Exploring the United States Constitution eBook

Each chapter connects one or more of the billions of primary source documents in the holdings of the National Archives to the principles found in the United States Constitution. These documents exemplify the workings of the three branches of the federal government as laid out in our Constitution. This eBook is available as a Multi-Touch book for iPad and Mac on iTunes, or for PC, Android devices, Mac, iPhone, iPad, or eReader with Scribd.

  • Resource Type: Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

“No Event Could Have Filled Me with Greater Anxieties”: George Washington and the First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789

Phillip Hamilton’s “‘No Event Could Have Filled Me with Greater Anxieties’: George Washington and the First Inaugural Address” reminds us how precedent setting our first president was. Anxious that his lack of administrative experience might make his task as the executive of a new nation difficult, Washington nevertheless proved he was as expert at statesmanship as he was on the battlefield. Registration at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is required to view this resource.

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

Women’s History Month

Women’s history was first celebrated in the United States in March 1981 when Congress authorized the celebration on Women’s History Week. In 1987, upon the request of the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed a resolution to declare March Women’s History Month. Since that time, each president has continued to sign the resolution on an annual basis to continue the tradition of Women’s History Month celebrations.

  • Resource Type: Interactives, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Photography, Research (Digests of Primary Sources), Timelines
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Constitution Day Across the Country

Various free, downloadable lessons across grades K through 12 to facilitate providing educational programs on Constitution Day. These interactive lessons teach about the development and evolution of the U.S. Constitution. Students are able to express themselves through discussion and debates while engaging in various activities.

  • Resource Type: Audio, Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Acts of Congress

George Washington’s copy of the Acts passed at a Congress of the United States of America (New-York, 1789) contains key founding documents establishing the Union: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and a record of acts passed by the first Congress. In the margins, Washington wrote “President,” “Powers,” and “Required,” underscoring the responsibilities of the first Chief Executive. Learn more about this rare volume in the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.

  • Resource Type: Books
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 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

Inaugurations: Stepping into History

Discover what inauguration ceremonies over the centuries can teach us about our changing nation and the leaders who have shaped it.

Taking a close look at the moments in which these leaders first took office can provide rich opportunities to investigate the history of the United States as it has changed over the centuries. It can also provide unique insights into these remarkable individuals as they first stepped into history.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Congress, the President, and the War Powers (Fundamental Principles of Government)

This lesson will explore the implementation of the war-making power from the first declared war under the Constitution—the War of 1812—to the Iraq War. Using primary sources, students will investigate how the constitutional powers to initiate war have been exercised by the legislative and executive branches at several key moments in American history. They will also evaluate why and how the balance of authority in initiating war has changed over time, and the current balance of power.

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

Early Presidents (CKHG Unit)

This unit (first half of Early Presidents and Social Reformers) focuses on the first seven presidents of the United States. Across 9 lessons, students learn about how the early presidents organized the federal government, built a national capital, directed a second war with Great Britain, more than doubled the size of the country, and formulated a “hands-off” foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere.

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