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The Constitution and Foundation of the American Political System (1777-1789)


Students analyze the political principles underlying the Constitution, compare the enumerated and implied powers of the federal government, and understand the foundation of the American political system and the ways in which citizens participate.




An old map of the city of Philadelphia and its environs shewing the several works constructed by His Majesty's troops, under the command of Sir William Howe, since their possession of that city 26th. September 1777, comprehending likewise the attacks against Fort Mifflin on Mud Island, and until it's reduction, 16th November 1777. Surveyed & drawn by P. Nicole.

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Western Hemisphere 1700s
Western Hemisphere 1700s

A majestic1700's Map of Western Hemisphere. It was created Amstelodami : G. van Keulen, 1700's. Relief shown pictorially. Prime meridian: Ferro. Dedicated to "Iacobo Boreel" by G. van Keulen. Scale [ca. 1:4,250,000] at equator.

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United States of America
United States of America

An impressive image of The United States of America with the British possessions of Canada, Nova Scotia, & of Newfoundland, divided with the French; and the Spanish territories of Louisiana and Florida according to the preliminary articles of peace signed at Versailles the 20th of January. 1783. It was made in 1783.

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An old map of the city of Philadelphia and its environs shewing the several works constructed by His Majesty's troops, under the command of Sir William Howe, since their possession of that city 26th. September 1777, comprehending likewise the attacks against Fort Mifflin on Mud Island, and until it's reduction, 16th November 1777. Surveyed & drawn by P. Nicole.

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  • Did the Articles of Confederation provide the United States with an effective government?
  • Could the Constitution be written without compromise?
  • Does state or federal government have a greater impact on our lives? (federalism)
  • Does the system of checks and balances provide us with an effective and efficient government? Do separation of powers and checks and balances make our government work too slowly?
  • Is a strong federal system the most effective government for the United States? Which level of government, federal or state, can best solve our nation’s problems?
  • Is the Constitution a living document? (amendment process, elastic clause, judicial interpretation, legislative modifications, etc.)
  • Was George Washington’s leadership indispensable in successfully launching the new federal government?
  • Should the United States fear a national debt? (financial problems of the new nation and Hamilton’s financial plan)
  • Whose ideas were best for the new nation, Hamilton’s or Jefferson’s?
  • Are political parties good for our nation? (Federalists v. Democratic-Republicans)



"An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."

~ Benjamin Franklin


"To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting."

~ Edmund Burke




  • Students will understand the rights and responsibilities guaranteed in the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.

  • Students will understand the principles and ideals that shaped the development of the United States’ democratic institutions. 




Weaknesses in the Articles of Confederation convinced leaders of the United States that the country needed a strong central government. After months of intense debate, delegates to the Constitutional Convention agreed on a new plan of government. The states approved the Constitution, but many of the states insisted that it also include a bill of rights.


The goal of the Constitution is to create a single, united nation with a fair government and system of laws. It ensures peace within the nation, provides for the defense of the country, and guarantees people's rights and liberties. The principles behind the Constitution include the people's right to rule themselves and the careful division of power among three separate branches of the government.  Read more...

Crash Course:  The constitution, the Articles, and Federalism...

In which John Green teaches you about the United States Constitution. During and after the American Revolutionary War, the government of the new country operated under the Articles of Confederation. While these Articles got the young nation through its war with England, they weren't of much use when it came to running a country. So, the founding fathers decided try their hand at nation-building, and they created the Constitution of the United States, which you may remember as the one that says We The People at the top.


John will tell you how the convention came together, some of the compromises that had to be made to pass this thing, and why it's very lucky that the framers installed a somewhat reasonable process for making changes to the thing. You'll learn about Shays' Rebellion, the Federalist Papers, the elite vs rabble dynamic of the houses of congress, and start to find out just what an anti-federalist is.

8.28 Describe the significance of the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, and the Mayflower Compact in relation to the development of government in America.


8.29 Analyze the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and their impact on the future development of western settlement and the spread of public education and slavery.


The Articles of Confederation and the Northwest Ordinance...

8.30 Analyze the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, including no power to tax, no common currency, no control of interstate commerce, and no executive branch, failure of the Lost State of Franklin and the impact of Shays’ Rebellion.



Shay's Rebellion...1786

Federalists vs. Anti-Federalists...

The Federalist vs Antifederalist debate.

8.32 Explain the ratification process and describe the conflict between Federalists and Anti- Federalists over ratification, including the need for a Bill of Rights and concern for state’s rights, citing evidence from the Federalist Papers No. 10 and 51 and other primary source texts.




A 3-minute Guide to the Bill of Rights

The Articles of Confederation Explained:  U.S. History Review...

Mr. Hughes explains the basics of the Articles of Confederation including the reasons for its eventual demise. Topics include the NW Ordinance of 1787, Shay's Rebellion and the Annapolis Convention.

The 3/5th Compromise Explained:  U.S. History Review...

