Causes of the American Revolution

This short video examines the Boston Tea Party of 1773 as the critical event which transformed political discussion about British imperial authority into an active source of controversy. By the early 1770’s, British and Americans thought differently about the extent of Parliament’s power to legislate for the American colonies. Professor Jack Rakove notes that British punishment of Massachusetts for its defiance of the Tea Act precluded a peaceful resolution of the political controversy.

Grades 10, 11, 12
Foundations of Democracy
Video

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

In the years leading up to the Civil War, the issue of slavery divided the Democratic Party and newly formed Republican Party. One of the most prominent Democrats was the U.S. Senator from Illinois Stephen Douglas. When he ran for re-election in 1858 against Republican Abraham Lincoln, the two men held a series of debates. In the activity, students read statements made by Douglas in the debates, discuss how Lincoln would respond, and create responses to each statement.

Grades 9-12
Rights and Responsibilities
Lesson Plans

Presenting Political Parties

Using the political cartoons of Clifford Berryman, this lesson, developed in collaboration with the National Archives, has students consider the impact of political parties on politics, government, lawmaking, and voters. The heavy focus here is on breaking down and interpreting some powerful primary sources to learn more about the role of political parties.

Grades 6-12
Voting, Elections, Politics
Editorial Cartoons

The Sedition Act: Certain Crimes Against the United States

The Sedition Act of 1798 passed during John Adam’s administration by the Federalist Party touched off a lively debate about the right of free speech. It also presented an early test case to the citizens and government of the United States. In times of war or imminent danger, how do you balance the need for security with the rights of individuals? How can partisan politics affect the process of shaping security policies?

Immigration Reform (SIM Lesson Plans)

The purpose of this learning module is to help students learn how a U.S. Senator might address an issue of public significance under consideration in the United States Congress. Learning about personal, state, party, and national interests will help students understand representation more fully. The pre-visit examines how elected representation works. The post-visit lesson supports critical analysis of each student’s strategic choices and votes, preparing them to defend their efforts.

Grades 8, 9-12
Legislative Branch/Congress
Lesson Plans

Early Presidents (CKHG Unit)

Early Presidents and Social Reformers

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.

Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Executive Branch/Presidency
Assessments

Debate Watching Guide

This lesson is designed to help students view political debates. The resources provided support the critical evaluation of the candidate’s performances. Body language, demeanor, appearance and positions on key issues are analyzed in an attempt to help students determine the importance of debates to the election cycle. This lesson could be used in class or as a homework assignment.

Grades 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12
Voting, Elections, Politics
Audio

Dangerous Freedoms: Debating the Sedition Act

Prominent Republican Party members immediately denounce the Act as a violation of First Amendment freedom of speech and of the press, but the Federal courts move forward with cases brought under the law. The still-new nation is drawn into a tense debate: To what extent should the government of a young nation limit criticism of its leaders and policies to protect its stability in the face of foreign threats?