We the Teachers

Presidential Academy: The Gettysburg Address and the Civil War

TeachingAmericanHistory.org is proud to offer the second part of our Presidential Academy documents-based survey course of American history and American political thought through iTunesU, iTunes, and this blog.

This segment of the course, consisting of 12 sessions, focuses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, with the ideas expressed in the Gettysburg Address at the foundation of study. The first session in this part of the course will be posted on Tuesday, 29 September.

Presidential Academy was a grant-funded program that TAH.org presented to groups of teachers who met and studied in three cities over two weeks, with discussions rooted in three separate documents. The first days were in Philadelphia, beginning with the American Founding, through the Declaration of Independence. Additional documents and ideas were addressed and analyzed throughout the several sessions there before the group moved on to Gettysburg and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Finally, the group moved to Washington, D.C., and study of modern America, with Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech as the focal point.

Each session is made up of a set of readings, all linked from its blog post, and usually one lecture. Guiding questions and focus issues are at the foundation of each week’s study. A list of the session titles for Part 2 of the course is below, along with the dates on which each will be published on this blog, and the audio made available through iTunes. You can subscribe to our iTunes Podcast feed by clicking here. The entire course, divided into the three major sections – Philadelphia, Gettysburg, and Washington – is already available on iTunesU.

Session 12: Lincoln and 21st-Century America, 29 SEP
Session 13: The Rule of Law, Slavery, and the Future of Self-Government, 6 OCT
Session 14: Abolitionism and Constitutional Self-Government, 13 OCT
Session 15: Lincoln Confronts Stephen Douglas’s Popular Sovereignty, 20 OCT
Session 16: Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858, 27 OCT
Session 17: The Causes of the Civil War, 3 NOV
Session 18: The Rights and Wrongs of Secession, 10 NOV
Session 19: Lincoln’s Election, Secession, and the Civil War, 17 NOV
Session 20: Lincoln and Civil Liberties, 24 NOV
Session 21: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, 1 DEC
Session 22: “A New Birth of Freedom” and Lincoln’s Re-Election, 8 DEC
Session 23: Frederick Douglass – Reconstruction and the Future of Black Americans, 15 DEC

We invite you to deepen your knowledge of American history through this series, and use these materials in any way that will benefit you and your students.

The Constitutional Convention as a Four-Act Drama: Act 3

 

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This course consists of four session, each rooted in a video presentation by Dr. Lloyd in front of a teacher audience, focused on a specific topic and drawing from a selection of relevant documents.
Each session’s post includes a list of Scenes within the given Act, with dates listed within each Scene – this helps expand on the metaphor of the Constitutional Convention as a drama. Most every day includes a link to information about what happened on that day, mostly drawn from Madison’s Debates, the most comprehensive and accurate record of the Convention.
As you watch the video for each session, take notes on Dr. Lloyd’s insights about the Convention, the contributions of different delegates, topics discussed, and decisions made. Then expand on your notes by going through the different documents linked from the post. This way, you’ll learn directly from Dr. Lloyd, and you’ll clearly see where his ideas are found in the documents.
Scene 1: The Structure and Powers of Congress
  • August 6 Twenty-Three Articles presented
  • August 7 Article IV and the suffrage issue
  • August 8 Article IV deliberated
  • August 9 Article V dissected
  • August 10 Article VI and Pinckney’s property qualifications
  • August 11 Article VI continued
  • August 13 Reconsideration day and Dickinson’s remark on experience
  • August 14 Article VI and ineligibility
  • August 15 Reintroduction of Council of Revision
  • August 16 Deliberation of the Enumeration of Congressional powers
  • August 17 Deliberation of the Enumeration of Congressional powers
  • August 18 Creation of the Committee of 11
  • August 20 Article VII and the Issue of Rights
Scene 2: The Slavery Question and Creation of the Judiciary
Scene 3: Adoption of the Report; Creation of Brearly Committee

Session 11: The Federalist Papers – Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches

Dr. Chris Flannery:  

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Focus

What qualities did Publius expect or take for granted in the American people who would be living under the proposed new constitution? In what ways was the constitution a response to these qualities? What qualities did Publius expect in the people who would serve respectively in the House of Representatives, the Senate, the office of President, and the Supreme Court? How did the functioning of each of these branches and of the constitution as a whole involve the operation of these qualities? What are the relations of the composition, powers, mode of selection, and tenure of office of the House of Representatives, Senate, Executive, and Judiciary to the political purposes these offices were meant to serve and to the overall purposes to be served by the constitution? How, in particular, do any of these elements contribute to the effective functioning of the separation of powers?
Readings

“American Founding” Seminar in Orlando

Teachers from the greater Orlando, Florida area gathered to celebrate Constitution Week at the Osceola History Museum for a seminar on the American Founding. This seminar discussed the principles of the American Founding and the documents that embody those principles, especially the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Federalist Papers. Participants also spent time discussing Alexis de Tocqueville’s visit to America and his view of American Exceptionalism, Patriotism, and Democracy.

