The Constitution in Action – State Challenges to Federal Authority: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions

Students in this simulation, as Republican members of the Kentucky and Virginia legislatures in 1798 and 1799, consider how they will oppose the Alien and Sedition Acts. Students will then act as members of other state legislatures and consider how to respond to Kentucky and Virginia. By engaging in this historical moment, students will wrestle with the ongoing tension between the Article VI, Clause 2, of the Constitution, which establishes the federal government as the “supreme Law of the Land,” and the Tenth Amendment, which reserves powers “not delegated to the United States” to the states or the people.

The United States Constitution (CKHG Unit)

The United States Constitution

This unit explores the creation and central ideas of the United States Constitution. Across 18 lessons, students learn how, after the Revolution, the Founding Fathers worked to confront the shortcomings of the Articles of Confederation. They learn why the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution, and explore reasons why the Constitution has survived as the guiding document of government in the United States.

Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Foundations of Democracy
Assessments

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

1798: Sedition Act Reins in Newly Established Freedoms

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?

How Revolutionary Was the American Revolution?

This short video asserts that although the American Revolution doesn’t fit the paradigm of other revolutions (e.g., British, French, Russian), it nevertheless resulted in a new form of republican government coupled with a new understanding of the role of citizens—both without turbulent social consequences. Professor Jack Rakove concludes that the hallmark of the American Revolution was the truly revolutionary idea that people could and should decide for themselves how to be governed.

Grades 10, 11, 12
Foundations of Democracy
Video