“Democracy in America” by Alexis de Tocqueville is one of the most influential books ever written about America. While historians have viewed “Democracy” as a rich source about the age of Andrew Jackson, Tocqueville was more of a political thinker than a historian. His "new political science" offers insights into the problematic issues faced by democratic society.
Fear of factionalism and political parties was deeply rooted in Anglo-American political culture before the American Revolution. Leaders such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson hoped their new government, founded on the Constitution, would be motivated instead by a common intent, a unity. But political parties did form in the United States, with their beginnings in Washington's cabinet.
In this curriculum unit, students look at the role of President as defined in the Articles of Confederation and consider the precedent-setting accomplishments of John Hanson, the first full-term “President of the United States in Congress Assembled.”
The delegates at the 1787 Convention faced a challenge as arduous as those who worked throughout the 1780s to initiate reforms to the American political system. In this unit, students will examine the roles that key American founders played in creating the Constitution, and the challenges they faced in the process.