Religion in Colonial America

This short video examines impact of Reformed Christianity on the minds and hearts of the Framers of the Constitution. Influenced by the writings of John Locke, Algernon Sydney, and John Calvin, Founders such as George Washington and John Adams believed that religion should play an informal, though important, role in American Society. Professor Jeffry Morrison examines Adams’ contention that colonial fears of British bishops helped to inflame revolutionary sentiments.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 11, 12

Slavery a Positive Good, John C. Calhoun

John C. Calhoun was a U.S. statesman and spokesman for the slave-plantation system of the South. He explains in this article that slavery gives people more serious opportunities to better themselves because of slaves. This source allows students to examine the supposed justifications for slavery and challenge the assumptions made by slaveowners.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison and Judicial Review—How the Court Became Supreme

If James Madison was the “father” of the Constitution” John Marshall was the “father of the Supreme Court”—almost single-handedly clarifying its powers. This new lesson is designed to help students understand Marshall’s brilliant strategy in issuing his decision on Marbury v. Madison, the significance of the concept of judicial review, and the language of this watershed case.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

The Supremacy Clause

Tension between the states and the federal government has been a constant throughout U.S. history. This video explores the supremacy clause in Article VI of the Constitution and key moments in the power struggle, including the landmark case McCulloch v. Maryland. In McCulloch, Chief Justice John Marshall wrote that the supremacy clause unequivocally states that the “Constitution, and the Laws of the United States … shall be the supreme Law of the Land.”

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Meeting at Runnymede: The Story of King John and Magna Carta

Chafing under the despotic rule of King John, rebellious British noblemen forced their ruler to sign the Magna Carta. The 63 clauses of this document defined and limited the feudal rights of the monarch. This lesson includes a background reading, full text of the Magna Carta, and a small-group activity for students.

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

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

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

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

Why Government? (Lesson Plan)

Students take a look at two political thinkers that spent a lot of time trying to answer the question, “Why Government?” – Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. This lesson combines our Influence Library entries on these men and adds activities that ask students to compare and contrast Hobbes and Locke and to think about how these philosophers influenced those that followed in their footsteps. This lesson is one in a series entitled “Foundations of Government.”

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8