Celebrate Constitution Day By Exploring the 1787 Constitutional Convention Debates

Over the last several months, ConSource has detailed on our Blog the key debates that occurred during the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia from May 25, 1787 to September 17, 1787. We hope you will join us in re-exploring the Constitutional Convention debates in honor of Constitution Day on September 17!

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Teaching LGBT Rights

The history of equal rights for members of the LGBT community is something often overlooked in classroom curriculum. With the Supreme Court ruling that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, it is important to look back at the men and women who fought for equality, especially right here in Philadelphia. Events, such as Reminder Day, are examples of how we can remember the contribution of men and women in the community who fought for their rights as citizens.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Schenck v. U.S. (1919)

Did Schenck’s conviction under the Espionage Act for criticizing the draft violate his First Amendment free speech rights? Schneck was convicted for distributing anti-draft leaflets because the leaflets allegedly caused insubordination.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Economics through the Long History of America’s First Bank

Capitalism and the American nation have long been bedfellows; after all, they are both the children of eighteenth century Neo-Classical Liberalism. It is worth noting that both the “Declaration of Independence” and Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” were presented to the public in the same fateful year of 1776. However, the America of Revolutionary days certainly was neither the financial nor business force that it is today, and understanding how the nation came to be so closely linked to capital is an important understanding.

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

Civil Rights in Pennsylvania

Throughout the twentieth century, blacks in Pennsylvania employed numerous strategies to achieve the civil rights they deserved. Their efforts for to receive their rights began with a strategy of New Deal liberalism in the 1940s and 50s headed by prominent black leaders. When attempts to rewrite the laws using the established political system failed, black leaders encouraged more direct action, like boycotts and sit-ins. The movement quickly took on a black nationalist approach. Philadelphia became the perfect place for several Black Power conferences and home of the short-lived, though active, Black Panther Party.

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

Dolley Madison Before James

This short video explores the early life of Dolley Madison. Born into the Virginia gentry, Dolley spent her formative years in Philadelphia where she was married, widowed, and lost one of her children in the yellow fever epidemic of 1793. Professor Catherine Allgor describes James Madison as “smitten” with the 25 year-old widow and speculates why Dolley married James.

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

Grade 9-12 Civic Discourse at the Constitutional Convention

The purpose of this lesson is to engage students in a discussion of the Constitutional Convention. Students will explore the key disputes that arose during the convention, including most prominently how power would be divided between the federal and state governments and the various branches of government. Furthermore, students with understand the importance of compromise during the Constitutional Convention.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Grade 6-8 Give and Take to Create a Constitution

The purpose of this lesson is to engage students in a discussion of the Constitutional Convention. Students will explore the key disputes that arose during the Convention, including most prominently how power would be divided between the federal and state governments and the various branches of government. They will synthesize various sources explored debate and compromise and the Convention to understand the idea of civic discourse in the United States.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8

Grade 3-5 Passing the Constitution, A Lesson in State Ratification

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the ratification period that followed the Federal Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Through various activities to understand the what, why, who, where, and when of state ratification debates, students will see that state ratification of the Constitution was a critical element of establishing the new government’s legitimacy. Student activities throughout the day will help to build a State Ratification Bulletin Board.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 3, 4, 5

“Father” of Our Country v. “Father” of the Bill of Rights

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.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12