Monthly Archives: October 2015

We The People Webinar session 6


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The final session of the Foundation for Teaching the U.S. Constitution webinar took place on Tuesday, 27 October 2015, with Dr. Gordon Lloyd discussing the final Hearing Question and the challenges that face and are likely to face American Constitutional Democracy in the 21st Century.

Session 16: Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858

Prof. Allen Guelzo:  

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Contrast Lincoln’s understanding of the relation between public opinion and political rule with that of Stephen Douglas. What does Douglas mean by “diversity” and how does he use it to attack Lincoln’s alleged doctrine of “uniformity”? Why does Douglas think Lincoln is wrong to criticize the Dred Scott opinion? How does Lincoln answer Douglas’s charges? What does Lincoln mean by the “moral lights” of the community? In the second debate, how does Lincoln force Douglas into a quandary regarding popular sovereignty and support for the Dred Scott opinion? (See Douglas’s argument about “unfriendly legislation.”) In the seventh debate, what is Lincoln’s understanding of the Founders’ views regarding slavery? How does Lincoln show that the rhetoric of Douglas makes him a kind of abolitionist in practice?
Supplemental/Optional Readings:

Program Report: “Civil Disobedience” Seminar in Bartow, Florida

On Saturday, October 24th, teachers from Central Florida gathered in the 1902 Historic County Courthouse in Bartow for a Seminar on Civil Disobedience led by Dr. David Alvis. An interesting topic which explored America’s founding and it’s roots in civil disobedience. What does civil disobedience mean? How far can a person or group act upon their convictions before it deemed not civil?

This seminar’s three sessions began with John Locke’s “Two Treatises” and the “Declaration of Independence”. Was the American Revolution “revolutionary” or merely a “war for independence” when compared to the French or Russian Revolutions? The second session considered Henry David Thoreau’s idea of conscientious disobedience, that a person is morally obligated to act upon any repugnant injustice or law, regardless of the outcome. However, with that idea came events like John Brown acting on his own moral authority to murder in the name of justice. Juxtapose Thoreau’s writings with Abraham Lincoln’s “Lyceum Address” and he warns of the dangers with “mobocracy” and the need for rule of law at all times. Our third session compared Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” writings to Malcolm X “The Ballot of the Bullet”. Overall, this was a very thought provoking day.

You may access the seminar materials for this program here.

If you would like to find a program like this in your area, please click here.

New iTunes U Course: Federalist-Antifederalist Debates

The latest in’s 24/7 course options, this 4-hour program is about the Federalist-Antifederalist debates that took place across the country after September 1787 and produced some of the most thoughtful, detailed accounts, analyses, and debates of and about the Constitution and the government its supporters sought to create.

As with’s other iTunes U courses, this offers automatic enrollment is self-paced, and at this point users will need an iOS device (iPad or iPhone) to access the course materials.

The Federalist-Antifederalist Debates

Program Report: Vietnam War Seminar in West Palm Beach, FL

On Saturday, October 17th, Palm Beach County School District hosted a One-Day Seminar on The Vietnam War. Dr. Will Atto from the University of Dallas led the discussion on this complicated and controversial modern American event. Participants discussed Diem’s rise to power and the American policy. Readings included pieces from John F. Kennedy, Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara, and Henry Cabot Lodge.  The conversation segued to the Tet Offensive and considered the impact the Tet Offensive had on American opinion, the media, politics, the war effort as well as the military morale. The last session of the seminar focused on Nixon’s “Peace with Honor”, Vietnamization, and the lasting legacy the Vietnam War had on a generation of Americans.

W Palm Beach 2015.10.17


We The People Webinar: Session 4


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13 October 2015 saw the 4th session of the joint webinar series between and the Center for Civic Education’s We the People program, hosted by Dr. Gordon Lloyd. This session focused on the State Hearing questions from Unit 4, which leads off with “How have the values and principles embodied in the Constitution shaped American institutions and practices?”

Session 15: Lincoln Confronts Stephen Douglas’s Popular Sovereignty

Prof. Allen Guelzo:  

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What does Stephen Douglas mean by “popular sovereignty”? Why does Lincoln view the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 as a reversal of American policy towards domestic slavery? How does “indifference” about the spread of slavery amount to “covert real zeal” for its spread? How does Lincoln justify previous national compromises with slavery? What is Lincoln’s definition of self-government and how does it inform his political rhetoric and policy proposals? What is Lincoln’s definition of democracy? What role does Lincoln think the Declaration of Independence plays in contemporary political practice? Why does Lincoln advise against a Republican call for repeal of the fugitive slave law? What connection does Lincoln make between liberty, union, and the Constitution?

Program Report: Truman Weekend in Independence, MO


Teachers in the White House Decision Center hosted two groups of teachers – a total of 37 – from across the country for a Weekend Colloquium at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, MO, 16-18 October 2015. Focusing on Truman’s actions and challenges during the early years of the Cold War, teachers had an opportunity to study primary documents related to the first years after World War 2, Soviet espionage abroad and in America, and how Truman and his administration managed the impact of the Cold War on the American public.

