Weekly outline

  • Site Key

      InfoAdditional Information     videoVideo     

      Audio    digDigging Deeper           translatorTranslator       toolsMiscellaneous Tool

  • Shays’s Rebellion

    translator

    In 1881, the colonies adopted the Articles of Confederation—a document that bound them into the United States of America. Since the colonists were fighting to free themselves from monarchical rule, they created a very weak central government. Under the Articles of Confederation, the federal government could not tax, could not make laws that would be binding in all 13 states, had no executive branch, and could not raise a national army.

    Shays’s Rebellion was a violent protest held by farmers in western Massachusetts. You will learn more about it by reading the first document below, an excerpt from a recent U.S. History textbook. According to the textbook, Shays’s Rebellion made Americans realize that they needed a stronger government. As you read that documents that follow, try to understand the connection between Shays’s Rebellion and the Articles of Confederation and then determine whether all Americans drew the same lessons from the Rebellion.

    bookShays’s Rebellion – The American Vision

    Source: An account of Shays’s Rebellion excerpted from The American Vision, a high school U.S. History textbook published in 2003.

    Shay’s Rebellion

    The property owners’ fears seemed justified when a full-scale rebellion, known as Shays’s Rebellion, erupted in Massachusetts in 1786. The rebellion started when the government of Massachusetts decided to raise taxes instead of issuing paper money to pay off its debts. The taxes fell most heavily on farmers, particularly poor farmers in the western part of the state. As the recession grew worse, many found it impossible to pay their taxes as well as their mortgages and other debts. Those who could not pay often faced the loss of their farms.

    Angry at the legislature’s indifference to their plight, in late August 1786, farmers in western Massachusetts rebelled. They closed down several county courthouses to prevent farm foreclosures, and then marched on the state supreme court. At this point, Daniel Shays, a former captain in the Continental Army who was now a bankrupt farmer, emerged as one of the rebellion’s leaders.

    In January 1787, Shays and about 1,200 farmers headed to a state arsenal intending to seize weapons before marching on Boston. In response, the governor sent more than 4,000 volunteers under the command of General Benjamin Lincoln to defend the arsenal. Before they arrived, Shays attacked, and the militia defending the arsenal opened fire. Four farmers died in the fighting. The rest scattered. The next day Lincoln’s troops arrived and ended the rebellion. The fears the rebellion had raised, however, were harder to disperse.

    A Call for Change

    People with greater income and social status tended to see the rebellion, as well as inflation and an unstable currency, as signs that the republic itself was at risk. They feared that as state legislatures became more democratic and responsive to poor people, they would weaken property rights and vote to take property from the wealthy. As General Henry Knox, a close aide to George Washington, concluded: “What is to afford our security against the violence of lawless men? Our government must be braced, changed, or altered to secure our lives and property.”

    These concerns were an important reason why many people, including merchants, artisans, and creditors, began to argue for a stronger central government, and several members of the Confederation Congress called on the states to correct “such defects as may be discovered to exist” in the present government. The confederation’s failure to deal with conditions that might lead to rebellion, as well as the problems with trade and diplomacy, only added fuel to their argument.

    translator

    questions

    Questions:

    1. Sourcing: What kind of document is this? When was it written?
    2. Close Reading: According to this document, how was Shays’s rebellion related to the Articles of Confederation?
    3. Close Reading:According to this document, how did people respond to Shays’s Rebellion?

    letterThomas Jefferson on Shays’ Rebellion

    Source: Thomas Jefferson was in France during Shays’ Rebellion, but he wrote a letter to a friend about it.

    Paris, November 13, 1787

    The British have so long hired their newspapers to repeat every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, and we have believed them ourselves. Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Shays’ rebellion? God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion.

    What country before ever existed without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let the people take arms. The remedy is to present them with the facts, pardon and pacify them.

    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure. Our Constitutional Convention has [made too much of Shays’ rebellion]: and in the spur of the moment [I believe they are over-reacting].

    translator

    vocabularyVocabulary

    Anarchy
    chaos;confusion and disorder
    Remedy
    cure
    Pardon
    forgive
    Pacify
    calm down
    Manure
    fertilizer

    questions

    Questions:

    1. Sourcing: Who wrote this document? What else do you know about his views on a strong central government?
    2. Contextualization: According to Jefferson, have the colonies been peaceful or chaotic? Support your answer with evidence from the document.
    3. Close Reading: What does Jefferson mean when he says “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants?”