2015.09.19 Orlando-FL
Teaching the Federalist Papers to high school students can be daunting, yet Dr. Eric Sands had a unique way of presenting the difficult concepts of Federalist #10, #47, and #51 in such a manner that educators said they felt “more at ease in conveying the material to my students”.  When the seminar concluded, attendees were given the opportunity to enjoy the Osceola History Museum.

If you would like to attend a seminar like this, please click here to view our schedule of programs across the country.

The Constitutional Convention as a Four-Act Drama: Act 2

 

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This course consists of four session, each rooted in a video presentation by Dr. Lloyd in front of a teacher audience, focused on a specific topic and drawing from a selection of relevant documents.
Each session’s post includes a list of Scenes within the given Act, with dates listed within each Scene – this helps expand on the metaphor of the Constitutional Convention as a drama. Most every day includes a link to information about what happened on that day, mostly drawn from Madison’s Debates, the most comprehensive and accurate record of the Convention.
As you watch the video for each session, take notes on Dr. Lloyd’s insights about the Convention, the contributions of different delegates, topics discussed, and decisions made. Then expand on your notes by going through the different documents linked from the post. This way, you’ll learn directly from Dr. Lloyd, and you’ll clearly see where his ideas are found in the documents.
Scene 1: Derailment over Representation of States and People
  • June 20 John Lansing questions legality of the Amended Plan
  • June 21 Specifics of House Representation discussed
  • June 22 Specifics of House Representation discussed
  • June 23 Ineligibility requirements for members of Congress
  • June 25 The purpose of the Senate
  • June 26 Specifics of Senate Representation discussed
  • June 27 Resolutions 7 and 8 discussed
  • June 28 Luther Martin resumes his “discourse” on the role of the States
Scene 2: Contours of Compromise: Partly Federal, Partly National
  • June 29 Ellsworth: “we were partly national; partly federal”
  • June 30 Loose talk of division and disunion
  • July 2 Creation of the Gerry Committee
Scene 3: Independence Day Contemplation
  • July 4 “When in the Course of Human Events”
Scene 4: The Gerry Committee Compromise Proposal Discussed
  • July 5 The Compromise Proposal has three components
  • July 6 Debating the merits of proportional representation
  • July 7 Sherman reinforces case for equal representation of States in Senate
  • July 9 Distributing 56 seats in the House to the 13 States
  • July 10 North – South, Large – Small discussion
  • July 11 The census and representation
  • July 12 “Blacks equal to the whites in the ratio of representation?”
  • July 13 Representation in the SenateConfederation Congress Passes the Northwest Ordinance
  • July 14 Does partly national, partly federal make sense?
Scene 5: Decision Day on the Connecticut Compromise
  • July 16 Connecticut Compromise accepted (5 – 4 – 1)
Scene 6: Return to the Amended Virginia Plan; Committee of Detail Created
  • July 17 The Supreme Law of the Land and the Presidency
  • July 18 Discussion of Resolutions 11 – 16
  • July 19 Reconsideration of the Presidency
  • July 20 More disputation over the Presidency
  • July 21 The Council of Revision revisited
  • July 23 Resolutions 17 – 19 debated
  • July 24 Controversy over the Presidency
  • July 25 More discussion on the Presidency
  • July 26 Constitutional Convention adjourns with the creation of a 5 member Committee of Detail

Session 10: The Federalist Papers – The Sum of Power and the Separation of Powers

Dr. Lucas Morel:  

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Focus

What is “delicate” about the two questions raised at the end ofFederalist 43? “The time has been when it was incumbent on us all to veil the ideas which this paragraph exhibits. The scene is now changed, and with it, the part which the same motives dictate.” What does Publius mean by this last sentence in the penultimate paragraph of 43? What articles and clauses of the Constitution are discussed in 43 and 44? How, in Federalist 43, does Publius defend the Convention’s proposal to supersede the Confederation “without the unanimous consent of the parties to it”?
Why, in the American representative republic, should the people “indulge all their jealousy and exhaust all their precautions” against the legislative branch? What are Publius’ criticisms of Thomas Jefferson’s suggestions for maintaining the separation of powers? Why does Publius think that it is necessary to have the “prejudices of the community” on the side of even the most rational government?  What kinds of prejudices is he thinking of? “[I]t is the reason of the public alone that ought to controul and regulate the government. The passions ought to be controuled and regulated by the government.” How does Publius reconcile this principle with the republican principle that government “derives all its powers directly or indirectly from…the people”? Why would “an extinction of parties necessarily [imply] either a universal alarm for the public safety, or an absolute extinction of liberty”? What is the principle of separation of powers? What is the greatest threat in the American republic to separation of powers, and why is this the greatest threat?
Readings

