Constitution Hall Pass: History of Thanksgiving

Grab a seat at the table as we talk turkey! Join us as we take a look at the Thanksgiving holiday. Learn the real story of the first Thanksgiving and find out more about the Native People who lived in what is now New England. We’ll learn about the foods of our early Thanksgiving dinners and discover how the day was made a national holiday during the Civil War. Plus, we’ll check out the origins of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions – we’ll even talk a little football! So bring your appetite for knowledge and join us as we explore the history of Thanksgiving!

  • Resource Type: Media, Video
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Meaning of Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving is a venerable and much beloved American holiday. But what do we celebrate on Thanksgiving? In this ebook, we examine the meaning of Thanksgiving Day, with selections by American authors such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Jack London, Langston Hughes, Sarah Orne Jewett and O. Henry, to name just a few. Each selection includes a brief introduction by the editors with guiding questions for discussion. Also features lesson plans and a model conversation.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Primary Sources, Video
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Reading Guide for “Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen” by O. Henry

“Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen,” like so many of O. Henry’s other stories, is rife with irony, mocking humor, and his signature surprise endings. These qualities make it difficult to say with certainty what O. Henry is up to: is he satirizing the tradition of Thanksgiving, or is he showing us and celebrating its redeeming essence? This guide include background information about the author and discussion questions to enhance your understanding and stimulate conversation about the story.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Primary Sources, Video
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Reading Guide for Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Materials for this guide include background information about George Washington and discussion questions to enhance your understanding and stimulate conversation about the proclamation. In addition, the guide includes a series of short video discussions about the story, conducted by Christopher DeMuth (Hudson Institute) with the editors of the anthology. These seminars help capture the experience of high-level discourse as participants interact and elicit meaning from a classic American text.

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

Puritan Massachusetts: Theocracy or Democracy?

In the 1630s, English puritans in Massachusetts bay colony created a self-government that went far beyond what existed in England. Some historians argue that it was a religious government, or theocracy. Others claim it was a democracy. Following the reading, in small groups, students investigate, discuss, and decide the question: Was the government in Puritan Massachusetts a theocracy, a democracy, or neither?

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