James Madison Lesson 2: The Second National Bank—Powers Not Specified in the Constitution

In this lesson, students examine the First and Second National Banks and whether or not such a bank’s powers are constitutional or unconstitutional.

How should the Constitution be applied to situations not specified in the text? How can balance be achieved between the power of the states and that of the federal government? How can a balance of power be achieved among the three branches of the federal government? In this lesson, Madison’s words will help students understand the constitutional issues involved in some controversies that arose during Madison’s presidency.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)

Did Congress have the authority under the Constitution to commission a national bank? If so, did the state of Maryland have the authority to tax a branch of the national bank operating within its borders?

This case summary provides teachers with everything they need to teach about McCulloch v. Maryland (1819). It contains background information in the form of summaries and important vocabulary at three different reading levels, as well a review of relevant legal concepts, diagram of how the case moved through the court system, and summary of the decision. This resource also includes seven classroom-ready activities that teach about the case using interactive methods.

  • Resource Type: ESL Appropriate, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Constitution Hall Pass: The Story of Tax Day

In our “Story of Tax Day” episode of Constitution Hall Pass, we explore how Alexander Hamilton came up with a plan to create a national bank. We’ll also find out when, how, and why the Constitution was amended to allow the federal government to impose an income tax, as well as where those tax dollars go today.

  • Resource Type: Media, Video
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Engaging Congress Game

Engaging Congress is a fun, interactive game that uses primary source documents to explore the basic principles of representative government and the challenges they face in contemporary society.

  • Resource Type: Games
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Economics through the Long History of America’s First Bank

Capitalism and the American nation have long been bedfellows; after all, they are both the children of eighteenth century Neo-Classical Liberalism. It is worth noting that both the “Declaration of Independence” and Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” were presented to the public in the same fateful year of 1776. However, the America of Revolutionary days certainly was neither the financial nor business force that it is today, and understanding how the nation came to be so closely linked to capital is an important understanding.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

The Supremacy Clause

Tension between the states and the federal government has been a constant throughout U.S. history. This video explores the supremacy clause in Article VI of the Constitution and key moments in the power struggle, including the landmark case McCulloch v. Maryland. In McCulloch, Chief Justice John Marshall wrote that the supremacy clause unequivocally states that the “Constitution, and the Laws of the United States … shall be the supreme Law of the Land.”

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

The Constitution in Action: Strict vs. Loose Construction

History is the chronicle of choices made by actors/agents/protagonists in specific contexts. This simulation places students in the Early Republic and asks them to engage with questions of Constitutional interpretation faced by President Washington and the First Federal Congress. Did the Constitution empower Congress to charter a national bank? Finance and maintain lighthouses? Regulate working conditions of merchant seamen? Support higher education?

  • Resource Type: Interactives, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

James Madison Lesson 3: Raising an Army: Balancing the Power of the States and the Federal Government

Not everyone in the U.S. supported the War of 1812. What events during Madison’s presidency raised constitutional questions? What were the constitutional issues? Where did Madison stand?

  • Resource Type: Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Quizzes, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: State/Local Government
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

McCulloch v. Maryland

Students read about and discuss the landmark Supreme Court case of McCulloch v. Maryland. In a group activity, students study Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution and the 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights. The groups decide which of several proposals Congress has the authority under Article I, Section 8, to establish or regulate and give their reasons.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

The Impact of Congress

The Impact of Congress looks at the work of the First Congress, 1789-91, and its impact on the country over the years. In this module you will learn about eleven of the First Congress’s most important accomplishments through primary source images and documents – accomplishments that still have a major impact on our country today. Then you will pick a later session of Congress and explore and analyze its accomplishments.

  • Resource Type: Editorial Cartoons, Interactives, Media, Photography, Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources), Timelines, Video
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12