This lesson plan looks at the major ideas in the Declaration of Independence, their origins, the Americans’ key grievances against the King and Parliament, their assertion of sovereignty, and the Declaration’s process of revision.
Students analyze archival cartoons, posters, magazine humor, newspaper articles and poems that reflect the deeply entrenched attitudes and beliefs the early crusaders for women’s rights had to overcome.
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.
In this lesson, students examine the critical factors leading to the development of the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans and look at the timeline of key events and issues caused the differences in opinion.
The rivalry between the Federalists and Republicans in the early days of the American Republic was bitter. What were the key positions of the parties? How important to the parties' positions were their basic attitudes toward constitutional interpretation (Federalists, broad interpretation / Democratic-Republicans, strict interpretation)? Which positions of either party resonate in the politics of today?
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.
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.
If James Madison was the "father" of the Constitution," John Marshall was the "father of the Supreme Court"—almost single-handedly clarifying its powers. This new lesson is designed to help students understand Marshall's brilliant strategy in issuing his decision on Marbury v. Madison, the significance of the concept of judicial review, and the language of this watershed case.
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.