• Mission Nuestra Señora de la Concepción and the Spanish Mission in the New World

    Mission Nuestra Señora de la Concepción de Acuña, San Antonio, Texas, 1755.  Convento and church at dusk.

    In this Picturing America lesson, students explore the historical origins and organization of the Spanish missions in the New World, and discover the varied purposes these communities of faith served.

  • Colonizing the Bay

    John Winthrop wrote "General Observations for the Plantation of New  England"

    This lesson focuses on John Winthrop’s historic "Model of Christian Charity" sermon which is often referred to by its “City on a Hill “ metaphor. Through a close reading of this admittedly difficult text, students will learn how it illuminates the beliefs, goals, and programs of the Puritans. The sermon sought to inspire and to motivate the Puritans by pointing out the distance they had to travel between an ideal community and their real-world situation.

  • 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 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?

  • Lesson 3: James Madison: Raising an Army: Balancing the Power of the States and the Federal Government

    James Madison.

    Not everyone in the U.S. supported the War of 1812. What events during Madison's presidency raised constitutional questions? What were the constitutional issues? Where did Madison stand?

  • Lesson 4: James Madison: Internal Improvements Balancing Act: Federal/State, Executive/Legislative

    James Madison.

    There was general agreement at the beginning of the 19th century that the U.S. would greatly benefit from some internal improvements of a national nature, such as a nationwide network of roads and canals. But how should the funds for such projects be raised? Who should be in control of the projects—that is, who should administer them?

  • Lesson 2: James Madison: The Second National Bank—Powers Not Specified in the Constitution

    James Madison.

    In this lesson, students examine the First and Second National Banks and whether or not such a bank's powers are constitutional or unconstitutional.

  • Lesson 5: Women's Lives Before the Civil War

    Anti-slavery poster form the 1850s

    What was life like for women in the first half of the 19th century in America? What influence did women have in shaping the attitudes towards slavery? Towards women's suffrage?

  • Magna Carta: Cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution

    King John of England (right) and an English baron agreeing to Magna Carta

    Magna Carta served to lay the foundation for the evolution of parliamentary government and subsequent declarations of rights in Great Britain and the United States. In attempting to establish checks on the king's powers, this document asserted the right of "due process" of law.

  • Images of the New World

    Detail of an engraving by Theodor De Bry (printed 1590)

    How did the English picture the native peoples of America during the early phases of colonization of North America? This lesson plan will enable students to interact with written and visual accounts of this critical formative period at the end of the 16th century, when the English view of the New World was being formulated, with consequences that we are still seeing today.