Located in Buena Vista, Virginia, near Southern Virginia University (SVU), the George Washington Center for Constitutional Studies is a nonpartisan academic institute that promotes Civic Education, and the instruction, study, and ideological defense of the Constitution of the United States of America, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, using primary sources. While not affiliated with SVU, the Center is developing an informal relationship with the University.
The Center offers classes and instruction on the Constitution, America’s founding documents, the lives and writings of the Founders, the Revolution and Founding of the American Republic, and will hold, sponsor or participate in events, conferences, seminars, workshops, symposia and related activities. It brings together students, teachers, scholars and citizens for consideration of constitutional principles, and issues relating to history, politics, and religion.
Principles of the Constitution
Explore natural law principles of liberty, virtue, equality, and law through the original curriculum for the teaching the Constitution at the University of Virginia, set forth by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the Board of Visitors (March 4, 1825). Key documents to be studied are Locke’s Second Treatise on Government, Sidney’s Discourses Concerning Government, the Declaration of Independence, Federalist Papers Nos. 1, 10, 39, 51, 78 and 84, and Washington’s Farewell Address. Download a free copy of "Jefferson & Madison's Guide to the Constitution."
Lives & Writings of the Founding Fathers
The Constitution and principles of self-government in a free society are best comprehended and understood in the context of the personal histories and views of framers themselves. Explore the character and statesmanship of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton, including their public service, political philosophy, diplomacy, contributions to American independence and the establishment of the Republic. Key documents that will be studied are selected letters and speeches, articles, pamphlets, autobiographies, Notes, the Federalist, Inaugural Addresses, and other original source documents.
Religion & the Founding of the American Republic
Explore the role of religion on the colonists and the War for Independence, its influence on the American Founding, the religious beliefs of the Founders, the effects of the Enlightenment, and the relationship between religion and a virtuous Republic. Key documents to be studied are the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Declaration of Rights, Proclamations of Thanksgiving and Fasting, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance, the First Amendment to the Constitution, and George Washington’s Letters to the Congregations. Download a free copy of the "WJMI Religious Liberty & the Founding Reader."
The GWCCS Faculty
With over two decades of experience in teaching students, teachers and citizens the principles of the Constitution and the American Founding based on original source documents, the faculty of the George Washington Center for Constitutional Studies offers "deeper insights into our founding fathers and their vision for our country." -- Martha Holt, U.S. Government Teacher, Fluvanna County High School, Virginia
J. David Gowdy
Founder & Executive Director
The Founder and Executive Director of the Center is J. David Gowdy. Mr. Gowdy received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Kansas State University in 1979, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and received his Juris Doctorate degree from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University in 1982, graduating Cum Laude. He has practiced law and founded several businesses and is a member of the Texas and California Bar Associations. He is the founder and President of the Washington, Jefferson & Madison Institute established in 2004. For the past ten years, WJMI has been providing continuing education courses to secondary school government and history teachers, and civic groups, on the principles of the Constitution and the lives and writings of the Founding Fathers. He is the author of “Seven Principles of Liberty” and “Jefferson & Madison’s Guide to the Constitution.” He serves on the Advisory Board of the Center for American Studies at Christopher Newport University (Newport News, VA) and on the Board of the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society (Charlottesville, VA) .
Tony Williams is the Program Director of the Center and the affiliated Washington, Jefferson & Madison Institute. He is currently employed as a Senior Fellow at the Bill of Rights Institute in Washington D.C. Tony 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 five books on colonial and Revolutionary America: Washington & Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America (2015)(co-authored with Stephen P. Knott), 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.