A Lesson on Benjamin Franklin’s ‘Project for Moral Perfection’

This selection is taken from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. This excerpt focuses on self-improvement, specifically the pursuit of “moral perfection” through carefully structured and documented practice. Through textual analysis and group discussion, students will reflect on their own personal value systems and articulate principles by which they choose to live. Common Core-aligned. Includes a model discussion.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Media, Primary Sources, Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 11, 12

Famous Founders

This short video expands the definition of “famous Founder.” Men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and James Madison are readily considered to be famous. However, Professor Daniel Dreisbach suggests that individuals such as Roger Sherman, John Dickinson, John Witherspoon, and Elbridge Gerry are equally deserving of fame and honor for their contributions during our nation’s founding era.

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

Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government

Go on a learning adventure with Benjamin Franklin. Ben’s Guide is designed to inform students, parents, and educators about the workings of the Federal Government. Site content is divided into age levels. Lesson plans developed by the American Association of School Librarians are available, and games are also offered.

  • Resource Type: Descriptive Text, Games, Interactives
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Founders Online

The website brings together the papers of six of the nation’s Founders (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and Hamilton) into one searchable database. The site has taken the content produced by teams of historians and documentary editors who have worked for many years to transcribe and annotate thousands of primary source documents from hundreds of sources and publish them. The website combines all these document transcriptions and annotations into one free online resource.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades:

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

The Constitutional Convention: What the Founding Fathers Said

By examining records of the Constitutional Convention, such as James Madison’s extensive notes, students witness the unfolding drama of the Constitutional Convention and the contributions of those who have come to be known as the Founding Fathers: Madison, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and others who played major roles in founding a new nation. In this lesson, students will learn how the Founding Fathers debated, and then resolved, their differences as they drafted the U.S. Constitution.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Quizzes, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8

Slavery and the American Founding: The “Inconsistency Not to Be Excused”

John Jay wrote in 1786, “To contend for our own liberty, and to deny that blessing to others, involves an inconsistency not to be excused.” This lesson will focus on the views of the founders on slavery as expressed in primary documents from their own time and in their own words.

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