Ready to get nauseous over some ugly US History? The Constitutional Convention's 3/5ths Compromise broken down so you can understand it for school, for a test or for life.

The Great Compromise Explained:  U.S. History Review...

The Connecticut Compromise was one of the most important deals made at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, understanding it is an essential part of any US History and Government course. Plus I do it all swanky and such.

The Constitutional Convention Explained:  U.S. History Review...

A heaping helpful of Constitutional history as HipHughes dips and dives through the Constitutional Convention. A seasoned high school teacher of 15 years, this lesson is practical for any aged learner and entertaining for ages 1-99. (although your going to have translate for the babies)

The Making of the American Constitution...

How did a meeting intended to revise the Articles of Confederation lead to the new Constitution for the United States? Discover how a handful of men--sitting in sweltering heat and shrouded by secrecy--changed the course of history for America in 1787. 

Lesson by Judy Walton, animation by Ace & Son Moving Picture Co., LLC.



Daily, Americans exercise their rights secured by the Constitution. The most widely discussed and debated part of the Constitution is known as the Bill of Rights. Belinda Stutzman provides a refresher course on exactly what the first ten amendments grant each and every American citizen.

8.33 Describe the principles embedded in the Constitution, including the purposes of government listed in the Preamble, separation of powers, check and balances, the amendment process, federalism, and recognition of and protections of individual rights in the Bill of Rights.


"Captain Kirk Preamble"

Captain Kirk, reads the preamble from the US constitution. Star Trek can be very absurd at times. Episode 52, 'Omega Glory'.

Bill of Rights [Disney Version]

8.34 Write an opinion piece arguing for the importance of a particular right as it impacts individuals and/or groups, using evidence from the Bill of Rights and contemporary informational text.







Learn more about the first President of the United States. George Washington established many important precedents and confronted many domestic and foreign policy challenges.




The National computer has crashed and they need your help.





Test your knowledge of the Constitution.



Match wits with Constitutional lawyers to determine if you "have a right" ...



Become a Historical Scene Investigator on this case...



This activity gives you a chance to become a reporter and travel back in time to the Constitutional Convention. You will ask questions of the Founders and report your findings in a news story.



Hamilton and Burr dueled over honor, but yours will be about American history.  Test your knowledge and have fun!




The first and only institution in America established by Congress to "disseminate information about the United States Constitution on a non-partisan basis in order to increase the awareness and understanding of the Constitution among the American people."

Reading of the Declaration of Independence...

A host of celebrities including Mel Gibson, Whoopie Goldberg, and Michael Douglas perform a live reading of the Declaration of Independence in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA.


The Whiskey Rebellion...

Historical Spotlight takes a look at a time in history, shortly following the creation of America's Constitutional Republic, when Americans became really angry at being taxed. Watch our video to learn more about the 1791 Whiskey Rebellion.


Historical Topics Covered:

  • National War Debt after Revolutionary War

  • Alexander Hamilton's Economic Plan: (Consolidation of Federal & State Debt, Tariffs, Excise Tax)

  • War Bonds Speculation

  • Whiskey Act of 1791

  • Whiskey Rebellion 1791

8.35 Analyze the major events of George Washington’s presidency, including Pinckney’s Treaty, Jay’s Treaty, Whiskey Rebellion, and precedents set in the Farewell Address.



Alien and Sedition Acts...

8.37 Explain the controversies that plagued the administration of John Adams, including the conflicts with England and France and the Alien and Sedition Acts.



Primary Documents and Supporting Texts to Read: excerpts from The Articles of Confederation; the U.S. Constitution; The Federalist Paper # 10 and #51; The Bill of Rights; Washington’s Farewell Address
Primary Documents and Supporting Texts to Consider: excerpts from The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison; Patrick Henry’s arguments against ratification



This a click-and-explore activity that puts you in control and ask you to consider how life would change without some of our most cherished freedoms.

Jefferson vs. Hamilton...

This is a clip from the HBO series "John Adams" It depicts a conversation between President Washington's cabinet members Alexander Hamilton (Treasury Sec.) and recently returned from France and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, regarding Hamilton's proposed assumption of the revolutionary war debts of the individual States under the authority of the Federal government and the formation of a National bank. Effectively these are some of the fundamental and foundational ideological differences between the origins of the Democrat (known at the time as "Federalist") and Republican ("Democratic-Republican") parties.

8.36 Explain the strict versus loose interpretation of the Constitution and how the conflicts between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton resulted in the emergence of two political parties by analyzing their views of foreign policy, economic policy (including the National Bank), funding, and assumption of the revolutionary debt.

We believe that everyone should be familiar with the Bill of Rights. So, here is some background information on the creation and ratification of the Bill of Rights, along with information on the amendments.





"Too Late To Apologize: a Declaration" is Soomo's first satirical video project and is part of our ongoing effort to facilitate learning in creative, innovative ways.  To get the lyrics or download the mp3, visit:

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