Founding Documents

Discover the documents at the bedrock of our nation’s founding and understand the fundamental ideas from each of the documents, and the major principles of the U.S. Constitution. Primary sources include the Declaration of Independence, Articles of the Confederation, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, Federalist papers (#51, #70, #78), Brutus #1, and the amazing Letter from the Birmingham City Jail. Check out the National Constitution Center’s learning module for more resources!

Understanding Federalist 10: Analysis and Evaluation

Students will understand the arguments set forth by Publius in Federalist 10 by reviewing and memorizing the document’s terms. Students will also scrutinize the text by mapping the argument sequentially in a concept (tree) map. Finally, students will judge the overall message set forth in Federalist 10 by writing a letter to the editor either as a supporter or a detractor of the message. Common Core-aligned.

Exploring Federalist Paper 10 in “Translation”

In this lesson, students read a version of Madison’s famous Federalist Paper 10 that has been “translated” into more modern, comprehensive language. Through a series of scaffolded steps, students read, analyze, and draw connections to this complex yet vital text. Finally, students are asked to consider to what extent Madison’s arguments explored in Federalist Paper 10 apply to 21st century America.

Madison and Human Nature

A major obstacle teaching sophomore AP Government for semester duration is the implementation of outside reading and the comprehension of primary sources. Namely, the incorporation of the Federalist Papers, which are both relevant and necessary, pose a challenge for students not yet exposed to AP United States History or have limited reading comprehension.

American and French Revolutions and the Federalist Papers

In this lesson, students will analyze primary and secondary sources using the OPTIC strategy. Students will be able to accurately compare the United States Constitution and related documents to the French document: The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the French Revolution. Students will work in groups to analyze and discuss documents and then will write an individual short essay reflection on their conclusions.

Founding Documents: Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers Podcast

Ten days after the Constitution was signed at the Old Philadelphia State House, an anonymous op-ed appeared in the New York Journal. Signed by “”Cato,” it cautioned readers of the new Constitution to take it with a grain of salt. Even the wisest of men, it warned, can make mistakes. This launched a public debate that would last months, pitting pro-Constitution Federalists against Constitution-wary Anti-Federalists. It was a battle for ratification, and it resulted in a glimpse into the minds of our Framers – and a concession that would come to define American identity.
Our guides through the minds of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists are Claire Griffin and Cheryl Cook-Kallio.
This short episode includes a one-page Graphic Organizer for students to take notes on while listening, as well as discussion questions on the back side.

Teaching Federalist #1

This lesson provides students an opportunity to use primary source documents as they examine the philosophical origins of the natural rights philosophy of consent using Federalist # 1. It also uses John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government and the Mayflower Compact. The idea is to show how consent and choice are enlightenment ideas for government a nd could be done in America. This gave America a pragmatic view of the Enlightenment rather than an ideological view.

Grades 7-12
Foundations of Democracy
Books