We the People Initiative
Join EDSITEment in support of the National Endowment for the Humanities We the People initiative, announced by President Bush in the fall of 2002. With over one-hundred EDSITEment lessons focused on some aspect of U.S. history, literature, or culture, and with panel-reviewed websites providing unprecedented access to primary documents and artifacts, EDSITEment offers you and your students a wealth of resources for studying the historical origins and core ideas and values of the American Republic.
For example, The Federalist Debates: Balancing Power Between State and Federal Government provides students with a richly detailed historical context for considering what has been and continues to be a central debate in American political life: how should power be distributed between states and the federal government? As do many other EDSITEment lessons on U.S. history, this lesson involves direct engagement with primary historical texts and other documents and artifacts central to the American story. Also providing historical background for framing topics for the We the People initiative are such EDSITEment lessons as 1) The Constitutional Convention: What the Founding Fathers Said; 2) The Constitutional Convention: Four Founding Fathers You May Never Have Met 3) Jefferson and Franklin: Revolutionary Philosophers; 4) Jefferson and Franklin: Renaissance Men 5) The Boston Tea Party: Costume Optional? 6) Revolutionary Tea Parties and the Reasons for Revolution. In addition, these lessons provide teachers with useful tools, such as interactive timelines and downloadable graphic organizers that can help students to comprehend the concrete details of American history.
EDSITEment lesson plans designed for younger students also raise challenging questions about the founding principles of this nation. For example, lessons such as Declare the Causes: The Declaration of Independence, and The Preamble to the Constitution: How Do You Make a More Perfect Union? bring alive the principles of democratic self-government established in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, and can be adapted for older students engaged in the study of primary documents. In Balancing Three Branches at Once: Our System of Checks and Balances, students analyze primary documents to demonstrate the challenges facing those forming a new government. Finally, the continuing significance of the founding principles of the American Republic can be explored in lessons such as The First Amendment: What's Fair in a Free Country, which helps students to learn about individual liberty and responsibility through the study of Supreme Court cases.
After exploring some of EDSITEment's U.S. history lessons your students may want to try online research through EDSITEment websites such as American Memory Project the Oyez Project, and the Digital Classroom of the National Archives and Records Administration, which provide unprecedented access to historical documents and electronic archives. These and other EDSITEment-reviewed resources on U.S. history and culture are great places for students to discover the people who contributed to the principles of democratic self-government and the roles they played in our nation's history. Students will then have a much clearer sense of who “We the People” are.
Online Primary Documents on EDSITEment web sites for reference: Declaration of Independence
Digital Classroom, NARA support
Avalon Project at Yale Law School
Digital Classroom, NARA
American Memory Collection, Library of Congress
Grade Level 9-12
Attitudes Toward Emancipation
Congressional Committees and the Legislative Process
Critical Ways of Seeing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in context
Cultural Change (Woman Suffrage Movement)
Dramatizing History in Arthur Miller's The Crucible
Edgar Allen Poe, Ambrose Bierce and the Unreliable Biographer
Evaluating Eyewitness Reports (Chicago Fire, & Civil War Diary)
Families in Bondage
Folklore in Zora Neal Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God
George Washington: The Living Symbol
Hawthorne: Author and Narrator
Images at War (World War II posters from Library of Congress)
Jazz and World War II: A Rally to Resistance, A Catalyst for Victory
Life on the Great Plains
Lincoln Goes to War
Mark Twain and American Humor
Ordinary People, OrdinaryPlaces: The Civil Rights Movement
Other Worlds: The Voyage of Columbus
Perspective on the Slave Narrative
The Red Badge of Courage:A New Kind of Courage
The Red Badge of Courage: A New Kind of Realism
Regulating Freedom of Speech (Looking at applications of the constitution)
Scripting the Past (Exploring Women's History through personal accounts)
The Secret Society and Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby
Voices of the American Revolution
Walt Whitman to Langston Hughes:Poems for a Democracy
Walt Whitman's Notebooks: The Sweep of the Universe
Was There an Industrial Revolution? New Workplace, New Technology, New Consumers
Was There an Industrial Revolution? Americans at Work Before the Civil War
Washington and the Whiskey Rebellion (Constitutional crisis & Washington's diary)
What Portraits Reveal (Presidential portraits)
Who Was Cinque?
