In this course, we will explore a selection of key texts from the colonial period to the 21st century that have helped to shape and to contest the contemporary ideals and ideas of American political thought. In the early weeks of the semester, we will cull intellectual themes from debates of the colonial and founding period, with a particular focus on moments in which revolutionary ideas of freedom and equality run up against persistent patterns of persecution, exclusion and inequality. We will then track these themes and patterns as they re-emerge in the context of fundamental challenges to the political order across 19th- and 20th-century American politics. Topics include the relationship between religion and politics, federalism and anti-federalism, national identity and individual rights, and the relationship of subordinated groups and dissidents to mainstream political discourse. Questions regarding the relevance of historical debates to contemporary political dissent will guide our investigations. Required readings are drawn mainly from primary sources, including writings of politicians, activists, and theorists.