What’s in a Constitutional Preamble?

American Bar Association

Students will compare the preamble of the U.S. Constitution with the preambles from two state constitutions. They will extract common themes from the three, and note key differences. The preamble to the Constitution has not been changed since its drafting; the Constitution, however, has been amended. Students will reevaluate the ideals expressed in the Preamble and consider their relevance today. They are given the chance to rewrite the Preamble, share their rationale, and explain the values contained expressed inside.

Women Vote in New Jersey (1776-1807)

This short video focuses on late 18th century New Jersey—the only state which (temporarily) enfranchised (some) women. The 1776 New Jersey constitution granted voting rights to all property-owning inhabitants while the constitutions of 1790 and 1796 referred to voters as “he and she.” Professor Rosemarie Zagarri concludes that the political ideology of the American Revolution did have lasting implications for women, even though New Jersey rescinded their voting rights in 1807.

Grades 9-12
Voting, Elections, Politics

Antifederalist Objections to the Constitution

This short video highlights two major Antifederalist objections to the Constitution. They were concerned that the Constitution did not contain a bill of rights, something many colonial charters and state constitutions had included. Secondly, the Constitution significantly reduced state sovereignty in favor of a stronger central government. Professor John Kaminski examines the Antifederalist concerns about the ambiguous nature of the power of the central government.

Grades 11, 12
Foundations of Democracy