We the Teachers

Session 9: The Proposed Constitution of 1787 and Its Defense in The Federalist Papers

Dr. Chris Flannery:  

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Focus
What is the structure of the argument of The Federalist? What improvements in “the science of politics” did Publius think necessary to make the republican form of government defensible? What isFederalist 10′s republican remedy for the problem of faction? What are the defects of the Confederation, according to Publius? Why is there “an absolute necessity for an entire change in the first principles of the system”? What “inducements to candor” and to the “spirit of moderation” does Publius present in Federalist 37-38? What were the difficulties “inherent in the very nature of the undertaking referred to the [constitutional] Convention”? What are (some of) the ingredients of republican government? Of good government? How is the proposed government both federal and national according to Publius in Federalist 39? How, in Federalist40, does Publius answer the question of “how far the conventions were authorized to propose such a government”?
Readings

Session 8: The Constitution and American Self-Government

Dr. Lucas Morel:  

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Focus

How does the Constitution work? How do constitutional means produce constitutional ends? How do the principles of the regime work their way into the mechanisms of the federal government? What role does public opinion play in constitutional self-government?

Saturday Webinar: George Washington

 

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We kicked off the 2015-16 season of TAH.org’s Saturday Webinars with George Washington, father of our country, and a discussion of his person, times, and the challenges America faced in its first years as a republic. Read the documents and view a YouTube archive of the discussion – attended by over 100 teachers right here.

Session 7: The Constitutional Convention pt3 – The Committee of Detail Report and the Close of the Convention

Prof. Gordon Lloyd:  

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Focus

Who was elected to the Committee of Detail and what has been their position so far with respect to the republican and federal issues? How does the Committee on Detail Report differ from the original and amended Virginia Plans and what significant recommendations did it make? Who was elected to the Slave Trade Committee and what had they said about slavery up to that point? How did the slavery provisions undergo changes during the deliberations?

The Bill of Rights: A Comprehensive Course

TeachingAmericanHistory.org’s Dr. Gordon Lloyd, author of the Online Exhibits on the American Founding, is the presenter of six one-hour lectures on the Bill of Rights, from its historical roots to ratification. TAH.org now offers these lectures, and associated primary documents, as an iTunes U course, which you can access here. You’ll need an iOS device to experience the interface as it’s been designed; however, you can access the videos and all of Dr. Lloyd’s online content at the Bill of Rights exhibit on TAH.org.

Religious Liberty and the American Founding

 

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George Washington’s Letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, RI is perhaps the best expression of the spirit of religious liberty that shaped the new American republic.  August of 2015 is the 225th anniversary of its composition, and our webinar on 22 AUG was in celebration of this important moment in American history.

In addition to Washington’s letter, scholars and teachers discussed Madison’s “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments” and the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.  All three documents may be found in 50 Core American Documents: Required Reading for Students, Teachers and Citizens.

For the story behind the letter and additional information about it, please visit the web site of the George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom.

Session 6: The Constitutional Convention pt2 – The Connecticut Compromise

Prof. Gordon Lloyd:  

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Focus

What accounts for the persistence of the New Jersey Plan supporters despite their defeat earlier? What are the arguments against the “legality” and “practicality” of the Amended Virginia Plan? When and how did the Connecticut Compromise emerge as a viable alternative? How did the “partly national, partly federal” concept enter the discussion? Why did Madison argue that the issue facing the delegates was not small states vs. large states but the slavery question? What is the significance of who was elected to the Gerry Committee? Who changed their minds and why during this month long discussion over representation? Who favored and who opposed the Connecticut Compromise? What else, besides the representation issue, was discussed during this part of the Convention?

Session 5: The Constitutional Convention, pt1 – The Alternative Plans

Lecture, Prof. Gordon Lloyd:  

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Focus

Of what significance were the rules adopted by the Convention? In what respects did the Virginia Plan represent a new constitution rather than a mere revision of the Articles? What were delegates’ initial reactions and questions concerning the Virginia Plan? What parts of the Plan were rejected or amended? What did the delegates mean when they spoke of a national government as opposed to a federal government? What different principles animate the New Jersey and Virginia Plans and the Hamilton Proposal? Why were they even introduced? What are the arguments for representation of the states, as opposed to the people, in the federal government? Consider the discussions of the executive power, bicameralism, and the role of the judiciary in the context of “republican principles.” What do “republican principles” say about the sources of power, the powers, and the structure of the federal government? Is Madison’s extended republic argument a departure from republican principles?

Session 4: The Revolutionary Era

Lecture, Dr. David Hackett Fischer:  

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Focus

How did the American colonists define liberty and freedom as they sought to secure their independence from mother England? During the Revolutionary War, what difficulties did the Americans face in fighting for liberty while maintaining the supremacy of civilian over military authority?
Readings
  • Fischer, Washington’s Crossing

Session 3: The American Mind, Part 2

Lecture, Dr. Lucas Morel:  

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Focus

The political logic of the argument of the Declaration, continued: Further reflections on the course of human events, people, the laws of nature and of nature’s God, decent respect for the opinions of mankind, self evident truths, equality, rights, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, consent, prudence, the ends of government, the right to abolish government and institute new government, facts submitted to a candid world, sacred honor, and more.

The 15th Amendment: Providing the Vote

 

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On 21 July, NCSS and TAH.org hosted the last of three episodes in their joint Summer Webinar Series about the Reconstruction amendments. Professor Scott Yenor discussed with a group of teachers the reasoning behind the 15th Amendment, different ideas about how to achieve its goal, and the resulting impact of access to the vote – real or imagined – by African-Americans over time. You can download a copy of the slideshow here, and the reading packet for the entire series here.

Session 2: The American Mind, Part 1

Lecture, Dr. Chris Flannery:  

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Focus

Thomas Jefferson wrote that in drafting the Declaration of Independence he meant to give expression to “the American mind.” What does the Declaration tell us about the American mind as it related to the foundations, forms, and purposes of the newly sovereign United States? What is the political logic of the argument of the Declaration? What is the philosophical and historical heritage on which the Declaration draws? Reflections on the course of human events, people, the laws of nature and of nature’s God, decent respect for the opinions of mankind, self evident truths, equality, rights, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, consent, prudence, the ends of government, the right to abolish government and institute new government, facts submitted to a candid world, sacred honor, and more.
Readings

Session 1: Intro and the “Apple of Gold”: – The Centrality of the Declaration of Independence in American Political Life

Introduction, Dr. Peter Schramm:  

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Part 1, Dr. Chris Flannery:  

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Part 2: Dr. Lucas Morel:  

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Focus

Why is it important to understand the Declaration of Independence? What does the Declaration say, and why and how does it say it? What does the Declaration not say, and why and how does it not say it? What is the significance of Jefferson’s draft of the Declaration? What does the Declaration mean, and what does the Declaration not mean?

Standards-Based Search Tool for Our Documents Library

TeachingAmericanHistory.org is very happy to announce the launch of our Standards Search Tool for our Documents Library. You can now search for standards by type (Social Studies or Common Core ELA for History), state, and grade level and get lists of documents that are relevant to teaching them. You can also select a specific document and see which standards are most appropriate to it. A short how-to page is here, and you’ll see the interface for the tool on any document page – like this one - on both the right side of the screen and on the ‘Academic Standards’ tab right above the text of the document.

The 13th Amendment: The Beginning of a Constitutional Revolution?

Professor Scott Yenor:   

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On the evening of 7 July, 2015, TeachingAmericanHistory.org and the National Council for the Social Studies presented the first of three webinars in a series based around the three Reconstruction Amendments. Professor Scott Yenor, of Boise State University, worked with a group of teachers from across the country to consider the constitutional, legal, and practical issues surrounding the 13th Amendment. Did the amendment represent a departure from constitutional precedent, or a culmination of it? How was the question of slavery dealt with as a constitutional and legal issue through this amendment? Were the Reconstruction amendments truly a coherent ‘package,’ as often portrayed? These questions and others were addressed in detail using this documents packet and this slideshow. Download those files and follow along with the attached podcast.

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