Worth a Thousand Words: Depression Era Photographs
Grade Level 6-8
The Boston Tea Party: Costume Optional?
Colonial Broadsides and the American Revolution
Colonial Broadsides: A Student-Created Play
The Constitutional Convention: Four Founding Fathers You May Never Have Met
The Constitutional Convention: What the Founding Fathers Said
Edgar Allen Poe, Ambrose Bierce and the Unreliable Narrator
Eve of the Civil War: Factory vs.Plantation in the North and South
The Industrial Age in America: Robber Barons or Captains of Industry?
The Industrial Age in America: Sweatshops, Steel Mills, and Factories
Jack London's The Call of the Wild: Nature Faker?
Jefferson vs. Franklin: Renaissance Man
Jefferson vs. Franklin: Revolutionary Philosophers
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Listening to History (Looking at family history to understand U.S. history)
Martin Luther King and the Power of Non-violence
Metaphorical Gold: Mining the Gold Rush for Stories
Not Only Paul Revere: Other Riders of the American Revolution
On the Oregon Trail
Poems that Tell a Story: Persona and Narrative in the Poems of Robert Frost
The Poet's Voice: Langston Hughes and You
Revolutionary Tea Parties and the Reasons for Revolution
The Statue of Liberty: Bringing the 'New Colossus to America'
Voting Rights for Women: Pro-and Anti-Suffrage
Who Were the Foremothers of Women's Equality?
Why Do We Remember Revere? Paul Revere's Ride in History and Literature
Women in the White House (history of First Ladies)
Women's Suffrage: Why the West First?
American Colonial Life in the 1700's: Distant Cousins
Balancing Three Branches at Once: OurSystem of Checks and Balances
Born on a Mountaintop: Davy Crockett, Tall Tales, & History
Declare the Causes: the Declaration of Independence
Dust Bowl Days
The First Amendment: What's Fair in a Free Country
Go West: Imagining the Oregon Trail
History in Quilts
I Do Solemnly Swear: Presidential Inaugurations
I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Someone a Letter(Reading historic letters)
I've Just Seen a Face: Portraits
A Landmark Lesson: The United States Capitol Building
Let Freedom Ring: The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Music From Across America
Oh Say Can You See What the Star Spangled Banner Means
On the Home Front
On this Day with Lewis and Clark
The Preamble to the Constitution: How Do You Make a More Perfect Union?
Remember the Ladies: The First Ladies
Slave Narratives: Constructing U.S. History Through Analyzing Primary Sources
The Statue of Liberty: The Meaning and Use ofa National Symbol
Thomas Edison's Inventions in the 1900's and Today: From "New" to You
Traces: Historic Archaeology(historic U.S. places)
We Must Not be Enemies: Lincoln's First Inaugural Address
What Makes a Hero?
Dr. King's Dream
If You Were a Pioneer on the Oregon Trail
Like Father Like Son: Presidential Families (George W. Bush & John Adams)
Picturing First Families (Looking at presidential families)
Portrait of a Hero
The President's Roles and Responsibilities: Communicating with the President
The President's Roles and Responsibilities: Understanding the President's Job
Reading, Writing, 'Rithmetic in the One-Room Schoolhouse
Stars and Stripes Forever: Flag Facts, Flag Day
Stories in Quilts
Then and Now: Early America
Traditions and Languages of Three Native Cultures, Tlingit, Lakota, and Cherokee
What is History? Timelines and Oral Histories
- Balancing Three Branches at Once: Our System of Checks and Balances
- The Boston Tea Party: Costume Optional?
- The Constitutional Convention: Four Founding Fathers You May Never Have Met
- The Constitutional Convention: What the Founding Fathers Said
- Declare the Causes: The Declaration of Independence
- The First Amendment: What's Fair in a Free Country?
- Jefferson vs. Franklin: Renaissance Men
- Jefferson vs. Franklin: Revolutionary Philosophers
- The Preamble to the Constitution: How Do You Make a More Perfect Union?
- Revolutionary Tea Parties and the Reasons for Revolution
- American Memory Project (Library of Congress)
- Avalon Project at the Yale Law School
- Digital Classroom (National Archives and Records Administration)
Preamble to the Constitution
Courtesy of The National Archives.