• A Landmark Lesson: The United States Capitol Building

    U.S. Capitol dome

    Presented with a variety of archival documents, your students can answer that question: What makes the Capitol symbolic? Working in small groups, the students will uncover and share the Capitol's story.

  • Lesson 2: The Monroe Doctrine: President Monroe and the Independence Movement in South America

    An early portrait of James Monroe.

    How did conditions in Europe relate to the independence movements in South America? What reasons did President Monroe give for recognizing the independence movements in South America?

  • Lesson 3: George Washington: The Precedent President

    Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington

    George Washington became President—reluctantly—at a critical time in the history of the United States. The Confederation had threatened to unravel; the weak central government (which included a weak executive with the sole responsibility of presiding over meetings of Congress and no special power to initiate laws beyond that of any member of Congress, enforce laws, or check acts of Congress) created by the Articles of Confederation had failed.

  • Lesson 1: The President Under the Articles of Confederation

    Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington

    At the time the Founders were shaping the future of a new country, John Adams suggested the President should be addressed as “His Excellency.” Happily, others recognized that such a title was inappropriate. Though the proper form of address represents only a small detail, defining everything about the Presidency was central to the idea of America that was a work-in-progress when the nation was young.

  • Lesson 3: Lost Hero: Was John Hanson Actually the First President?

    What important developments occurred during John Hanson’s term as the first full-term "President of the United States in Congress Assembled"? How did they affect the future of the U.S. and the office of the President?

  • Lesson 2: The Debate in Congress on the Sedition Act

    James Madison.

    What provisions in the U.S. Constitution are relevant to the debate over the Sedition Act? For this lesson, students will read brief excerpts from actual debates in the House of Representatives as the legislators attempted to work with the version of the bill "Punishment of Crime" (later known as the Sedition Act) already passed by the Senate.

  • Lesson 3: A Debate Against Slavery

    Anti-slavery poster form the 1850s

    Sometimes, people will fight to keep someone else from being treated poorly. Disagreement over slavery was central to the conflict between the North and the South. The nation was deeply divided.

  • Lesson 4: Thomas Jefferson on the Sedition Act

    Thomas Jefferson.

    What arguments were put forth in objection to the Sedition Act? Supporters of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison believed the Sedition Act was designed to repress political opposition to President John Adams and the Federalists.

  • Lesson 4: Life Before the Civil War

    Anti-slavery poster form the 1850s

    Students demonstrate their knowledge of life before the Civil War, with an emphasis on differences between the North and South.

  • Lesson 5: Consequences of the Sedition Act

    Headline from a broadside protesting the Sedition Act.

    In 1798, Jefferson predicted the consequences of the passage of the Sedition (and Alien) Act. In this lesson, students will look at documents reflecting some of the consequences of the Sedition Act. How close was Jefferson's prediction?