    Section Questions

    1. Opening Up the Textbook: How does this document challenge or expand the information you read in the textbook?

    material provided from http://www.ck12.org/saythanks

    • Federalists and Anti-Federalists

      translator

      In 1787, the states sent delegates to the Constitutional Convention, where they debated and wrote the new Constitution. Two camps developed—Federalists who favored a strong central government and Anti-Federalists, who favored a weak one. The Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, were strongest among Northerners, city dwellers, and merchants. The Anti-Federalists, including Thomas Jefferson, included more Southerners and farmers. The documents below show the Federalist and Anti-Federalist positions on Congressional representation and the impact of the new Constitution upon the states.

      speechFederalist Position on Congressional Representation – Alexander Hamilton

      Source: Speech by Alexander Hamilton, June 21, 1788

      The Antifederalists seem to think that a pure democracy would be the perfect government. Experience has shown that this idea is false. The ancient democracies of Greece were characterized by tyranny and run by mobs.

      The Antifederalists also argue that a large representation is necessary to understand the interests of the people. This is not true. Why can’t someone understand thirty [thousand] people as well as he understands twenty people?

      The new constitution does not make a rich man more eligible for an elected office than a poor person. I also think it’s dangerous to assume that men become more wicked as they gain wealth and education. Look at all the people in a community, the rich and the poor, the educated and the ignorant. Which group has higher moral standards? Both groups engage in immoral or wicked behavior. But it would seem to me that the wealthy overall have the advantage. Their immoral behavior often benefits the general wealth of the country, and it’s less wicked and sinful.

      questions

      Question:

      1. What type of Congressional representation did the federalists prefer? Why?

      translator

      speechAnti-Federalist Position on Representation in Congress – Melancton Smith

      Source: Speech by Melancton Smith, delivered June 21, 1788.

      Representatives should be a true picture of the people. They should understand their circumstances and their troubles. Therefore, the number of representatives should be so large that both rich and poor people will choose to be representatives.

      If the number of representatives is small, the position will be too competitive. Ordinary people will not attempt to run for office. A middle-class yeoman (farmer) will never be chosen. So, the government will fall into the hands of the few and the rich. This will be a government of oppression.

      The rich consider themselves above the common people, entitled to more respect. They believe they have the right to get anything they want.

      questions

      Questions:

      1. What kind of Congressional representation did the Anti-Federalists favor? Why?

      Section Question:

      1. Which argument do you find more convincing, Federalist or Anti-Federalist?

      speechFederalist Position on State/Federal Power – Alexander Hamilton

      Source: Speech given by Alexander Hamilton, June 28, 1788

      The Antifederalists argue that the federal government should not be allowed to tax the people because it will take everything it can get.

      It is unfair to presume that the representatives of the people will be tyrants in the federal government, but not in the state government. If we are convinced that the federal government will pass laws that go against the interests of the people, then we should have no federal government at all. But if we unite, we can accomplish great things.

      I must finally say that I resent the implication that I am only interested in rank and power. What reasonable man would establish a system that would reduce his friends and children to slavery and ruin?

      No reasonable man would want to establish a government that is unfriendly to the liberty of the people. Do not assume, gentlemen, that the advocates of this Constitution are motivated by their ambition. It is an unjust and uncharitable view.

      questions

      Question:

      1. Did the Federalists want the states or the Federal government to have more power? Why?

      translator

      speechAntifederalist Position on State/Federal Power - Melancton Smith

      Source: Speech given by Melancton Smith on June 27, 1788.

      In a country where most people live more than twelve hundred miles from the center, I don’t think one [government] body can legislate for the whole. Can such a government design a system of taxation that will be beneficial for everyone?

      Won’t such a centralized taxation system lead to swarms of officers, infesting our country and taking our money? People will be taxed beyond their means, and their complaints will never reach the government.

      It is not possible to find a set of representatives who are familiar with all parts of the continent. Can you find men in Georgia who know what’s happening in New Hampshire, who know what taxes will best suit its inhabitants, and how much they can afford? Can the best men make laws for the people they know nothing about?

