Freedom. It's an idea worth pledging a life for, in the words of Thomas Jefferson. A gift outright to the poet Robert Frost. A difficult responsibility, writes Frederick Douglass. Defiant and enduring, for Maya Angelou. Quarrelsome, to Kurt Vonnegut. Open-armed and welcoming-Emma Lazarus.

Why Freedom Matters celebrates freedom in over 100 speeches, letters, essays, poems, and songs, all infused with the spirit of democracy. Here are the voices of presidents and slaves, founding fathers and hip-hop artists, suffragettes, civil rights workers, preachers, labor leaders, and baseball players. Inspired by the Declaration of Independence, the book is published in conjunction with The Declaration of Independence Road Trip, a 31/2-year cross-country educational tour of an extremely rare, original hand-printed copy of the Declaration, bought at auction by Norman Lear. The DOI Road Trip's mission is to energize Americans by bringing our founding document to towns small and large across the country; in 2003, for example, the Declaration and its accompanying exhibit will visit 27 cities from Birmingham to Billings, New Orleans to New York. Like the document itself, this compelling anthology reveals America's soul as it wrestles with questions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and strives to fulfill the ideals of Thomas Jefferson's words.