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.
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.
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.
After an overview of the events surrounding Paul Revere's famous ride, this lesson challenges students to think about the reasons for that fame. Using both primary and secondhand accounts, students compare the account of Revere's ride in Longfellow's famous poem with actual historical events, in order to answer the question: why does Revere's ride occupy such a prominent place in the American consciousness?
While the French had kept their end of the bargain by completing the statue itself, the Americans had still not fulfilled their commitment to erect a pedestal. In this lesson, students learn about the effort to convince a skeptical American public to contribute to the effort to erect a pedestal and to bring the Statue of Liberty to New York.
This lesson discusses the differences between common representations of Native Americans within the U.S. and a more differentiated view of historical and contemporary cultures of five American Indian tribes living in different geographical areas. Students will learn about customs and traditions such as housing, agriculture, and ceremonial dress for the Tlingit, Dinè, Lakota, Muscogee, and Iroquois peoples.
The realities of slavery and Reconstruction hit home in poignant oral histories from the Library of Congress. In these activities, students research narratives from the Federal Writers' Project and describe the lives of former African slaves in the U.S. -- both before and after emancipation. From varied stories, students sample the breadth of individual experiences, make generalizations about the effects of slavery and Reconstruction on African Americans, and evaluate primary source documents.