Wholly unlike the other study guides in this collection, Words Aptly Spoken®: American Documents studies the history of American government through the lens of the documents that shaped it. These primary sources allow readers to enter into history first-hand.

The book opens with portraits of all the U.S. presidents and vice presidents, followed by 17 speeches by famous statesmen, including Patrick Henry, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln. Poets like William Thackeray and Joaquin Miller further enliven historical events with poems about Pocahontas, The Battle of the Alamo, and Panama. In addition, formative essays, such as two of the Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, provide valuable insight into the United States Constitution and the government it was meant to establish. Following this, the collection includes important legal documents that further influenced the nation’s government, its boundaries, and the rights of its citizens.

These four types of documents—orations, poetry, essays, and legal documents—combine to equal 43 informative pieces of American history, each accompanied by questions for review and further thought. In order to further students’ experience of American history, the text also includes illustrations and photographs selected from the U.S. Library of Congress.