      We have no reason to eliminate our state governments, or think they are incapable of acting wisely. Our state governments should be the guardians of our rights and interests.

      questions

      Questions:

      1. Did the Anti-Federalists want the states or the Federal government to have more power? Why?

      Section Question:

      1. Whose arguments do you find more convincing, the Federalists or Anti-Federalists?

      material provided from http://www.ck12.org/saythanks

      • Slavery in the Constitution

        translator

        The Declaration of Independence included a list of grievances against King George. Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration included a grievance condemning slavery and blaming the King for introducing it into the Americas. That grievance was deleted before the final version was adopted, but the Declaration did include the phrase “all men are created equal.”

        In spite of this, the Constitution allowed slavery to continue. The documents below include Jefferson’s slavery grievance and statements from several framers of the Constitution explaining their decision not to abolish slavery. As you read, think about why slavery persisted in the Constitution, despite the fact that the Declaration declared all men equal.

        oldpaperSlavery Grievance – Jefferson

        Source: Thomas Jefferson was born to a slave-owning family and he himself owned slaves. As chairman of the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote a paragraph condemning slavery in his first draft of the Declaration. He included this paragraph in his list of complaints against King George III. Before the final version of the Declaration was adopted, this paragraph was deleted.

        King George III has waged cruel war against human Nature itself. He has taken away the most sacred rights of Life and Liberty from a distant people who never offended him. He did this by captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere if they did not die a miserable death in their transportation to this new world. These disgraceful practices are the Warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain.

        He has stopped every attempt to prohibit or to restrain the disgusting business of slavery. He is determined to keep open a market where men are bought and sold.

        questions2

        Questions:

        1. Sourcing:When was this passage written? By whom?
        2. Close Reading:How does Jefferson describe slavery? Who does he blame for the continuation of the slave trade?
        3. Close Reading:Why do you think Jefferson italicizes the word ‘Christian’ at the end of the first paragraph?
        4. Contextualization: What else was going on at this time? Why do you think that Thomas Jefferson included a paragraph about slavery when he first wrote the Declaration of Independence? Why do you think it was removed?

        translator

        oldpaperConstitutional Convention – Statements on Slavery

        Source: Statements from the Constitutional Convention, which was held in Philadelphia in 1787. Representatives from the 13 colonies gathered at the Constitutional Convention to write the new constitution. These are some of their comments about the issue of slavery. The comments of Rutlidge, Elseworth, and Williamson are taken from notes made by James Madison. The comment by Franklin is taken from a published speech he delivered in Philadelphia just before the Constitutional Convention.

        Mr. RUTLIDGE: Religion and humanity have nothing to do with this question. The true question at present is whether the Southern states shall or shall not be a part of the Union. If the Northern states think about their interest, they will not oppose the increase of slaves because they will profit by selling the goods that slaves produce.

        Mr. ELSEWORTH: Let every state do what it pleases. The morality or wisdom of slavery are decisions belonging to the states themselves. What enriches a part enriches the whole.

        Mr. WILLIAMSON: Southern states could not be members of the Union if the slave trade ended. It is wrong to force any thing that is not absolutely necessary, and which any state must disagree to.

        BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: I agree to this Constitution with all its faults because I think a federal [national] government necessary for us. When you assemble a large group of men, you will inevitably find that they will disagree with each other about their local interests, and their selfish views. We have to accept some of these disagreements in order to build a national government.

        questions2

        Questions:

        1. Did each of these men consider slavery to be immoral? What other issues do they believe to be more important than slavery?

        translator

        bookA Necessary Evil? – John P. Kaminski

        Source: Excerpt from A Necessary Evil?, a book written by historian John Kaminski and published in 1995.

        The men at the Constitutional Convention never considered getting rid of slavery. The Revolutionary talk of freedom and equality had been left behind; Americans in general and the men at the Convention in particular wanted a united, well-ordered, and prosperous society in which private property—including slave property—would be secure.

        questions2

        Question:

        1. According to Kaminski, why didn’t the authors of the Constitution abolish slavery?

        translator

        bookThe Founding Fathers and Slavery – William Freehling

        Source: Excerpt from The Founding Fathers and Slavery, a book written by historian William Freehling and published in 1987.

