"Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge...it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened." - George Washington
It is incumbent upon all citizens to study and ponder the heritage of liberty. Thomas Jefferson said: "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." He also stated: "I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome direction, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." The diffusion of knowledge and an enlightened citizenry are essential elements required to maintain liberty. The Washington, Jefferson & Madison Institute is an educational, Virginia non-profit corporation based in Charlottesville, Virginia. The WJM Institute was founded to teach the principles of government and of liberty as established by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution.
"To instill within educators and students of the rising generation, a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, the Founding Fathers and the Founding Documents of the United States of America."
- Provide continuing education courses and seminars to educators focusing on public and private secondary school teachers.
- Instruct educators and students on America's founding principles using original source documents.
- Encourage the teaching of America's Founding Documents in our public schools.
The Institute teaches ten core Seminars on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the lives and writings of the Founders of the Republic using original source documents. See "Seminars".
The Constitutional instruction is based upon those texts and documents set forth at the University of Virginia in 1825 by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (among the Board of Visitors) for teaching the "principles of government" upon which the U. S. Constitution was "genuinely based": As to the "general principles of liberty and the rights of man, in nature and in society":
(a) John Locke's "Second Treatise on Government," and
(b) Algernon Sidney's "Discourses Concerning Government."
As to the "distinctive principles" of the government of the United States:
- The Declaration of Independence
- The Federalist Papers, and
- George Washington's Farewell Address