\u201cI\u2019m a great believer that the founding principles continue to resonate in American life,\u201d said Todd Brewster. A journalist, author, and professor at Mt. Holyoke College, Brewster will orchestrate what\u2019s envisioned as a deep look into some of the thinking in America\u2019s founding documents to see how the founders\u2019 ideals and principles show up in today\u2019s America, helping shape the lives and interactions of today\u2019s Americans. \u201cWe define and redefine ourselves over and over again, but we\u2019re always reaching back to touch the \u2018first principles\u2019 monument, and be reconnected to it,\u201d Brewster said. Brewster will moderate a panel discussion at the Ridgefield Library this Sunday, Jan. 27, at 2 p.m. to kick off \u201cRevisiting the Founding Era,\u201d a series of history programs that stretches into spring. The panel for Sunday\u2019s discussion includes: Connecticut Attorney General Will Tong; past president of the American CIvil Liberties Union (ACLU) and New York University law professor Nadine Strossen; Ridgefield High School history teacher and Ridgefield Teacher of the Year Jennifer DeJulio; and Western Connecticut State University history professor Leslie Lindenauer. \u201cThere will be plenty of time for Q & A,\u201d said the library\u2019s program director, Lesley Lambton. \u201cTeens and adults are encouraged to attend and engage in this important conversation.\u201d \u2018Check and restrained\u2019 Brewster has chosen three specific expressions from well-known founders \u2014 two quotes, and an work of art \u2014 that will be the focal points for the discussion. First is John Adams writing on the separation of powers that is realized in the Constitution\u2019s balancing of legislative, executive and judicial authority. It\u2019s from a 1775 letter to Richard Henry Lee. \u201cIt is by balancing each of these Powers against the other two, that the Effort in Human Nature towards Tyranny can alone be checked and restrained\u2026,\u201d Adams wrote. It\u2019s a concern Brewster finds recurring in modern America as power consolidated in the presidency. \u201cThe executive has actually been growing since the time of Lincoln, but there\u2019s been a dramatic growth since the World War II period \u2014 not only in size, but in the power of the executive branch,\u201d he said. \u201cSome of this was the outgrowth of historical events: the Great Depression and World War II and the Cold War. \u201cWe\u2019re starting to see what problems can come from an executive that has grown out of size,\u201d he said. Second is a quote from Thomas Paine\u2019s Common Sense: \u201cThis new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe\u2026\u201d Brewster relates this to the fierce debate currently ranging over asylum seekers and immigration. \u201cThe nature of our being an asylum for the persecuted is being called into question today by those who feel we\u2019ve been too willing to take in the persecuted from all parts of the world, and endanger the quality of our own society by being too willing to fulfil our mission to those who find themselves in dire straights in other parts of the world,\u201d he said. Brewster\u2019s third selection is not a quote but an engraving showing British troops firing at close range into a crowd of unarmed colonials in 1770\u2019s Boston Massacre. The engraving was done by Paul Revere. The founders\u2019 political ideals, and the habits of tolerance and democracy they inspire, are what hold Americans together as a nation, according to Brewster. \u201cWe\u2019re not bound by a common ethnicity. We\u2019re not bound by a common religion,\u201d he said. \u201cWe\u2019re not bound by a common experience, even. But we\u2019ve attached ourselves to these founding principles.\u201d Four other programs The Revisiting the Founding Era series will have four other programs in the coming months. Characters from the Constitutional Convention of 1787 will be brought to life by author and legal scholar Akhil Amar on Sunday, Feb. 10, at 3 p.m., at the library. An illustrated talk about George Washington and his portrayal in art will be presented by art historian Michael Norris on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 2 p.m., at the library. A living history program for young people about slavery will be put on by Cheyney McKnight at Keeler Tavern Museum on Sunday, March 10. A field trip to the John Jay Homestead in Katonah, N.Y., will include a lecture on Saturday, March 23, at 1 p.m. (TIckets are $20. Registration is at ridgefieldhistoricalsociety.org or call 203-438-5821). Revisiting the Founding Era starts a new series called First Principles, which is co-sponsored by the Ridgefield Library, Keeler Tavern Museum and History Center, the Ridgefield Historical Society, the Drum Hill Chapter of the DAR, Books on the Common, the Connecticut Project for the Constitution and the Ridgefield League of Women Voters. It\u2019s part of a three-year national initiative of The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, in partnership with the American Library Association and the National Constitution Center, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Grants to 100 public libraries across the country will spark public conversations about the founding era\u2019s documents, ideas, and their influence today. For more information, visit foundingera.org.