        The Founding Fathers’ racism [was] a barrier to antislavery. Here again Jefferson typified the age. Jefferson suspected that blacks had greater sexual appetites and lower intellectual abilities than did whites. These suspicions, together with Jefferson’s fear that free blacks and free whites could not live harmoniously in America, made him and others think that the only way Africans could be free was if they were sent back to Africa.

        questions2

        Question:

        1. According to Freehling, why didn’t the authors of the Constitution abolish slavery?

        translator

        bookThe Law of American Slavery – Kermit Hall

        Source: Excerpt from The Law of American Slavery, a book written by historian Kermit Hall and published in 1987.

        Slavery hung over the Philadelphia Convention, threatening to divide northern and southern delegates. Even though slavery existed by law in some of the northern states in 1787, most people there favored its end. Southerners were more unsure about whether to end slavery, both because they had significantly greater numbers of slaves to deal with and because an end to [slavery] had important economic implications. The result was compromise. The Founding Fathers were more determined to fashion a new nation than they were to bring an end to slavery.

        questions2

        Question:

        1. According to Hall, why didn’t the authors of the Constitution abolish slavery?

        Section Question:

        1. Based on the information from the primary sources above, which of the historians’ explanations do you find most convincing? Why?

        material provided from http://www.ck12.org/saythanks

        • Hamilton versus Jefferson

          translator

          Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson were two of the most important political leaders of the young United States. Hamilton had been George Washington’s aide-de-camp during the Revolutionary War and was a leading advocate for a strong central government during the Constitutional Convention. The Federalist Papers, which he wrote along with James Madison and John Jay, are the most extended and influential defense of the U.S. Constitution. Thomas Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence and an influential leader of the other political faction, the Anti-Federalists. Hamilton was a New Yorker and an advocate for merchants and city-dwellers. Jefferson came from rural Virginia and envisioned the United States as a nation of farmers. Despite their disagreements, President Washington brought both men into his cabinet, Hamilton as Secretary of Treasury and Jefferson as Secretary of State. The letters below show one of their squabbles. As you read, note phrases that show each man’s personality.

          letterLetter to George Washington - Alexander Hamilton

          Source: This letter was written by Alexander Hamilton to President George Washington on September 9, 1792. Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury in Washington’s administration.

          Philadelphia,

          September 9, 1792

          Dear Sir,

          I have received your letter of August 26th. I sincerely regret that you have been made to feel uneasy in your administration. I will do anything to smooth the path of your administration, and heal the differences, though I consider myself the deeply injured party.

          I know that I have been an object of total opposition from Mr. Jefferson. I know from the most authentic sources, that I have been the frequent subject of most unkind whispers by him. I have watched a party form in the Legislature, with the single purpose of opposing me. I believe, from all the evidence I possess, that the National Gazette [a newspaper] was instituted by Jefferson for political purposes, with its main purpose to oppose me and my department.

          Nevertheless, I can truly say that, besides explanations to confidential friends, I never directly or indirectly responded to these attacks, until very recently.

          But when I saw that they were determined to oppose the banking system, which would ruin the credit and honor of the Nation, I considered it my duty to resist their outrageous behavior.

          Nevertheless, I pledge my honor to you Sir, that if you shall form a plan to reunite the members of your administration, I will faithfully cooperate. And I will not directly or indirectly say or do a thing to cause a fight.

          With the most affectionate and faithful attachment, etc.

          translator

          letterLetter to George Washington - Thomas Jefferson

          Source: This letter was written by Thomas Jefferson to President George Washington on September 9, 1792. Jefferson was Secretary of State in Washington’s administration.

          DEAR SIR,

          I received your letter of August 23rd. You note that there have been internal tensions in your administration. These tensions are of great concern to me. I wish that you should know the whole truth.

          I have never tried to convince members of the legislature to defeat the plans of the Secretary of Treasury. I value too highly my friendships with them to . I admit that I have, in private conversations, disapproved of the system of the Secretary of Treasury. However, this is because his system stands against liberty, and is designed to undermine and demolish the republic.

