The Washington, Jefferson & Madison Institute is a non-profit Virginia corporation established in 2004. Listed on the Virginia Department of Education website, WJMI offers local seminars for secondary school teachers in Virginia. Classes qualify for recertification points and are taught by WJMI faculty, visiting college professors and guest lecturers. For upcoming seminars, see the "Calendar".


"The Character and Statesmanship of George Washington" Seminar co-sponsored by WJMI and the Center for American Studies at Christopher Newport University, Friday, February 21, 2014
Video of Presentations available online: http://cnu.edu/cas/past_events/washington%20seminar
David J. Bobb, "The Character of George Washington"
Jeffry H. Morrison, "George Washington and Religion"
Stephen F. Knott, "The Presidency of George Washington"
Tony Williams, "Washington's Farewell Address"


The Institute has sponsored continuing education seminars for Virginia secondary school teachers since 2007. Seminars have been held at historic Prospect Hill near Charlottesville, Virginia, and in 2014 others will be held at Christopher Newport University in partnership with their Center for American Studies. See: cnu.edu/cas. WJMI seminars are designed to meet the requirements for teacher recertification. Teachers come from county high schools (and middle schools) in the surrounding Charlottesville area, including: Albemarle, Augusta, Greene, Orange, Louisa, Fluvanna, and Nelson counties. Teachers from around Virginia including Richmond, Newport News, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach have also recently attended. Core WJMI seminars include the following topics:

  • Jefferson & Madison's Guide to the Constitution
  • Rediscovering George Washington: The Indispensable Man
  • James Madison: Father of the Constitution
  • Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
  • John Adams: Colossus of Independence
  • Benjamin Franklin: The Sage of Philadelphia
  • Religion and the Founding of the American Republic
  • The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution
  • Founding Principles of the Constitution
  • The Bill of Rights: Charter of Freedom
  • Alexander Hamilton & the Constitution


The following individuals have served as presenters at WJMI Seminars:

  • DR. STEVEN P. BROWN, Associate Professor and Chair of Political Science, Auburn University; Author of Trumping Religion: The New Christian Right, The Free Speech Clause and the Courts.
  • DR. STEPHEN F. KNOTT, Professor of National Security Affairs at the United States Naval War College; Co-chair, University of Virginia's Presidential Oral History Program and Director, Ronald Reagan Oral History Project; Author of Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth.
  •  DR. DAVID J. BOBB, President of the Bill of Rights Institute; former Director, Hillsdale College Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship; Lecturer in Politics; Author of Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America's Greatest Virtue.
  • DR. JEFFRY H. MORRISON, Associate Professor of Government at Regent University and a faculty member at the federal government's James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation in Washington, D.C.; Author of John Witherspoon and the Founding of the American Republic, and The Political Philosophy of George Washington.
  • TONY WILLIAMS, Program Director of the WJMI, and Author of four books, including America's Beginnings: The Dramatic Events that Shaped a Nation's Character.
  • J. DAVID GOWDY, Founder & President, WJMI; Author “Jefferson & Madison’s Guide to the Constitution”


WJMI also offers civic seminars on the U. S. Constitution and has previously presented for the following organizations: Charlottesville League of Women Voters, Albemarle-Charlottesville Republican Women's League, United Women's Forum, Sons of the American Revolution, Rotary Club, and other citizen groups.

Accolades from Teachers who have attended WJMI Seminars

"I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to the first seminar presented by the Washington, Jefferson, Madison Institute. Wow! Little did I realize how enriching the Institute's seminars would be ... The small informal setting of the seminars, along with the superior ancillary materials provided for us to use, are excellent. Each seminar I have attended has made me a stronger U.S. Government teacher, and has given me deeper insight into our founding fathers and their vision for our country. I would highly recommend the WJMI seminars. You will leave with a deeper understanding of the men we have all grown to admire and to be able to take this knowledge back to the students is a true gift indeed!"

Martha Holt
U.S. Government Teacher
Fluvanna County High School, Virginia

"Thank you so much for a great conference ... I think the Washington Jefferson & Madison Institute does an incredible job and all the great resources you give us are fantastic. I think sometimes conferences rely too much on trying to teach teachers to teach. We know how to do that, ... [but] you give us tools to make us more rounded historians, so we can take back solid information to our students ... it is very appreciated."

Kallan Parsley
U.S. History Teacher
Nelson County Middle School, Virginia


Sidney's "Discourses Concerning Government" and Locke’s Second Treatise on Government were recommended by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison as containing the "general principles of liberty and the rights of man, in nature and society" and as "those generally approved" by the citizens of the United States. (See Minutes of the Board of Visitors, University of Virginia, March 4, 1825).

