America is an exceptionally good country

Dr. Larry P. Arnn teaching Aristotle’s Ethics

Larry P. Arnn
Hillsdale College

The first question is, why study civics? As the classical authors teach us, living under laws is natural for human beings. After all, we can think in different ways than other creatures, and we can talk. Whatever we can think, we can say. That makes a natural closeness among us, and the political community is an expression of that closeness. For that reason alone, civics is one of those subjects that the educated person must know.

The second reason is that politics is important. Great harm is done by bad laws, and great good by good laws. We are citizens. We have an obligation to our fellow citizens and an interest for ourselves to make the laws as good as they can be.

The third reason is that the United States of America, our country, is a remarkable place. In 2026, we will reach the 250th anniversary of the founding of our nation. By any reckoning, this is a significant milestone. Our nation has grown from a few people huddled in a strange land along the eastern seaboard to a huge nation that spans the continent. Through the vast changes that have come upon the world and the United States in these centuries, the nation has been governed under a written Constitution, the oldest surviving in human history. Under the principles of the Declaration of Independence, that Constitution provides for a government operating under the authority of the governed. This achievement is unprecedented.

Larry P. Arnn Signature

Larry P. Arnn

Download the Curriculum


The Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum


An Introduction

CONTENT | Engaging an Inheritance

In history and civics classes, American students should have one aim above all: to understand what they have received, i.e., their inheritance as Americans. To understand clearly, students and teacher alike must adopt a stance of humility. And this humility is fostered by the recognition on the part of the student that the world in which we live, with all its benefits and also its faults, is not of our own creation. This is the beginning of American history and civic education.

From this starting point, the field of discovery in history and civics is, if not endless, then impossible to explore completely in any number of lifetimes. Principles must therefore be discerned and applied to determine where to begin, on what to focus, and in which order. The need to choose and choose carefully is all the more pressing within the limits of thirteen years of formal education.

Instead, The Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum determines what students should learn in history and civics based on the answers to a single question: What ideas, words, and deeds have most significantly formed the world into which students were born? Studying the answers to this question provides students the fullest understanding of the world in which they will live their lives.

PEDAGOGY | Sharing a Love
SEQUENCE | For the American Student
STRUCTURE | Clarity and Simplicity
USE | The Freedom to Teach
SUCCESS | What Is Needed
GRATITUDE | Real Teachers, Real Classrooms, Real Students

A Note to Teachers

This curriculum is for you.


Read the Letter

Free to All Who Wish to Learn

The Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum includes:

  • American history lessons from pre-European Exploration through Reconstruction for K-12 teachers
  • American history lessons from the Gilded Age to present day for middle and high school teachers
  • Complete civics and government courses for middle and high school teachers
  • Hillsdale College-vetted book, online course, and resource recommendations
  • Student-ready primary sources
  • Sample assignments, activities, and assessments
  • An Introduction that includes the principles of the curriculum, pedagogical guidance, and advice for adopting the curriculum
Dr. Matthew Spalding

“The teaching of honest history and an accurate account of civics is the key to forming good citizens. The Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum has been carefully designed to do just that, providing parents, teachers, and schools not with what they should oppose, but with a solid curriculum they can wholeheartedly endorse for all of America’s children.”

Matthew Spalding
Dean, Van Andel Graduate School of Government
Hillsdale College

The Education American Students Deserve

The Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum is a complete collection of lesson plans for teaching American history, civics, and government to K-12 students. Students who study using this curriculum learn about American history from the colonies through the Civil War at four different times during their K-12 years, each time increasing in depth. The curriculum also includes American history since the Civil War and American government and civics for both middle and high school students.

This curriculum provides teachers with guidance—not dictates—about how to plan and teach a given topic in American history or civics. This guidance includes Hillsdale College-vetted books, online courses, and other resource recommendations; lists of content topics, stories to tell, and questions to ask of students; “Keys to the Lesson” that clarify important points for teachers to keep in mind; student-ready primary sources; and sample assignments, activities, and assessments. 

The Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum is the product of Hillsdale College professors and some of the very best K-12 teachers, both past and present, derived from and created for real classrooms with real students taught by real teachers. It is an ongoing and transparent project based on the most current accurate scholarship as well as novel insights from K-12 teachers. Future history units are in development, and published units will continue to be updated in response to constructive feedback and consideration.