This lesson helps students learn about the judicial system through simulating a real court case involving student free speech rights. In addition to learning about how the Supreme Court operates, students will explore how the Supreme Court protects their rights, interprets the Constitution, and works with the other two branches of government.
When the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention convened in May of 1787 to recommend amendments to the Articles of Confederation, one of the first issues they addressed was the plan for representation in Congress. This lesson will focus on the various plans for representation debated during the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
This lesson will focus on the arguments either for or against the addition of a Bill of Rights between 1787 and 1789. By examining the views of prominent Americans in original documents, students will see that the issue at the heart of the debate was whether a Bill of Rights was necessary to secure and fulfill the objects of the American Revolution and the principles of the Declaration of Independence. Students will also gain an understanding of the origins of the Bill of Rights and how it came to be part of what Thomas Jefferson called "the American mind," as well as a greater awareness of the difficulties that proponents had to overcome in order to add the first ten Amendments to the Constitution.
This lesson introduces students to the vigorous debates surrounding the ratification of the Constitution that took place in the state conventions. State delegates grappled with questions about the nature of democracy, the distribution of wealth and power in society, the rights of individuals and minority groups, and the role of dissent in a republic.
The classic American drama Twelve Angry Men can be used to frame discussion of the constitutional right and civic function of the trial by jury. The lesson explores the specific provisions associated with this right as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the system.
This lesson involves a detailed analysis of Alexander Hamilton’s and James Madison’s arguments in favor of the extended republic in The Federalist Nos. 9, 10 and 51. Students consider and understand in greater depth the problem of faction in a free republic and the difficulty of establishing a government that has enough power to fulfill its responsibilities, but which will not abuse that power and infringe on liberties of citizens.
As the delegates at the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 continued to develop a plan of government that would remedy the defects of the Articles of Confederation, one of the most difficult challenges was creating the office of the presidency. This lesson will focus on the arguments over the various characteristics and powers of the office of president as debated during the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
This lesson focuses on the chief objections of the Anti-federalists, especially The Federal Farmer (Richard Henry Lee), Centinel, and Brutus, regarding the extended republic. Students become familiar with the larger issues surrounding this debate, including the nature of the American Union, the difficulties of uniting such a vast territory with a diverse multitude of regional interests, and the challenges of maintaining a free republic as the American people moved toward becoming a nation rather than a mere confederation of individual states.
This lesson looks at Thomas Paine and at some of the ideas presented in his pamphlet, "Common Sense," such as national unity, natural rights, the illegitimacy of the monarchy and of hereditary aristocracy, and the necessity for independence and the revolutionary struggle.