Core Documents Collection: Documents and Debates 1493-1865

The Core Documents Collection – Documents and Debates is structured around a series of topics, each based on a question for debate. For each topic, there is a collection of documents that, together, form the basis of argument over that topic – from those who debated it at a given point in American history. Volume One covers 1493-1865, and Volume Two covers 1865-2009.
The goal is to explore a series of critical moments in American history by asking questions for which there are not simple yes/no answers, but instead call for informed discussion and rational debate. The Documents and Debates readers also include appendices of additional documents, and together are a perfect fit for any American History survey course, including AP U.S. History.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: History
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

How Revolutionary Was the American Revolution?

This short video asserts that although the American Revolution doesn’t fit the paradigm of other revolutions (e.g., British, French, Russian), it nevertheless resulted in a new form of republican government coupled with a new understanding of the role of citizens—both without turbulent social consequences. Professor Jack Rakove concludes that the hallmark of the American Revolution was the truly revolutionary idea that people could and should decide for themselves how to be governed.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

The Constitution as a Fulfillment of the American Revolution

This short video challenges the notion that the Constitution was a conservative reaction to the democratic ideals of the American Revolution. The Revolution generated constitutional discussion in the states, where legislators explored the nature of executive power, and other constitutional questions. In light of this constitutional innovation, Professor Jack Rakove maintains that the Constitution of 1787 was the culmination of—not a reaction to–the Revolution of the late 1770’s.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

Women During the American Revolution

This short video illustrates the degree to which women actively participated in the American Revolution. In response to the Stamp Act, American colonists agreed to stop importing British goods and the colonial women led the boycotts of tea, fine cloth, and other consumer goods. Women began to think of themselves as “Daughters of Liberty.” Professor Rosemarie Zagarri explains how male political leaders came to acknowledge the political capacity and potential of women during this era.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 11, 12

Loyalists in the American Revolution

This short video clarifies the role played by Loyalists throughout the American Revolution. Never more than 1/5 of the population, Loyalists’ political and military significance varied both chronologically and geographically. Professor Jack Rakove highlights the efforts of British forces in the Southern colonies to enlist Loyalists in hopes of “pacifying” the countryside, but concludes that there were too few Loyalists for this strategy to succeed.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

Women Before the American Revolution

This short video explores the limited rights of women prior to the American Revolution. According to the idea of femme covert, women were legally and politically subservient to their husbands. Married women could not own property and all women were considered irrelevant to the political sphere. Professor Rosemarie Zagarri notes that 80% of the freemen in the colonies could vote (as compared to 20% in Great Britain), but suffrage was still limited to men.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

The American Revolution (CKHG Unit)

This unit begins by providing background information on the establishment of the thirteen colonies. Across 25 lessons, students learn about early alliances, the French and Indian War, and causes and provocations of the American Revolution. Students are introduced to major ideas in the Declaration of Independence and to key figures in the Revolution, as well as art and literature representative of the period.

Includes 25 lessons of roughly 45 minutes each.

  • Resource Type: Assessments, Books, Descriptive Text, Lesson Plans, Media, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Timelines
  • Subject: History
  • Grades: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Causes of the American Revolution

This short video examines the Boston Tea Party of 1773 as the critical event which transformed political discussion about British imperial authority into an active source of controversy. By the early 1770’s, British and Americans thought differently about the extent of Parliament’s power to legislate for the American colonies. Professor Jack Rakove notes that British punishment of Massachusetts for its defiance of the Tea Act precluded a peaceful resolution of the political controversy.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

Constitutional Conversations

Constitutional Conversations is a series of discussions by America’s leading scholars. Topics include: James Madison and American Constitutionalism; Women and Early American Constitutionalism; Religion and American Constitutionalism. Another video series, called Presidents and the Constitution, features journalist Hugh Sidey interviewing Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

  • Resource Type: Oral Histories, Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

George Washington and the Revolution

This short video examines the role played by George Washington in the defeat of the British during the American Revolution. From the moment he assumed command, Washington emphasized the importance of union to the war effort, in spite of challenges faced while commanding forces that were ill-fed, ill-supplied, and ill-served by the Confederation Congress. Professor W. B. Allen concludes that Washington’s leadership held both the military and the nation together during this tumultuous period.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 11, 12