The Constitutional Convention as a Four-Act Drama: Act 1

 

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This course consists of four session, each rooted in a video presentation by Dr. Lloyd in front of a teacher audience, focused on a specific topic and drawing from a selection of relevant documents.
Each session’s post includes a list of Scenes within the given Act, with dates listed within each Scene – this helps expand on the metaphor of the Constitutional Convention as a drama. Most every day includes a link to information about what happened on that day, mostly drawn from Madison’s Debates, the most comprehensive and accurate record of the Convention.
As you watch the video for each session, take notes on Dr. Lloyd’s insights about the Convention, the contributions of different delegates, topics discussed, and decisions made. Then expand on your notes by going through the different documents linked from the post. This way, you’ll learn directly from Dr. Lloyd, and you’ll clearly see where his ideas are found in the documents.
Scene 1: Prologue
  • May 14 Constitutional Convention lacks necessary quorum
  • May 21 Connecticut selects three delegates (William Johnson, Roger Sherman, and Oliver Ellsworth)
  • May 25 Constitutional Convention meets quorum requirement
  • May 28 Committee on Rules Reports rules for Convention
Scene 2: The 15 Resolutions of the Virginia Plan
  • May 29 Virginia Plan introduced and defended by Edmund Randolph
Scene 3: First Discussion of the Virginia Plan
  • May 30 Resolution 1 amended
  • May 31 Resolutions 2 – 6 discussed and 5a defeated
  • June 1 Debated and postponed Resolution 7 on the Presidency
  • June 2 Further lengthy deliberation of Resolution 7
  • June 4 Council of Revision clause of Resolution 8 postponed
  • June 5 Consideration of Resolutions 9 – 15
Scene 4: Madison-Sherman Exchange
  • June 6 Are people “more happy in small than large States?” Should Resolution 4a be adopted?
Scene 5: Second Discussion of the Virginia Plan
  • June 7 How to fill “the chasm” created by defeat of Resolution 5a
  • June 8 Resolution 6 and the negative on State laws
  • June 9 Reconsideration of Resolution 7
Scene 6: The 19 Resolutions of the Amended Virginia Plan
  • June 11 Popular representation in both branches? Sherman’s compromise
  • June 12 The specifics of representation
  • June 13 Virginia Plan amended
Scene 7: The 9 Resolutions of the New Jersey Plan Discussed
  • June 14 John Dickinson to Madison: “you see the consequences of pushing things too far.”
  • June 15 New Jersey Plan introduced
  • June 16 The plan is “legal” and “practical”
Scene 8: The 11 Resolutions of Hamilton’s Plan Presented
  • June 18 Neither the Virginia Plan nor the New Jersey Plan is adequate to secure “good government”
Scene 9: Decision Day: Adoption of the Amended Virginia Plan
  • June 19 New Jersey Plan rejected (3 – 7 – 1)

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

Constitution Day is Thursday, September 17th! 

Are you ready with lessons and resources that will help your students learn about this document and its history, meaning, and importance?

TeachingAmericanHistory.org has a diverse selection of documents, lessons, and other resources that will help you help your students. To kick of Constitution Month, we’re starting with the most obvious: the Constitution itself.

We will be posting resources daily, Monday through Friday, on our Facebook page – TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Join the Constitution Month conversation with your fellow teachers by following our Facebook page.

You’ll notice at that link a few interesting things. First, there is the document itself. Along with it is a short summary that establishes the historical context and meaning of the document. There are also some guiding questions for the document. Next the Summary tab is one that provides a scholar-curated list of related documents. Finally, the Academic Standards tab enables you to search for state academic content standards for Social Studies and the Common Core ELA standards for History and Social Studies, by grade level.

const

To accompany the document itself and those documents related to it, take a look at our new lesson plan archive, on Share My Lesson, a project of the American Federation of Teachers.

In our next Constitution Month email we’ll highlight some multimedia resources that you and your students can use to learn about the Convention of 1787.

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?

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