Natural Rights, Citizenship Rights, State Rights, and Black Rights: Another Look at Lincoln and Race

In the real world, the ability of free blacks to enjoy their natural rights and exercise the privileges and immunities of citizenship depended on the states where they actually lived. When those states imposed a raft of legal discriminations on free blacks they cheapened the meaning of freedom and discounted the value of citizenship. I suspect this bothered Lincoln, but it wasn’t his issue. It would take other men and women, and another century of struggle, before “states rights” was abolished.

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
Video

The Reconstruction Amendments: Official Documents as Social History

The Fourteenth Amendment was the most important constitutional change in the nation’s history since the Bill of Rights. Its heart was the first section, which declared all persons born or naturalized in the United States (except Indians) to be both national and state citizens, and which prohibited the states from abridging their “privileges and immunities,” depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or denying them “equal protection of the laws.”

Case of Gerry Gault

In this lesson, students will learn about the events that led to the case In re Gault, and will recognize this case’s importance to juvenile rights and juvenile court proceedings. Students will list those parts of the case that they believe were carried out fairly, and those that they believe were unfair to Gault. Students’ concerns about the case are compared to the actual reasons given by the Supreme Court. The lesson leads naturally into a discussion of due process.

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.”

Grades 6, 7, 8
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

“An Expression of the American Mind”: Understanding the Declaration of Independence

The major ideas in the Declaration of Independence, their origins, the Americans’ key grievances against the King and Parliament, their assertion of sovereignty, and the Declaration’s process of revision. This lesson will focus on the views of Americans as expressed in primary documents from their own time and in their own words.

Slavery and the American Founding: The “Inconsistency Not to Be Excused”

John Jay wrote in 1786, “To contend for our own liberty, and to deny that blessing to others, involves an inconsistency not to be excused.” This lesson will focus on the views of the founders on slavery as expressed in primary documents from their own time and in their own words.

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

The History of Immigration Law in the United States

This lesson provides a background on the history of immigration policy in the United States, that is the philosophical origins, legal debates, and legal history from the Founding of the nation to the late 1900s. Students will come to understand how American lawmakers viewed immigrants and the reasoning behind the evolving nature of immigration policy.