          I would like for these tensions to fade away, and my respect for you is enough motivation to wait to express my thoughts until I am again a private citizen. At that point, however, I reserve the right to write about the issues that concern the republic.

          I will not let my retirement be ruined by the lies of a man who history—if history stoops to notice him—will remember a person who worked to destroy liberty. –Still, I repeat that I hope I will not have to write such a thing.

          I trust that you know that I am not an enemy to the republic, nor a waster of the country’s money, nor a traitor, as Hamilton has written about me.

          In the meantime & ever I am with great and sincere affection & respect, dear Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant.

          questions

          Section Questions:

          Use both the Hamilton and Jefferson letters to answer the following questions.

          Using BOTH letters by Hamilton and Jefferson, answer the questions below:

          1. Sourcing:When were these letters written? What do you predict Washington will say?
          2. Context:Why are both Hamilton and Jefferson writing to George Washington? Based on both of these letters, what seems to have been happening in George Washington’s administration? How can you tell?
          3. Close reading:Which letter is angrier? What specific words and phrases support your claim?
          4. What do the letters indicate about each man’s personality? What specific quotations support your claim?
          5. Corroboration: Who do you believe “started” the fight? Based on what they wrote, whom do you trust more: Hamilton or Jefferson? Why?

          material provided from http://www.ck12.org/saythanks

          • The Louisiana Purchase

            In 1803, the United States purchased an area of land from France called Louisiana. The land stretched from the Mississippi river to present-day Montana and covered some 828,000 square miles. France had originally explored the land, but ceded it to Spain in 1763. In 1801, with Napoleon’s France conquering much of Europe, Spain returned Louisiana to France. The United States felt threatened by the possibility of a Napoleonic colony in North America. President Jefferson sent diplomats to France to attempt to buy New Orleans and West Florida. In need of money to finance its other wars, France sold the whole of Louisiana to the U.S. for $15 million dollars.

            The Louisiana Purchase doubled the land area of the United States, but not all Americans supported Jefferson’s decision. Read the following documents to learn why Jefferson’s Federalist rivals opposed the Louisiana Purchase.

            Here is a linl to America's Story Infohttp://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/nation/jb_nation_lapurchas_1.html

            newspaper“Purchase of Louisiana” – Alexander Hamilton

            Source: “Purchase of Louisiana” an editorial written by Alexander Hamilton for the New York Evening Post, July 1803.

            The purchase of New Orleans is essential to the peace and prosperity of our Western country, and opens a free and valuable market to our commercial states. This purchase will probably make it seem like Mr. Jefferson is brilliant. Any man, however, who possesses any amount of intelligence, will easily see that the purchase is the result of lucky coincidences and unexpected circumstances and not the result of any wise or thoughtful actions on the part of Jefferson’s administration. As to the vast region west of the Mississippi, it is a wilderness with numerous tribes of Indians. And when we consider the present territory of the United States, and that not one-sixteenth is yet under occupation, the possibility that this new purchase will be a place of actual settlement seems unlikely. If our own citizens do eventually settle this new land, it would weaken our country and central government. On the whole, we can honestly say that this purchase is at best extremely problematic.

            questions

            Question:

            1. Close Reading: Based on this document, why did Federalists oppose the Louisiana Purchase?

            letterLetters – Rufus King and Thomas Pickering

            Source: The following two letters are written between two Federalists. Rufus King was a Senator from New York and Thomas Pickering was a Senator from Massachusetts.

            Rufus King to Timothy Pickering, November 4, 1803

            According to the Constitution, Congress may admit new states. But can the President sign treaties forcing Congress to do so? According to the Louisiana Treaty, the territory must be formed into states and admitted into the Union. Will Congress be allowed to set any rules for their admission? Since slavery is legal and exists in Louisiana, and the treaty states that we must protect the property of the inhabitants, won’t we be forced to admit the new states as slave states? Doing so will worsen the problem of unequal representation from slave and free states.

