The Patriot's Handbook by George Grant

The Patriot's Handbook: A Citizenship Primer for a New Generation of Americans

George Grant

Published 1996

American non-fiction

Challenge: Unread Books Project


I remember when I bought this book many years ago with the purpose of becoming more enlightened about America. I began reading, but stopped and put it away for many years. Now that I am intent on reading all the books on my shelves, it was time to get it done. So here it is.

The Patriot's Handbook is one of two American-themed books that I read side-by-side. This one is broken up into four chronological themes, supported by documents, poems, letters, Supreme Court decisions, presidential addresses, songs, short stories, and more. Most of these can be found online somewhere, but it is convenient to have them in one book. 

My favorites were Liberty or Death by Patrick Henry, Paul Revere's Ride by Longfellow, Washington's Inaugural and Farewell Addresses, and, my absolute best choice, The Right to Rebel by Samuel West, which was a sermon given to the Council and House of Representatives in 1776. Between Common Sense and this sermon, I think West gave a similarly persuasive rationalization for independence from Britain.  

Other favs were League of Nations Speech by Henry Cabot Lodge and Letter from the Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr.  Personally, I think Grant should have included King's I Have a Dream Speech in addition to this letter.

Also included: The U.S. Constitution, The Bill of Rights, a couple of The Federalists essays, biographies on Founding Fathers and forgotten Presidents, Amendments to the Constitution, The National Anthem, Fathers of the future, and more. 

As per the four chapters, the following are only SOME of the other documents, songs, poems, letters, and speeches found in The Patriot's Handbook.

Part I: City on a Hill

Apologia by Christopher Columbus

The Mayflower Compact

Essays to Do Good by Cotton Mather

Sir Humphrey Gilbert by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Part II: An Experiment in Liberty

The Method of Grace by George Whitefield

The Divine Source of Liberty by Samuel Adams

Liberty Tree by Thomas Paine

Nathan Hale by Francis Miles Finch

The Bunker Hill Oration by Daniel Webster

Part III: Manifest Destiny

The Defense of the Alamo by Joaquin Miller

The Slavery Question by John C. Calhoun

A House Divided by Abraham Lincoln

The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln

The Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln

O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman

Part IV: The American Dream

Seneca Falls Declaration by Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Atlanta Exposition Address by Booker T. Washington

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

Pear Harbor Address by FDR

Nobel Prize Acceptance by William Faulkner

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka by Earl Warren

Roe v. Wade by Harry Blackmun

Inaugural Address by Ronald Reagan

The Message fo Freedom by Alan Keyes

* * *

Once I started digging into my nation's history (long before this book), I began to develop a clearer appreciation for the courage, ingenuity, and sacrifice of those Americans (including many immigrants) from the past, and I learned to be grateful for my country. It is imperative to see all of it, even the unpleasant and unjust; but examine your nation's past and draw from it what is good and right, and continue building upon it. 

Learn your nation's history via its historical documents, essays, speeches, letters, folksong and lore, poems, and biographies of influential voices. It helps to read with an open heart and mind, willing to learn, to ask questions, and challenge your perspective. 

If you live disconnected from and ignorant of the past, you live vulnerably in the present. In America, an arrogant, presumptuous, and irresponsible trend seeks to discard the past and start over using other disastrous ideas because some are dissatisfied with an imperfect past. In part, this is because they lack an understanding of human nature and sin, but I digress.

The times in which people lived before us are not our own time. Instead, we must ask if we are doing any better with what is before us now rather than lay blame for every human condition on the dead who can do nothing more for the future. 


  1. We have several copies of this at the library! It's a great collection. :)

    1. I like that the editor published documents in their entirety, as opposed to just sections. This current text I am reading used only portions of each entry, which is typical of school text books.

  2. Even though I think of myself as having had a good education, I find myself now, wanting more American foundational history. Like you, I don't like what's happening as we argue and malign the past. There are shortcomings, of course, but I feel there is an element that wants to chuck the whole thing, including all the intrinsic originality that the Founders were trying create. Just recently, I started thinking about making a long-term challenge about it. This looks like a very good anthology to add to it.

    1. Laurie, may I also suggest Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great Story of America, by Wilfred McClay.


      It was published in 2019. The object of the author was to inspire his readers, and so far he hasn't disappointed.

  3. Reading this post (and especially the quotes) I was thinking it might be interesting to do a compilation of quotes from the Founding Fathers. I think many people have forgotten what they fought/strove for and the foundational tenets that allowed America to grow into the great nation it is. It might be illuminating.

    In any case, an interesting review. If I'm ever able to cross the border again, I'll keep a look out for it in my favourite used book stores!

    1. It is definitely enlightening to read their writings, letters, speeches, and documents. You get closer to the whole picture when you study the past. Their quotes are like snippets of their thoughts, like the cherry on top of the whipped cream on a whole pie. (Sorry, my husband is talking to me about dessert!)

      BTW, how close are you to the border? Has it been easy to cross in the past -- preCovid days?
      Do you see a similar disinterest in your country, a disconnect from Canada's past and her founding?

    2. I'm about a 20 minute drive to the border and used to go across all the time .... often once every 3 weeks. Food was quite a bit cheaper, even with the exchange. Mostly it was easy to cross. If one wanted to get a NEXUS pass you're pre-approved and crossing was a breeze but I'd just time it when it wasn't busy. You'd get questioned alot but since I went over regularly I wasn't asked much. Now, of course, borders are closed.

      Canadians never really had a close connection to our heritage, at least not anywhere near to the extent that Americans do. During homeschooling I always lamented that there was not many Canadians historically worth of respect compared to America. Sir Isaac Brock was supposed to be good and perhaps John A. MacDonald but otherwise ...??? I must say, I prefer American history! So short answer, we don't have much to disconnect from.

    3. Aww, that's a bummer! We've learned some Canadian history, which one cannot avoid when studying American history. It all ties nicely together. But I think American history is maybe more sentimental and psychologically based than Canada. ??? Everyone who is born here or becomes a citizen should learn the story of its foundation bc it is inspiring and unique. I think, anyway.

    4. That's very interesting, Cleo. I never thought about what sort of history Canadians might have. In Texas, not only do we study U.S. History, but also Texas history as a whole separate subject. Now I want to find some books on Canadian history.

  4. I have a similar book and I am also reading a book called the Patriot's Handbook, but it's not by Grant. I did read another book by him about technology and how it has shaped our current culture. As a matter of fact, isn't he Canadian?

    1. Just looked him up. Ha, ha. Two different George Grants.

    2. My author/editor lives in TN. I just noticed that he has a lot of titles under his name, mainly political, but he has one about books. It looks to be like the one you mention about technology, only this one is about how books shaped politics. I may have to check it out. Is your other similar book called A Patriot's History of the United States? Curious bc I have that one, too. It's by a Larry Schweikart.

    3. Yes, that's the one I have. I'm currently reading it and really enjoying it.

    4. Oh, good. If you do a write up post, I'll be interested to see what you thought. I won't be able to get to reading it this year, but maybe next year.