In addition to the discussion sessions, teachers visited the Truman Library’s White House Decision Center and took part in a documents-based roleplay/simulation about Truman’s desegregation the Armed Forces in 1948, and were then able to tour the museum. Teachers: if ever you have the chance to visit the Truman Library with students, it’s worth the effort. The WDC staff and simulation were excellent – well-organized and entirely primary documents-based, making for a rich and thoughtful learning experience. They have programs for both adults and students.

The picture above  shows teachers in the role of Harry Truman giving a press conference in which the decision to desegregate the military is announced, explained, and defended to the press corps.

Now Accepting Spring 2016 Weekend Colloquia Applications

Are you ready to reignite your passion for teaching American history and government? is proud to offer elite programs to social studies and civic teacher from across the country.’s Weekend Colloquia at Historic Sites allows teachers to explore in-depth the people and ideas you are asked to teach, at the historic sites that help illuminate the subject. We want to help you increase your expertise and develop the content knowledge needed to educate your students.

Application Deadline: Sunday, November 1st, 2015

Click here to get more details about locations for Spring and to apply.

Webinar: Religious Liberty and the Courts


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A 75-minute discussion between scholars with a live teacher audience, this program explores the impact of several key US Supreme Court cases on the definition and limits of religious liberty in America, originally broadcast on 3 October 2015.

Jeff Sikkenga (Ashland University) and Matthew Franck (Witherspoon Institute) will discuss three recent Supreme Court cases that dealt with religion: Burwell v. Hobby Lobby; Abercrombie and Fitch v. the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; and Holt v. Hobbs.

In the Hobby Lobby case the court ruled that closely-held for profit companies were exempt from provisions of the Affordable Care Act that violated the religious beliefs of the companies owners. The Court’s opinion may be found here.

The Abercrombie case concerned the decision of Abercrombie and Fitch not to hire someone because they wore a head scarf, which violated the company’s dress code.  The court ruled that the job applicant did not have to specifically ask for the company to accommodate her religious practice (the head scarf) in order for the job applicant to be protected by Title VII’s prohibition on the basis of religion. The Court’s opinion may be found here.

In Hobbs v. Holt, the Court ruled that prison authorities could not prevent an inmate from growing a beard for religious reasons because doing so violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.  The Court’s decision may be found here.

Matthew J. Franck is the Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute, Princeton, New Jersey.  He is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Radford University, in Radford, Virginia, where he taught constitutional law, American politics, and political philosophy from 1989 to 2010, was Chairman of the  Department of Political Science from 1995 to 2010, and received the Radford University Foundation Award for Creative Scholarship in 2001.  He is also Visiting Lecturer in Politics at Princeton University.

Jeffrey Sikkenga is professor of political science at Ashland University, adjunct fellow of the John M. Ashbrook Center and senior fellow in the Program on Constitutionalism and Democracy at the University of Virginia. He has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in political thought, the American Founding and American constitutional law. He is deeply interested in the relationship between politics and religion in liberal democracy and America in particular.

This Webinar is the second in a series of three on Religion in American History and Politics.  The third will occur March 12, 2016.  David Tucker and Stephen Knott will discuss the views of Jefferson and Hamilton on religion and politics.

Session 14: Abolitionism and Constitutional Self-Government

Prof. Allen Guelzo:  

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According to Garrison, what is wrong with gradual abolition of slavery? Does he think the Constitution is pro-freedom or pro-slavery? Why does Garrison not endorse political reform as the cure for the nation’s ills? What is the key principle that Lincoln proposes for the “fusion” of various political interests into a new party? Contrast Lincoln’s approach to eliminating slavery with Garrison’s. What does Lincoln mean by comparing America to “a house divided against itself”? What is Frederick Douglass’s view of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution? Does he view blacks in the United States as Americans? What do blacks in America need to flourish as human beings and as citizens? Why is Lincoln not an abolitionist?
Supplemental/Optional Readings:
  • Jaffa, Crisis of the House Divided, chaps. 7-8
  • Diana Schaub, “Frederick Douglass’s Constitution”

American Presidents: Andrew Jackson


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Andrew Jackson was the focus of Saturday, October 10th’s American Presidents webinar, moderated by Chris Burkett and featuring Jeremy Bailey and Jace Weaver as panelists, with a live teacher audience of over 80. Of particular interest was Jackson’s balance between executive power and his support of states’ rights – something that is often difficult to reconcile. During the discussion two books were mentioned as being particularly good resources for information about Jackson: Presidential Greatness, which has a chapter about Jackson; and Andrew Jackson, by Robert Remini.

We The People Webinar: Session 3


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In this third session of our joint webinar series with the Center for Civic Education, Dr. Gordon Lloyd discusses the relationship the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, and how the Civil War amendments and their impact over time have changed interpretations and understanding of the original document and American Founding.

We The People Webinar: Session 2


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Session 2 of and the Center for Civic Education’s joint webinar series about the creation and meaning of the United States Constitution. In this 75-minute program, Dr. Gordon Lloyd discusses the actual framing of the Constitution, including his thoughts on the Articles of Confederation and their failures; the New Jersey and Virginia plans and their comparative merits; and the ratification debate. is a project of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University

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