            Timothy Pickering to Rufus King. March 4, 1804

            I am disgusted with the men who now rule us. The coward at the head [Jefferson] is like a French revolutionary. While he talks about humanity, he enjoys the utter destruction of his opponents. We have too long witnessed his general wickedness—his cruel removals of faithful officers and the substitution of corruption and immorality for honesty.

            questions

            Question:

            1. Close Reading: Based on these documents, why did Federalists oppose the Louisiana Purchase?

            Section Questions:

            1. Corroboration:Where do the documents agree? Where do they conflict?
            2. Corroboration: Based on all of the documents, what can you say about why the Federalists opposed the Louisiana Purchase?

            material provided from http://www.ck12.org/saythanks

            • Lewis and Clark

              translator

              After the purchase of the Louisiana from the French, President Thomas Jefferson dispatched a team of explorers, led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, to explore the newly acquired territory. Lewis, Clark, and the rest of their team left in 1803, returned in 1805, and kept extensive records of their journey. Read the documents below to determine how the party interacted with the Native Americans they met.

              Here is a link to America's Story Infohttp://www.americaslibrary.gov/aa/lewisandclark/aa_lewisandclark_portage_1.html

              letterLetter to Meriwether Lewis – Thomas Jefferson

              Source: The passage below is from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis on June 20, 1803. The letter gives detailed instructions on how Lewis and Clark should treat Native Americans.

              To Captain Meriwether Lewis,

              In all your interactions with the natives, treat them in the most friendly and peaceful manner. Assure them that the purpose of your journey is innocent, that the U.S. wishes to be neighborly, friendly, and useful to them. Tell them we wish to trade peacefully with them, and find out what articles would be most desirable for both of us to trade.

              If a few of their chiefs wish to visit us, arrange such a visit for them. If any of them wish to have some of their young people schooled by us and taught things that might be useful to them, we will receive, instruct and take care of them….Carry with you some smallpox medicine and explain to them how to use it and encourage them to use it, especially in the winter.

              Thomas Jefferson

              Pr. U.S. of America

              questions

              Questions:

              1. How did Jefferson want Lewis and Clark to treat the Native Americans they meet?

              translator

              diaryDiary Entries of William Clark

              Source: All the men on the journey kept diaries about their experiences. Below are two entries from William Clark’s diary. The first describes the ritual of the “Buffalo Dance” among the Mandan Indians. The second entry describes setting up camp near The Dalles Indians in present day Oregon.

              January 5, 1805

              The old men arrange themselves in a circle... the young men have their wives back of the circle... the Girl then takes the Old man (who very often can scarcely walk) and leads him to a Convenient place for the business... We sent a man to this Buffalo Dance last night, and they gave him 4 girls.

              November 21, 1805

              An old woman & wife to a Chief came and made a Camp near ours. She brought with her 6 young women I believe for the purpose of gratifying the passions of the men of our party.

              questions

              Questions:

              1. According to Clark, what happens at the Buffalo Dance?
              2. According to these diary entries, what is one way that Lewis and Clark’s men interacted with the Native American tribes they met?

              translator

              diaryDiary Entries on Sacagawea - William Clark

              Source: Many people have heard the name of Sacagawea, the Native American woman who (with her husband and newborn baby) accompanied Lewis and Clark on their journey and served as a translator. Below are Clark’s diary entries about Sacagawea.

              May 11, 1806

              The tribe surrounded us in the lodge. When the chief arrived, we gave him a small medal and spoke to the Indians through Sacagawea. We informed them who we were, where we were came from, and our friendly intentions towards them, which pleased them very much.

              August 17, 1806

              We said goodbye to our interpreters (Shabono and his wife, Sacagawea), who accompanied us on our route to the Pacific Ocean.

              I offered to take his little son, a beautiful, promising child who is 19 months old. They agreed and said that in one year the boy would be sufficiently old to leave his mother and he would then take him to me. I agreed to raise the child as my own, in such a manner as I thought proper.

              questions

              Questions:

              1. Based on these two passages, how would you describe the relationship between Sacagawea’s family and Lewis and Clark?

              material provided from http://www.ck12.org/saythanks

              • Web-quest for Creating the United States.

                Web-quest for Creating the United States.

                 

                1. What is the core document for this exploration of the Constitution?
                2. When and where was it signed?
                3. Define antecedent
                • Click on We The People.

                     4.   What does "We the people of the United States of America" mean?

                • Click where did this idea come from.

                     5. What document had very little power granted to the federal government and eventually fell apart?

                     6. What plan called for proportional representation?

                • Click executive.