Locke's "Second Treatise on Government"

Titled an "Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government." The doctrines of Locke are often cited as a primary source for principles included in the Declaration of Independence. First published in 1690 in England.

Quotes from Sidney's “Discourses Concerning Government"

"The world has so long and so generally sounded the praises of [Sidney's] discourses on government, that it seems superfluous, and even presumptuous, for an individual to add his feeble breath to the gale. They are in truth a rich treasure of republican principles, supported by copious & cogent arguments, and adorned with the finest flowers of science. It is probably the best elementary book of the principles of government, as founded in natural right which has ever been published in any language." (Thomas Jefferson). First published in 1698 in England.


The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence, The Federalist Papers and George Washington's Farewell Address.

The Constitution of the United States (and Bill of Rights)

Adopted by the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787. It was ratified by three-fourths of the States on July 2, 1788. Ratification of the Bill of Rights was completed December 15, 1791. "The most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man." (Gladstone)

The Declaration of Independence

Adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, its signers pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Written by Thomas Jefferson, it stands as a timeless statement of human liberty, rights and equality

The Federalist Papers (Library of Congress)

A collection of eighty-five letters written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison & John Jay under the pseudonym of "Publius" to the citizens of the State of New York from October 17, 1787 to August 16, 1788, in argument for the adoption of the Constitution. "[T]he best commentary on the principles of government which ever was written."(Thomas Jefferson). "The most important work in political science ever written in the United States." (Clinton Rossiter).

George Washington's Farewell Address

Published September 19, 1796. Prepared with the assistance of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, it contains all of the true maxims of American Liberty. Abraham Lincoln recommended that the people of the United States read Washington's "immortal Farewell Address" in celebration of the anniversary of the birth of the Father of our Country. 

Executive Letter, February 19, 1862).


The Institute’s primary publication is “Jefferson & Madison’s Guide to the Constitution.” This publication is intended to assist teachers, students, parents, and citizens in understanding and appreciating the Constitution of the United States of America. It is designed as a handbook for studying the Constitution in the tradition of the founders, using the source documents and writings identified by them as the “best guides” to its principles and meaning. These sources include the writings of Locke and Sidney, the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, and Washington’s Farewell Address.

The Institute encourages the reading and study of America's Founding Documents and their Sources in our public schools. See:


The Federalist Papers

By Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay

(available in paperback from Signet, Mentor, Penguin, and Bantam books)




An American Primer

Edited by Daniel J. Boorstin

Contains the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, George Washington's Inaugural and Farewell Addresses, Thomas Jefferson's Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and other important U. S. historical documents. (available in paperback from Meridian (Penguin))


Discourses Concerning Government

By Algernon Sidney (Edited by Thomas G. West, Liberty Fund, Inc., 1996)



An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government

By John Locke (in Social Contract, Oxford University Press, 1960)

Vindicating the Founders

By Thomas G. West

(Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1997)



The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution

By Bernard Bailyn

(Harvard University Press, 1992)



Never Before in History: America's Inspired Birth

By Gary Amos and Richard Gardiner

(Pandas Publications, Haughton Publishing Company, 1998)


Miracle at Philadelphia

By Catherine Drinker Bowen

(Paperback, Little Brown & Company, Inc.)


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Tony Williams is the Program Director of the Washington, Jefferson & Madison Institute. He attended Syracuse University where he earned a B.A. in history and Ohio State University where he earned an M.A. in American history.  He has written four books on colonial and Revolutionary America: The Jamestown Experiment (2011), America’s Beginnings (2010), The Pox and the Covenant (2010) and Hurricane of Independence (2008). He has taught history for fifteen years. He lives with his wife and children in Williamsburg, Virginia.




J. David Gowdy is the Founder and President of the Washington, Jefferson & Madison Institute. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Kansas State University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and received his Juris Doctorate degree from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, graduatingCum Laude. He is a member of the Texas and California Bar Associations. He has practiced law with both large and small law firms and has been the co-founder of several businesses. He is the author of “Thomas Jefferson & James Madison’s Guide to Understanding and Teaching the Constitution” and “Seven Principles of Liberty.” Mr. Gowdy serves on the Advisory Board of the Center for American Studies at Christopher Newport University. He lives with his wife in Charlottesville, Virginia.


How to reach us:

By Email: info@wjmi.org

By Phone: (434) 975-1776