Faculty Bio

Matthew Spalding

Matthew Spalding

Matthew Spalding connects the principles of the nation’s founding with today’s thorniest issues as vice president for American Studies at The Heritage Foundation. A constitutional scholar, historian and best-selling author, Spalding also oversees Heritage’s B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics and serves as project leader for the think tank’s First Principles initiative.

The Center for Principles and Politics sponsors lectures, organizes seminars, crafts publications and supports the work of scholars. Its mission is to teach policymakers, political leaders and ordinary citizens about the principles of the nation’s political tradition and to explain the continued relevance and application of those principles in 21st-century America.

In Spalding’s 2009 best-seller, We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future (ISI Books), he details America’s core principles, shows how they have come under assault by modern progressive-liberalism and lays out a strategy to recover them. The book, along with a subsequent “Leader’s Guide” and DVD, proved to be a guiding text for the fast-growing Tea Party movement.

First Principles, one of 10 transformational initiatives in Heritage’s Leadership for America campaign, seeks to provide a much-needed education for policymakers, the news media and regular Americans on the ideas of liberty and constitutional self-government. The overall objective is to reorient the nation’s politics and public policy to the enduring principles of the American founding.

Spalding also is executive editor of The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, a line-by-line analysis of each clause of the U.S. Constitution. His other books as author or editor include A Sacred Union of Citizens: Washington’s Farewell Address and the American Character; Patriot Sage: George Washington and the American Political Tradition; and The Founders’ Almanac: A Practical Guide to the Notable Events, Greatest Leaders & Most Eloquent Words of the American Founding.

Spalding, who came to Heritage in 1994, was the founding director of the Center for Principles and Politics before joining senior management in April 2011 upon his promotion to vice president for American studies.

Previously, Spalding worked as a senior policy analyst at the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, a think tank in Southern California where he currently is a fellow. A graduate of Claremont McKenna College, he holds a doctorate in government from Claremont Graduate School, where he concentrated his studies on political philosophy and early American political thought.

He has taught American government at George Mason University, the Catholic University of America and Claremont McKenna College. He is an adjunct fellow at the Kirby Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship at Hillsdale College.

Spalding's work on The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, which brought together the contributions of 109 legal authorities, earned him Heritage’s prestigious W. Glenn and Rita Ricardo Campbell Award in 2006. The award is given to the Heritage employee who makes “an outstanding contribution to the analysis and promotion of a free society."

He and his wife, Elizabeth, currently reside with their two children in Arlington, Va.