                     7. How long would the president serve?

                     8. How would he be elected?

                • Click war powers.

                     9. Who can declare war?

                    10. Who raises money for wars?

                    11. What does the president have to do with war?

                • Click on representation.

                    12. What did large state want? Why?

                    13. What did small states want? Why?

                    14. What was created to solve the problem?

                • Click on taxation.

                    15. Why did the federal government need to raise taxes?

                • Go back to Creating the Constitution Interactive.
                • Click on creating the Bill of Rights HTML version.

                    16. What is the core document for this exploration of the antecedents of some of the "rights" of Americans?

                • Click freedom of religion.

                    17. Who did some states limit public office to? Why do you feel they did this?

                • Click on freedom of speech.

                    18. What was the main purpose of freedom of speech?

                    19. Define libel and sedition.

                • Click on right to bear arms.

                    20. What was An armed citizenry seen as? What does this mean?

                • Click on due process.

                    21. Define "due process".

                    22. Why has due process changed throughout the years?

                • Click on trial by jury.

                    23. Define inviolate.

                    24. Describe how "a jury of one's peers" may have changed over tim

                • U.S. Constitution

                  Use the Constitution app or visit http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html

                  1. What are the main topics of each of the seven Articles of the Constitution?
                  2. What branches of government are created by the Constitution?
                  3. Provide some examples of how each branch has power over another branch.
                  4. How can Congress remove the President from office?
                  5. List some of the powers that belong to the federal government only.
                  6. What is the longest time a President elected today can stay in office?
                  7. How long to members of the House of Representatives serve? Senators?
                  8. How old do you have to be to be a Representative? A Senator? A federal judge?
                  9. How old do you have to be to be a federal judge?
                  10. How old do you have to be to be President? Vice President?
                  11. Explain "habeas corpus."
                  12. Explain what an ex post facto law is.
                  13. Explain "bill of attainder."
                  14. How many states had to ratify the Constitution to put it into effect?
                  15. How many states have to ratify an amendment to make it part of the Constitution?
                  • Argumentative Essay

                    Argumentative Essay Topics: Constitutional Rights Issues

                    The following topics are suitable for argumentative essay assignments about constitutional rights issues. Suggested thesis statements and a list of web links to pertinent information are provided for each topic.
                    Topics on this page include: Gun Control, The Death Penalty, Electoral College System.
                    ____________________________________________________________________________________

                       Gun Control
                      Thesis   Statements:

                        
                    • Stricter handgun control laws and licensing are        necessary to save lives.
                    •   
                    • Americans have a constitutional right to own handguns and stricter laws and licensing will not effectively save lives.

                    Some  of the issues in this argument:
                      Would   stricter gun control laws infringe upon people's right to own guns?
                      Are current gun control laws enforceable?
                      Are gun manufacturers doing all they should to manufacture safe weapons?
                      Should stricter laws prohibit gun sales at gun shows without background checks?
                      Should there be an age limit for owning a gun?

                    Sources   of Information:


                         The Death Penalty

                    Thesis   Statements:

                        
                    • The death penalty should be abolished.
                    •   
                    • The death penalty should be administered for        particularly heinous crimes.       

                    Some   of the issues in this argument:  
                      Is   the death penalty an effective deterrent for heinous crimes?
                      What   are the economic ramifications of the death penalty?
                      Is   the death penalty the best protection from a murderer?
                      Are   methods of execution reliable and practical?  
                      Is   justice for the victim achieved through the death penalty?

                    Sources  of Information:

                    Against  the Death Penalty

                    In   Favor of the Death Penalty

                    Informational Websites


                    The Electoral College System
                      Thesis   Statements:

                        
                    • The United States should support and retain the        current Electoral College system of electing a President and Vice-President.
                    •   
                    • The Electoral College system of electing a President        and Vice-President needs to be replaced with a method that better  represents the will of the American people.

                    Some   of the issues in this argument:
                     
                    Is the direct election of the U.S. President a dangerous option due to the possibility of majority fraud?
                      Does direct election makes minority rule even more likely than the present process.
                      Would any other method of election be an improvement?
                      What is the likelihood that the Electoral College will frustrate the popular will in the selection of a president and a vice president?

                    Sources   of Information: