On this day in 1787, Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the Constitution, by a vote of 46 to 23. Pennsylvania was the first large state to ratify, as well as the first state to endure a serious Anti-Federalist challenge to ratification.
If you didn’t already know, Professor Gordon Lloyd of Pepperdine University has created a website in collaboration with the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University on the Ratification of the Constitution. Professor Lloyd organizes the content on the Ratification in various ways on the website. One lesson plan has been created to align with the content of the “in doors” conversations of ratification. There are four main component parts to the “in doors” coverage on the website. 1) A Commentary that breaks down the “in house” ratification into The Six Stages of the Ratification of the Constitution. 2) Elliot’s Debates is the major source for learning what took place at the various state ratifying conventions. 3) We have provided a day-by-day summary of each of the three ratifying conventions Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York. This summary highlights the particular clauses of the Constitution that were under consideration on that day along with a synopsis of the main points that were made by the delegates. Each of the three Day-by-Day Summaries is preceded by a brief overview of the entire ratifying convention. 4) A set of individual Maps along with a comprehensive map that shows the location of Federalist and Antifederalist strength throughout the thirteen states.
The full lesson can be found here.
In 1953, the Abraham Lincoln Association published The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, a multi-volume set of Lincoln’s correspondence, speeches, and other writings. Roy P. Basler and his editorial staff, with the continued support of the association, spent five years transcribing and annotating Lincoln’s papers. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln represented the first major scholarly effort to collect and publish the complete writings of Abraham Lincoln, and the edition has remained an invaluable resource to Lincoln scholars. Through the efforts of the Abraham Lincoln Association, the edition is now available in electronic form.
Pearl Harbor Day is sadly fading from being commemorated in many U.S. classrooms. For students of the war the day still serves as an amazing event that truly placed the world into a war that would last for four more years and impact every continent. This interactive site from National Geographic illustrates the events of that infamous day in an extraordinary way.
The Battle of Fredericksburg by Kurz and Allison
The release of the cinematic masterpiece, Stephen Spielberg’s Lincoln, is a boon for history teachers nationwide. This movie will certainly be nominated for multiple Academy Awards and draw countless millions to theaters. Even middle and high school students have been caught up in the rush to see this mature, adult-targeted film. History teachers have a grand opportunity to capture the hype surrounding the movie to engage learners who otherwise may not be as accessible.
If you are a teacher that attempts to align your teaching calendar with anniversaries of historical events, you may want to use this renewed interest in all-things-Civil-War to utilize the Civil War Animated website. Coming soon, in mid-December, is the anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg. The Civil War Animated website is a tremendous tool for engaging learners. It not only provides poignant, relevant historical context of the war’s battles, but it also allows students to interact with animated battle maps. For your students that love military history (and even those who may loath it), there are very few websites constructed that can quite as effectively capture their attention
The website itself provides a brief statement highlighting historical context and battle outcomes:
Following the indecisive Battle of Antietam Creek, President Lincoln replaces General George McClellan with General Ambrose Burnside. Burnside immediately submits a plan to race Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to Fredericksburg and on to Richmond. Lincoln accepts the plan and the Army of the Potomac marches to Fredericksburg. But extremely poor planning causes the pontoon bridges for crossing the river to be left at the end of the baggage trains allowing to Lee to concentrate his army and prepare for Burnside’s assault.
After introducing students to the importance, context, and outcome of the battle, the teacher can then direct students to the animations of the battles, found here. Notice, the animation begins with another historical survey of the battle. After students have read and internalized this, the teacher can direct them to the actual battle maps. When students click on “Play,” the animations begin. The progress of the battle is then animated step-by-step, with helpful narratives displayed and sound effects included. Fittingly for a history class, the final scene provides excerpts from primary sources that gave contemporary commentary on the battle’s outcome.
Is it not amazing how a president can be very popular during his time and yet be evaluated downwards in subsequent years, as some have said of Eisenhower? Is it not equally amazing that some have been so pitifully unpopular that they decide to not run for reelection, as in the case of Truman in 1952 and LBJ in 1968?
Similarly, sometimes approval ratings mean nothing, electorally speaking, as Truman proved in 1948.
Presidential approval ratings have been tracked since 1941. The American Presidency Project from UC-Santa Barbara has compiled thorough listings of these statistics since FDR. The general index can be accessed here. To view each president’s ratings, simply click on their name in the drop-down box.
Additional statistics for job approval ratings can also be found through other links:
- Initial job approval ratings
- Approval ratings following the First 100 Days
- Final approval ratings
The American Presidency Project is a very detailed web resource for all manners of subjects related to the presidency. Put on by the University of California at Santa Barbara, this digital library covers topics ranging from presidential approval ratings to party platforms to White House staff budgets.
The upcoming election provides social studies teachers many opportunities for linking the present to the past. The American Presidency Project offers a detailed set of statistics for past presidential elections. By visiting this site, teachers and students can glean, compare, contrast, and analyze past presidential election electoral and popular vote tallies. Additionally, teachers and students can determine which way their own state went in that election, as each election year link has not only whether the state went red or blue that year, but it also has a break-down by state of how many electoral and popular votes went to each candidate.
1892 Electoral College Map
“I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.” --Harry S. Truman
With election season in high gear, many social studies teachers may be looking for ways to incorporate the campaigns into their classrooms. The University of Virginia’s Miller Center is an highly informative, nonpartisan resource that is very useful for analyzing presidential history.
The Miller Center contains its own blog on elections. Dubbed “Riding the Tiger,” this blog contains informative articles concerning past elections and this current one. It helps provide historical context for issues surfacing in 2012. From the Miller Center blog itself:
“Riding the Tiger looks at contemporary events through the lens of history. It frames the 2012 race by providing scholarly insight into policy and politics and featuring historical resources from the Miller Center’s digital archive.”
There are a couple links within this blog that are especially relevant and interesting. One site is called: “Greatest Hits from Democratic Conventions Since the Progressive Era.” A useful companion for teachers wishing to engage in compare/contrast activities would be: Greatest Hits in the Modern History of Republican Conventions.
Constitution Day is less than a month away. Check out some of these amazing resources for classroom use created by the Bill of Rights institute.
TeachingHistory.org provides this terrific lesson to help students learn to write more effective thesis statements. A great series of activities to help students develop stronger writing skills at the start of a new school year.
The “Valley of the Shadow” Project created by the Virginia Center for Digital History (University of Virginia) details life in two American communities from the time of John Brown’s raid through Reconstruction. The Northern community in Franklin County, Pennsylvania and its Southern cousin in Augusta County, Virginia provide unique perspectives from hundreds of people of Civil War era events. Students, Teachers, and fans of this time period can explore thousands of original letters, diaries, newspapers and speeches, and more from this unique archive.
In 1953, the Abraham Lincoln Association published The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, a multi-volume set of Lincoln’s correspondence, speeches, and other writings. Roy P. Basler and his editorial staff, with the continued support of the association, spent five years transcribing and annotating Lincoln’s papers. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln represented the first major scholarly effort to collect and publish the complete writings of Abraham Lincoln, and the edition has remained an invaluable resource to Lincoln scholars. Through the efforts of the Abraham Lincoln Association, the edition is now available in electronic form at the linked above site. These works can be searched using a variety of methods which will help teacher and student alike save time to more fully grasp Lincoln’s ideas.
Exploring Constitutional Law is a great resource for American Government Teachers and students. This site provides research links to better understand the operation of the Supreme Court, SCOTUS decisions, the Bill of Rights, and a tremendous amount of other material. For starters, see who you match up with by playing “Who Wants To Marry A Founding Father?”
Revolutionary War Animated is an extension of the interactive battle site History Animated. If your students are having trouble envisioning the dynamics of Bunker Hill, Brandywine, or Yorktown you might find it a helpful resource or extension. Be sure to allow for sound as the site has embedded battlesounds to heighten the experience.
Any study of or research project into WWII should include a stop at the Winston Churchill Centre and Museum. This incredible online resource for all things Churchill offers access to audio files of Churchill’s speeches, reviews of books on WWII and Churchill, updates on traveling exhibits, and materials for teachers. Remember to sign up for the Chartwell Bulletin and recieve monthly e-mail updates on Centre news.
No document is more central to securing “the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” than the United States Constitution, and no website is more thorough than ConstitutionOnline.com.
The Heritage Foundation has launched a new site, “The Heritage Guide to the Constitution,” a searchable reference tool revolving around the Constitution. “The Heritage Guide to the Constitution is intended to provide a brief and accurate explanation of each clause of the Constitution as envisioned by the Framers and as applied in contemporary law.” This new resource can compliment a lesson on the Constitution and is a great way to incorporate technology into your lesson. Check-out the Teacher Companion section of the site to see how this resource can be used in your classroom.