The independent existence of the United States was based on certain truths:
that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
On that foundation, the American Founders established a system of government based on delegated, enumerated, and thus limited powers.

The American Founders did not pluck those truths out of thin air, nor did they simply invent the principles of American government. They drew from their knowledge of thousands of years of human history, during which many peoples struggled for liberty and limited government. There were both defeats and victories along the way. The results were distilled in the founding documents of the American experiment in limited government: the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the state constitutions, and the Constitution of the United States.

More on The American Founders


Why the Anti-Tyranny Case for the 2nd Amendment Shouldn’t Be Dismissed So Quickly

By David B. Kopel. VOX Media. August 22, 2016.

‘1-Person-1-Vote’ Decision Relies on Misreading of Federalist Papers

By Ilya Shapiro and Thomas Berry. The National Law Journal. April 18, 2016.

Regaining Ground from Government

By Richard W. Rahn. Washington Times. February 16, 2016.

Cato Studies

Only Freedom of Education Can Solve America’s Bureaucratic Crisis of Education

By Jack D. Douglas. Policy Analysis No. 155. June 17, 1991.


The Powers Delegated to the Federal Government Are Few and Defined: The Doctrine of Enumerated Powers

Roger Pilon. Roots of Liberty: Unlocking the Federalist Papers. June 18, 2013.

Declaration of Independence, U.S.

Roger Pilon. International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences., 2nd Edition. 2007.

Madison’s Constitutional Vision: The Legacy of Enumerated Powers

Roger Pilon. James Madison and the Future of Limited Government. 2003.

Public Filings

Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum

By Ilya Shapiro. Legal Briefs. August 8, 2012.

The Impact of Executive Orders on the Legislative Process: Executive Lawmaking?

By William J. Olson. Testimony. October 27, 1999.

Cato Reviews & Journals

The Madisonian System: A Republic If We Can Keep It

Jonathan Turley. Cato's Letter. Winter 2016.

The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left by Yuval Levin

Jason Kuznicki. Cato Journal. Fall 2014.

The Fourth Revolution

John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. Policy Report. July/August 2014.


Conspiracies of the Ruling Class: How to Break Their Grip Forever

Featuring John Samples and Jeffrey Miron. May 6, 2016. Book Forum.

Roots of Liberty: Unlocking the Federalist Papers

Featuring Roger Pilon. August 27, 2014. Book Forum.

Terms of Engagement: How Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution’s Promise of Limited Government

Featuring Roger Pilon. October 8, 2013. Book Forum.