese III Edwin Meese III

    Edwin Meese III, the prominent conservative leader, thinker and elder statesman, continues a quarter-century formal association with The Her...

  • Arthur Milikh Arthur Milikh

    Arthur Milikh conducts research on America’s founding principles. As associate director of The Heritage Foundation’s B. Kenneth Simon Center...

  • Scott E. Yenor, Ph.D.

Academic Advisors