At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, delegates analyzed, argued, and debated the new Constitution. George Mason, a Virginian, pleaded with the fifty-five delegates for the inclusion of a list of guaranteed rights. Mason (sometimes referred to as the “father of the Bill of Rights”) wanted the new Constitution to guarantee freedom of speech, press, and religion, and the right to a fair jury trial. He also wanted to include the freedom to vote.
This short video examines why some Founders have been “forgotten” by subsequent generations. Some individuals, like John Dickinson, found themselves “on the wrong side of history”. Others, like Samuel Adams, played no further role on the national stage. Professor Daniel Dreisbach explains how an early death (e.g. George Mason) or a minimal written record also contributed to some Founders being “forgotten.”
This short video analyzes the final days of the Convention, when the delegates were eager to leave but also mindful of the work they had accomplished. They were “smart people who had learned from spending 88 days together” and even those opposed to the Constitution (Randolph, Mason, and Gerry) had the opportunity to dissent. Professor Gordon Lloyd agrees with Franklin that the Constitution did not achieve perfection but, rather, created a “more perfect union.”
This short video assesses sectional differences at the Convention about slavery. New England delegates saw slavery as a moral issue beyond the scope of their deliberations; representatives from the Middle States were generally opposed to slavery on moral and economic grounds; and Southerners were insistent on protection for both slavery and the slave trade. Professor John Kaminski analyzes how the conflict was resolved by denying Congress any power to regulate the trade until 1808.
Make sure you have the resources you need to explore the Constitution with your class for Constitution Day! Check out our featured Constitution Day 2015 lesson plan “The Constitutional Convention” from Documents of Freedom – or utilize many of our other Constitution related lesson plans. We have complete classroom lessons for both middle school and high school classes that are sure to engage your students!