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.
In this lesson, students will learn that enslaved people resisted their captivity constantly. Because they were living under the domination of their masters, slaves knew that direct, outright, overt resistance—such as talking back, hitting their master or running away—could result in being whipped, sold away from their families and friends, or even killed.
Harriet Jacobs was the first woman to write a slave narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861). She was born a slave in 1813 in Edenton, North Carolina, and died free in Washington, D. C., at the age of eighty-four. Elizabeth Keckly was born into slavery in 1818 near Petersburg, Virginia. She learned to sew from her mother, an expert seamstress enslaved in the Burwell family.
In this lesson, students analytically read “Learning to Read,” a poem by Francis Watkins Harper about an elderly former slave which conveys the value of literacy to blacks during and after slavery. The activities help students examine the experiences of slaves, the history of literacy, and 21st century values on the power of reading.
The Preamble is the introduction to the United States Constitution, and it serves two central purposes. First, it states the source from which the Constitution derives its authority: the sovereign people of the United States. Second, it sets forth the ends that the Constitution and the government that it establishes are meant to serve.
This lesson provides students with tools to analyze primary source newspaper articles about the Great War (1914–1917) in order to understand public opinion regarding the U.S. entry into the war from multiple perspectives.
In this lesson, students examine the contrasting view of two free black men in nineteenth century America abolitionist David Walker and black nationalist John Day. After reviewing background information and primary sources about the two polices, students will argue for or against the most beneficial policy for nineteenth-century African Americans.
In this lesson, students will practice close reading of passages from Galileo’s Starry Messenger concerning his observations of the stars and constellations through a telescope. They will develop an understanding of how he constructed his arguments to challenge the established views of his time using new technology and logical reasoning.